What Does Facebook’s New Subscribe Feature Really Mean?

by on September 17, 2011 at 11:48 am

Facebook now has a subscribe button so you can either subscribe to friends or subscribe to people’s feeds who are not friends. The idea would be that rather than clutter your news feed up with everyone you know, you can subscribe to certain aspects of their lives (personal, professional) or both and not others.

Additionally you subscribe to journalists, celebrities, political figures and other people too just like you would subscribe to their RSS feed for example. For each person, you could hide all game stories, see just photos, limit updates to life events and more.

Clearly this is something Facebook should have done a long time ago and it could be a desperate attempt to keep people locked in or woo others to come back who may have left for a much cleaner Google+ with its nifty “circles” approach.

The difference between the “subscribe” button and a page is largely around whether you’re a business or celebrity.

If you’re a business, Facebook forces you into the “page route.” If you’re an individual with a lot of friends or your business just warrants that you know a lot of people (sales, new business development, PR, marketing — this is my situation btw and I’ve exceeded my 5,000 limit), then you’re stuck going to a “page” when it may not really be the best solution.

Their example is of a public figure such as Malcolm Gladwell, who can use a profile with “Subscribe”, a page or both. A few differences between them below:

Pages can be maintained by multiple people on your team, offer insights to understand who your fans are, and let you target posts by language and location (ex: Tell only fans in New York about your show there next week). You can also promote Pages with Facebook Ads and Sponsored Stories.