Groups are private enclaves for people related by a particular title or interest: James Buchanan High Class of 78, Springfield Isotots Little League team, Dunder Mifflin Summer Picnic Committee . . . etc. Unlike fans of a Page, Group members have to be approved before they can join and Facebook caps the numbers and features to encourage you to keep it small.
This week, Facebook added a new feature to Groups which is good for them but bad if it catches on. It’s a kind of read receipt that appears at the bottom of a post. It shows who in the group has “seen” the post and at what time.
For Groups that deal with timely and important information, this notation is a very helpful tool. Say you’ve changed the Picnic Committee meeting time from five to noon. You post this to the Group and you can easily see if everyone got the message in time to make the meeting. You can also see who lied about getting the message and used that as an excuse to miss the meeting.
I don’t know how Facebook decides who has “seen” it and who hasn’t. I assume if it shows up in your feed and you log in, then it’s counted as a “seen.” Doesn’t mean you saw it or read it, so there is still an out for anyone who wants to ignore the message.
The worry here is that Facebook will decide to put this notation on all Facebook updates. As a marketer, I’d been happy to note how many people “seen” my Page post but as a reader, I don’t want my business broadcasted all over the network. What I read is my business. If I like it enough to share it then I’ll share it or leave a comment but otherwise, leave my name out of it.
Do I think it’s likely the “seen it” notation will spread? No. Too many privacy problems. It’s like those ads that show which of your friends liked it. Adding a persons name to the list implies they approve of the post and that’s not going to sit well with the masses.
As for Groups, the “seen it” box is a nice tool that will let you know if your message is being heard, even if your Group members aren’t listening.