Skift Take

Marriott Rewards' PlusPoints program will muddy the social media waters even more than they already are today. Ah, we're getting nostalgic for the bad old days when a "like" was a heartfelt "like."

Some Facebook “likes,” Twitter retweets, Instagram posts and Foursquare check-ins may be sponsored by Marriott, after a fashion — but it won’t be transparent.

Seeking to enhance its social media stature, Marriott Rewards launched a PlusPoints program that rewards loyalty program members 250 points for each Facebook “like” or Twitter “follow,” as well as 25 points for each Facebook share or retweet about Marriott — up to a maximum of 2,000 points every 30 days.

Geotagged Instagram photos about Marriott properties and foursquare check-ins (while they last) are also worth 25 points each.

Rewards members can then redeem their points for things such as $10 Best Buy Gift gift cards (5,000 points), and $15 iTunes gift cards (7,500 points). It would take a ton of points to redeem a hotel stay; members can also redeem points for cruises, car rental and frequent flyer miles, Marriott says.

Critics may view the program as taking the authenticity out of social media: How legitimate is a “like” if the user is getting compensated for it?

Does Facebook permit compensating consumers for “likes?” Apparently so.

A portion of Facebook’s platform policy for developers describes the parameters of proper use: “Only incentivize a person to log into your app, like your app’s Page, enter a promotion on your app’s Page, or check-in at a place. Don’t incentivize other actions.”

Another thing to keep in mind is that Facebook requires PlusPoints members to provide access to their Friends/Followers’ list in order for Marriott to give out points “for following participating brands and properties,” Marriott states. “Marriott will never share or use this information.”

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Tags: facebook, instagram, loyalty, marriott, social media, twitter

Photo credit: The Marriott Marquis Times Square Facebook page has more than 18,000 "likes," but now Marriott Rewards is handing out points to people who like the page and other Marriott properties. Marriott Marquis Times Square

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