While this sounds like a copycat move (and let’s face it, it is in response to the competitive pressures that the social network has faced in recent months) it’s smart for Facebook to introduce this kind of offering.
The Facebook blog describes the subscribe offering like this.
Until now, it hasn’t been easy to choose exactly what you see in your News Feed. Maybe you don’t want to see every time your brother plays a game on Facebook, for example. Or maybe you’d like to see more stories from your best friends, and fewer from your coworkers.
You also couldn’t hear directly from people you’re interested in but don’t know personally—like journalists, artists and political figures.
With the Subscribe button, we’re making it easier to do both. In the next few days, you’ll start seeing this button on friends’ and others’ profiles. You can use it to:
1. Choose what you see from people in News Feed
2. Hear from people, even if you’re not friends
3. Let people hear from you, even if you’re not friends
So to summarize, you can now follow people like on Twitter and they can follow you without declaring a false friendship. That’s a good thing. Now, it opens up a whole other avenue for content to be created a shared through Facebook’s social graph and that’s good as well.
What’s not so good is that as each service starts to look more and more like each other it will be up to the end user to determine who wins here. The early bets would have to be on Facebook because most people have so entrenched their social media lives in the site that they have less incentive to leave if they can do everything inside Facebook.
What’s also going to be interesting is just how the adoption rates go for Facebook beyond the tech crowd. Robert Scoble is already foaming at the mouth over this option so be ready for his attempt to corner the early goings on in the new race for your identity online.
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Back to the offering. Users can now throttle what they see in updates from people which doesn’t sound so appealing to me since I may actually filter out something important based on some parameter that I may not even control. That is still to be determined.
You can also follow people without being their friend. By subscribing you are allowing their public updates to come to you. Of course, the reverse case exists in that the only way to get those results is to allow people to subscribe to your public feed.
Admittedly this is all pretty neat but at the same time it is starting to feel like social media TMI creep is happening at an accelerated pace. I for one can only absorb so much. From a marketing perspective the possibilities start to come to mind fast and furiously but how much can others keep up with while still having a job and a life (supposedly)?
These changes are coming soon to your Facebook account so keep an eye out for your chance to fulfill your vanity needs and see who will subscribe to your stuff and in what volume. Oh and if you want some entertainment read the comments on the Facebook blog post as people berate the company for not fixing what it already has. It’s an interesting read on many levels.
So what’s your take? Do you subscribe to this new option from Facebook?