Will Users ‘Subscribe’ Or ‘Follow’?

I suppose I wasn’ t the only one confused with the new Facebook changes. I could no longer find recent and top stories, the privacy settings changed, pictures got bigger. Facebook developers are altering the site constantly to keep up with trends, and we can’t blame them. Eventually, we’ll get used to every change (although the confession of Mark Zuckenberg that they are monitoring your Internet activity even after you logged out is quite disturbing).

One of the new features that Facebook introduced in September is a “subscribe” option. The feature is, in my opinion, similar to “following” somebody on Twitter. Its great advantage is that people can “subscribe” and see your professional/public activity, but you don’ t have to accept them as a friend. This is part of Facebook’s effort to give users more control over their accounts and their News Feeds. But I think that it  is also a great tool for PR practitioners and journalists who want the general public to know about their work, articles or campaigns but don’ t want them to to see your pictures and personal updates.

If you would like to promote your work this way, the only thing you have to do is to enable the “subscribe” option on your profile. Once you enable it, it will appear on your personal profile. You can subscribe to other people’s profiles in the area of your interest as well. You can choose how many and what kind of public updates you will receive from them.

Now you might ask, what is the difference between the fan pages and the “subscribe” option? Fan pages are not that flexible — for example, even after one hundred “likes” you still can’ t change the name of the fan page. You can’t monitor other people’s activities or enjoy a two-way dialogue with them. The “subscribe” option enables you direct distribution into the News Feeds of your readers and two-way dialogue.

Do you think Facebook will be successful with new its new “subscribe” feature? Do you think it can compete with Twitter and its “follow” option? And finally,  do you think it might help PR professionals to communicate better with their audiences?

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8 Responses to Will Users ‘Subscribe’ Or ‘Follow’?

  1. dlkline says:

    All I keep hearing from people is…”I hate the new Facebook.” Maybe it is simply the fact that most of us resist change of any kind or maybe it really is a change for the worse. Only time will tell, but the idea that Facebook is monitoring my Internet activity even after I log out is very disturbing to me. I’m not sure if these new Facebook changes can and will compete with Twitter as I think they are two very different animals.

  2. caolson says:

    From what I can tell, the new features seem to be an attempt by Facebook to remain relevant as new social media sites like Google+, which seem to have much more stable privacy features, pop up. Personally, I would be extremely wary of using Facebook to mix the personal and professional. In the past, Facebook has had some serious privacy issues, and I would much rather keep personal and professional activities separate than try to use the new features and risk personal information getting into the wrong hands. For this reason, if PR professionals are going to use Facebook, I would retain a separate professional profile, rather than try to blend both.

  3. rsteinga says:

    Aside from the fact that Facebook is clearly trying to dominate all social media, the “subscribe” option actually seems like a good idea. It is obvious that they are copying Twitter, but if people end up liking it and using it, the origin of the idea won’t matter all that much. I think it is always interesting to see how people react to the changes. I am not able to think of a change that people didn’t initially hate, but then got used to and ended up liking. When the next change came, those same people who threw the original fit, end up trying desperately to avoid the next change.

  4. lkapetan says:

    We definitely have to count on the fact that social media platforms will change rapidly, no matter if we like it or not. Personally, I don’t like new Facebook. With some new options they are just making life more complicated. For me it is hard to keep track of all these changes. And Twitter is definitely much aster so here is an answer to your question…I thnk FB’s “follow” option cannot compete with Twitter.

  5. lworthin says:

    I think the new “subscribe” button is a great thing. Celebrities will no longer have a limitation of “friends” (you can only have 5,000 friends) and it will limit people having to manage more than one page at a time. Plus, since they have Google+ and Twitter as examples, they have made adjustments to make them better than what the two other competing sites offer. I think this is going to be a great tool for PR practitioners as is Twitter, and if it takes off it could become big competition.

  6. smwillar says:

    I think that the first step when major changes like this happen is for people to learn about their updated privacy functions. With this new “subscribe” service you mentioned that it would give someone access to “professional/public activity, but you don’t have to accept them as a friend.” This is alarming to me because I like having the authority over who can see my profile. There are people out there who I don’t ever want to know about my personal business. Like you said, I think that people will eventually catch on to this new feature but it will take some time, especially for the older age group. In my opinion, its format has to get more complicated for it to institute this change, which is why I think that Twitter will come out on top with this idea.

    As for PR professionals, I think that it could definitely pave the way for easier communication between target audiences and message dissemination.

  7. ammarty says:

    Facebook is really trying to take over the world now — and I am afraid to say — it is working. They are once again leading the way in cutting-edge features and I commend them for it. As annoying as all the changes may be, I don’t see anyone deleting their Facebooks or activity declining. In fact, in the past month my grandmother and my mom have joined the FB world because of all the press they have gotten with the new changes and people’s reactions. So really, they may have “annoyed” users but it was a great media move as they have generated more coverage than ever and managed to attract even more members. I think this new “subscribe” button is brilliant. Fan pages were a good start but now with how popular Twitter has become, they like most social media tactics from a year ago, are obsolete. The new wave of SM with Google+ and all the Twitter features are now able to subscribe to someone or something and to better filter your news instead of just a “mini feed” that cannot be truely filtered as can Twitter. I personally use this feature to follow things I care about and it saves me lots of wasted time! I think this is a great tool that will continue to evolve in the FB world and help people save time. And we all know that we are a society of on-the-go people with just such little time to waste following those we don’t care about! 😉

  8. abwolfe says:

    It is always frustrating when Facebook makes unnecessary changes to their site layout. That being said, they do what they can to stay ahead of the game and not only keep up with trends, but start new ones. As far as “subscribing” or “following” is concerned, I don’t believe most of the users will really pay attention. Most will likely just do both without questioning the difference. We are all sheep in Mark Zuckerberg’s flock, and we will follow him wherever he leads us.

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