Facebook Adds Subscription Option to Profiles; Benefits to Merchants
In an attempt at making interaction more asymmetrical (the way Twitter works), Facebook recently added an option called "Subscribe" to user profiles. What this means is that you no longer have to friend someone to receive his or her content.
The question is, why would a social network that, for years, has been bent on creating symmetrical connections offer a function that does not include that requirement? Perhaps it's the same reason that Facebook Pages no longer require that someone like the page before being able to interact with comments.
Facebook cites its rationale thusly: "If you are an individual who wants to share your updates with a larger audience, you may want to use a profile with subscribers. Public Figures, like Malcolm Gladwell, can use a profile with subscribe, a Page, or both."
How It Works
Though the function is pitched as a way for users to hear from "interesting people" - journalists, celebrities, and political figures - you don't have to be a noted celebrity or newsmaker to use the subscribe function, just set your profile to allow subscribers using these steps:
Go to your profile (timeline) and click Subscriptions on the left side of the page, under your profile picture.
Click "Allow Subscribers" at the top of this tab.
After you click "Allow Subscribers," your settings appear. From here, you can edit who can comment on your public posts and when you’re notified about new subscribers.
You can also go to https://www.facebook.com/about/subscribe to start allowing people to subscribe to your public updates.
What about privacy, you may ask. The subscribe function offers that, too. You can allow anyone, whether friend or not, to subscribe (Facebook uses the term "public"), or limit the option strictly to friends. Also, Facebook now allows per-post privacy settings so you can select who sees your status updates, photos and other content posted to your Wall.
Furthermore, subscribers can choose whether they see all your updates, most updates, or only what Facebook determines to be most important.
Benefit to Merchants
I see three benefits to merchants allowing others to subscribe to content.
It opens the door to a wider audience. In marketing terms, we refer to that as "reach."
It strengthens your personal brand. In social media, people prefer to connect with other individuals rather than brands. The subscribe function is a way to facilitate such personal connections, while maintaining a tie to your business. You become a representative of your company in that sense.
It makes content searchable. While still not indexable by search engines (to my knowledge), public posts are searchable inside the Facebook ecosystem. For example, if I search the term "jewelry," then click "See more results" from the drop-down menu, I can choose the "Public Posts" link located in the left-hand column and see posts from people who have used that term.
Not everything you share needs to be made public. After all, you're using Facebook not only for business reasons, but personal ones, as well. With the in-line privacy settings, you control who sees what content.
With that in mind, perhaps you only make public those posts that relate to your business, while keeping such things as family photos limited to friends.
Don't think that celebrities and newsmakers are the only ones worth following. You have something of importance to say, too. Perhaps it's time to consider yourself a "newsmaker." You can do so by offering the subscription option to the public at large, not just friends.
Great post Paul! I sure see benefits from being subscribed to a "newsmaker" or just someone who I value his thoughts. Can't agree more on the idea that -"It strengthens your personal brand". Overall, it was spot on an very informative- thanks!