Facebook is testing two siblings for the Like button, marked Want and Collect. They are both for the benefit of online retailers, though chances are Facebook will wind up making some cash out of them.
The two new buttons are part of a feature in development called Collections. It appears a collection will simply be a range of products available from a particular online retailer. The initial testing has seven retailers, most notably Pottery Barn and Victoria’s Secret.
When a Facebook user looks at one of these products, they’ll be able to buy it or click Want. This not only posts a message on their friends’ timelines (as with the Like button), but will also include a link to buy the product and an optional message from the user. Though not confirmed, it appears the idea is that the friend who sees it will then be able to buy it for the user, Amazon wishlist style.
Meanwhile the Collect button lets users add the product to a special album that is only viewable to their friends and family. From the way it’s described, reaction to this feature will be split between people who simply cannot see the point of it and people who love Pinterest.
To start off with at least, the buy links will simply take people to the relevant page on the retailer’s website. They won’t run through Facebook’s own payment system and Facebook won’t take a cut. Though it’s possible Facebook may not be ready to deal with more expensive purchases on its credit system (compared with, say, virtual in-game purchases), I wouldn’t be surprised if later the online giant starts charging an access fee for companies that want to use the Collections feature.
Forbes makes the point that while Facebook is always on the lookout for new sources of income, “the company is now urging us to directly spend money while on the site. This is something that Facebook has never asked of its users before, and itís a pretty jarring shift in the siteís tone…. A more assertive business model could have the potential to change how users feel on Facebook and interact with the site. And thatís something that could frighten them away.”