Facebook ‘Subscribe Button’, An Entirely New Way to Connect:
Facebook rolled out a feature that introduced an entirely new relationship category to the social networking site.
Until now, users could only be friends with one another on Facebook. Starting today, they’ll also be able to “subscribe” to each other thanks to a new setting that allows individual profiles to behave more like Facebook fan pages.
A user will have the option of adding a “subscribe” button to her profile to enable people who are not her friends to see her public updates in their News Feeds, rather than having to visit her profile page directly. She will receive a notification when someone has signed up to see her updates, and will have the option of controlling who can comment on and “like” her posts.
Before ‘Subscription’ there were only two types of relationships one could have on Facebook: symmetrical friendship where both users confirmed they wanted to see each other’s content in the news feed, and Liking of Pages where one user chose to see updates in the news feed from a public entity such as a business. Many thought Facebook would have already launched such a feature. However, the company appears to finally be ready to expand its scope after implementing an increase in the transparency and ease of publishing to specific audiences including the public.
Some people who post publicly have a public presence and want to interact with people beyond their friends, ~Naomi Gleit
Director of product at Facebook, told The Huffington Post,”This allows them to reach people beyond their friends.”
In a blog post, Facebook suggested that “journalists, artists and political figures” might take advantage of the new tool. If you see a Subscribe button on your favorite blogger’s profile, this means you can subscribe. Just click the button to get their public updates right in your News Feed,” Facebook wrote.
Though it remains to be seen how — and if — users will take to this feature, the subscribe button appears to have the potential to shift the social dynamic on Facebook by changing how people connect and how they communicate.
Asymmetrical Following Through the Subscribe Button
Now, users will have the ability to opt in allowing subscribers. This places a Subscribe button on their profile which non-friends can click to begin viewing the updates they publish with the privacy setting of public. The user being subscribed to doesn’t have to confirm each connection, and won’t see content of their subscribers in the news feed.
Technically, the Subscribe button just makes consumption of public updates more convenient and its opt in, so there aren’t any serious privacy concerns. Someone could already visit the profile of a non-friend and see their public updates, but now they’ll be sent them through the news feed. Those opting into subscriptions can select to allow or disallow comments by subscribers, and activate notifications about gaining new subscribers.
Asymmetrical following will create a middle ground between personal profiles for private updating and Facebook Pages that are totally public. If a user has opted in to allowing subscriptions and they reject a friend request from someone, that person will automatically become a subscriber. The option should be especially helpful to self-promoters who’ve hit Facebook’s 5,000 friend limit. If users amass a subscriber base and later want to become a Page with update targeting, applications, and analytics, Facebook has confirmed that they’ll be able to convert their subscribers into Likes.
The Subscribe button puts Facebook in direct competition with Twitter, as well as Google+, which are both built around assymetrical following. Journalists, thought leaders, celebrities, or anyone who chooses to publish publicly will be able to amass a subscriber base, gain more impressions for their posted content, and engage with strangers by tapping into Facebook’s enormous user base and familiar discussion tools. Facebook’s Director of Product Naomi Gleit tells us, “We want you to be able to broaden your conversations, comment and interact with people who are outside of your friend circle.”
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