Facebook has rolled out a subscribe button that allows users to share and obtain information from others, even if they are not connected as friends.
The service seems to be mainly designed to help public figures, such as journalists, politicians, and artists, share information without having to create a separate page through Facebook's Pages feature.
The subscribe button also allows people to further customize the information that flows on their newsfeed by allowing them to sign up for all updates, most updates, or important updates only, for each user they subscribe to, in addition to providing an option to select which type of content to receive - such as status updates or photos.
The company issued a number of posts yesterday to explain subscriptions, solicit feedback and clarify how the service is different from Pages, which, based on Facebook's explanation, seems to be designed as more of a marketing tool for brands, whereas subscriptions is meant for individuals who are representing themselves.
"Pages have advanced marketing features for managing your brand or business on Facebook,” the company outlined in a post introducing the subscribe option. “Pages can be maintained by multiple people on your team, have insights to understand who your fans are, and can target posts by language and location (e.g. tell only fans in New York about your show there.) Pages can also be promoted with Facebook Ads and Sponsored Stories.”
Facebook appears to be positioning Pages as a tool for brands and companies interested in metrics and analytics, while the subscribe option is more for users who want to connect with friends, family, and subscribers from one personal page.
“After you allow subscribers, anyone who's interested can get your public updates, without you having to add them as a friend first,” Facebook said in a post. “For example, if you are a journalist, you can use a profile to share press coverage with your readers and ask them to post tips to help guide your research and investigation.”
One group this presents an issue for is public figures who have already created separate Pages to communicate with members of the public who fall outside their personal circle of family and friends. Now the subscribe option has launched, these users will have to decide whether to abandon their Pages and add a subscribe option, maintain both, or hold off on adding a subscribe option to see if the service really clicks with the Facebook audience.