What Do Facebook Read Receipts Mean for Marketing?

We wrote recently about how the Facebook Edgerank Algorithm calculates what to show in each user’s news feed – as well as the implications of this for social media marketing.

Another recent Facebook update that will prove important for SEO and marketing is the addition of read receipts to messages and group posts. Facebook announced this back on July 11th and it looks like it’s been rolled out across a large proportion of Groups.

Facebook-read-receipts

Facebook groups are a feature that, when most business groups were turned to pages, didn’t get used very much if at all. Recently, groups have started to make a comeback as a place where like-minded people could come together as a community to discuss (and, yes, promote) ideas.

The idea behind adding read receipts to Facebook groups is, presumably, so those running the groups can pass on messages and updates to people to whom these will be relevant. By knowing who has seen an update, e.g. the rescheduling of a meet-up, the group moderator can know who they need to follow-up with.

Of course, we must raise the question of whether marketers should be using Facebook groups for promotion at all! Our Social Media marketing course will teach you the advantages and disadvantages of different platforms for marketing – and that the number one aim should be to add value and engage. You’ll need to ask yourself whether you genuinely believe the content you are promoting is good enough to be of use to the members of the group – and the new read receipts may well test that theory!

There are, as yet, some unanswered questions to do with Facebook read receipts:

1. Why aren’t they showing across all groups?

2. Will users be able to choose not to send a read receipt? Is there a privacy issue here?

3. Will the read receipts/impressions start being applied to all updates, e.g. personal status updates in news feeds? If so, what will this mean for user behaviour on Facebook?

4. What constitutes a ‘read’? Does it mean hovering or pausing? How does Facebook know you are reading that post rather than the one above it? And how does it know you haven’t got the Group wall open in a new browser tab that you never look at before closing it down? The concept of ‘impressions’ as potential reads is easier to understand.

Facebook Groups, Read Receipts and Marketing

Groups are moderated by individuals and there is no way to add branding – the image that appears at the top of the group is a composite of members’ profile pictures.

Many companies post links to their content and products via Groups – but, until now, there was very little way of knowing how active these groups actually were. Many groups have thousands of members but little engagement – engagement being evidenced by comments and discussions on the group wall.

Now, with read receipts, marketers can effectively see who has ignored their post, whereas before there was no way of knowing whether posts had been seen at all!

Facebook Read Receipts engagement

If your message goes out in a group with lots of activity (posts) but little engagement (comments, likes, discussion on posts); you could be forgiven for thinking that the group had very few people using it for genuine community purposes. Now, you’ll be able to identify where there are indeed lurkers who could be potentially interested in your content.

It’s been found that fewer than 10% of people who read forums, groups and blogs engage with them at all; and that a high proportion of that engagement is simply a ‘like’, ‘thumbs up’, G+ or similar.

Social media marketing relies on engagement in some way – either a ‘like’ signal to the search engines to show that your content adds value, a share (even better), a comment, a click or a link.

By monitoring the read receipts on group posts, social media marketers can truly know what proportion of people who see the post are engaging with it – something that could only be assumed before.

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Aaron Charlie


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