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.”

— Dennis Schaal

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.”