Learn all about a new feature that Facebook is testing that allows you to notify select friends about all your hilarious misadventures and pictures of sausage dogs. But first, a little story…

It began with me discovering that Darren Hayes, the lead singer of 90s Australian pop band Savage Garden, had blocked me on Twitter.

Yes, that’s right, the singer of ‘Truly Madly Deeply’ and ‘To the Moon and Back’ does not wish to hear all the various witty things I have to say on Twitter.

I have no idea why or how this has happened – it may have just been an accident, or perhaps there’s another Christopher Ratcliff out there causing him grief – nor will I go through the boring reasons how I found this out (NO I WASN’T STALKING HIM, although yes that would explain a few things), but this has made me think in my many years as a music writer, “how many other minor celebrities have blocked me without me knowing?”

Phew, it’s okay, me and Miffy are still tight.

miffy twitter

Anyway, the point is, I was amused and confused by this in equal measure, and therefore I felt the need to share this development with my friends. And rather than share it on Twitter and risk upsetting Mr Hayes any further, I thought I’d share it with my close friends on Facebook instead…

Facebook status update

That’s when I noticed a brand new feature on my newly updated status. Check out the bottom of the above image.

I can ‘notify a few friends about this post’ by clicking the Get Started button.

This leads me to a text box, where I can type in up to 10 friends’ names who will each receive a notification about my update, but no knowledge of who else has received it. (Read more...) they tell one another in the comments under the post, which would obviously be terribly embarrassing.

Playing out this whole scenario in my head, I chose only to notify my wife.

facebook notify friends

And here’s the notification she received…

facebook notification

Which then led to an awkward conversation where I questioned why she hadn’t then liked my post, but whatever!

Apparently this is just a test rolled out to a select few in the UK, Canada and France. The fact that I have this new feature *maybe* makes up for the fact that I was seemingly the last person in the world to get their ‘Reaction’ emojis.

Previously you could (and still can) just tag your friends in any post and that would guarantee they’d see it. They would also see who else is tagged in the post, and everyone would receive notifications regarding any interaction around it.

You have to use this carefully as it can be a bit spammy, especially if you’re tagging loads of friends, multiple times.

This new feature instead adds a layer of secrecy to proceedings, where nobody has to know who else is notified.

However, again, you have to be really careful about doing this, as it can still be rather spammy. Remember the old ‘poke’ function. Yeah, that’s why that got chucked in the bin.

Anyway, you’ll probably be asking yourself right now, why is this relevant to Search Engine Watch or ClickZ? Well, because there are certain ways you can use it to your advantage…

For instance, I run a small pop culture website, with a struggling Facebook presence. It’s hard to get anyone to take notice of anything on the channel, and it just gets buried. However now if I write an article that I’m particularly proud of (this one? Mmmm, sure) at the very least I can post it on my personal Facebook feed and notify a few friends about the good(!?) work I’ve done.

But AGAIN, this can be terribly spammy, so AGAIN² don’t do this too much.

Final note: I’m aware of the irony of trying to keep the Darren Hayes blocking story away from Twitter in order to keep it a secret, and yet talking about it at length in an article that will be seen by a far wider audience than it would have on Twitter or Facebook, so you don’t have to bring it up.

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