Most people won't pay for a promoted post, but they would shell out the cash to buy their friends a gift through Facebook, according to a report from brokerage firm Sterne Agee.
The report (posted below) was based on a survey that asked more than 750 Facebook users to weigh in on the social network's latest ideas for making money -- increased advertising in the form of sponsored stories, Facebook gifts, promoted posts, and a possible search engine.
Of the four potential moneymakers, promoted posts is the least likely to succeed, according to the survey. When this feature went live earlier this month, Facebook users were able to pay $7 a pop to promote posts.
Sterne Agee found only 16 percent of users surveyed would actually pay to promote their posts, and only 1.2 percent would actually pay more than $5 to do it.
On the flip side, Sterne Agee thinks Facebook's mobile advertising tactics are actually effective. Although Facebook has been increasing these ads -- the sponsored stories placed into news feeds -- 77 percent of mobile users said they don't notice them (these would be the same sponsored stories that are the subject of a privacy lawsuit against Facebook).
Sterne Agee said this "indicates the subtle and effective nature of sponsored stories and should provide Facebook with significant opportunity to advertise." But, the report also notes, Facebook needs to work on making these ads more relevant to users.
A Facebook search engine, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said the company is interested in developing, also has potential. Nearly half of those surveyed said they would use such a product, and surprisingly, older adults are more likely to use it their younger counterparts, according to Sterne Agee.But, Facebook's most promising moneymaker presently is its gifting service, Sterne Agee said. Forty-five percent of users, manly those between the age of 30 to 44, said they were willing to use the product, which lets users send friends physical gifts through the social network.
"We believe this is an area of tremendous opportunity for Facebook," the report said.
Sterne Agee says this product's success would let Facebook rely less on advertising, which means less pressure to make money off mobile ads.
Check the survey results out below.