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With Facebook Subscribe Button, Be Careful What You Ask For



The Facebook subscribe button is now going to be appearing alongside many folks name online and it gives all of us an opportunity to have another look at these folks through their Facebook updates.

I get the general idea but my experience thus far with subscribing to people I am not friends with on Facebook has been spotty at best with most experiences being, quite frankly, VERY disappointing.

If you are unaware of the button here is a description from the LA Times

Facebook has launched a Subscribe button for websites, making it possible for users to subscribe to updates from their favorite journalists and other public figures without leaving their sites.

The company said the plug-in — which is already live on sites including All Things D, the Huffington Post and the Washington Post — would give publishers and other developers another way to gain subscribers, connect with readers and drive traffic to their Facebook profiles.

In a Facebook blog post Thursday, the company said once a user clicks a Subscribe button, the public posts of the person they have subscribed to will begin appearing in the user’s News Feed.

Josh Constine of TechCrunch suggests that there should be a separate list for one’s subscribers so separate messages can go out to them without the subscribee spamming his or her friends.

I have one major gripe with Facebook’s Subscribe feature: I have to publish to all my friends to reach my Subscribers. In September, Facebook launched Subscribe, its Twitter-esque option that lets people receive the public updates of other users without being their friends. But I don’t publish my articles to my Subscribers who want to read them because I don’t want to spam my friends who aren’t interested in tech news. This same issue is impacting a lot of journalists, public figures, and other content producers, and I believe it’s preventing wider adoption of the Subscribe feature.

Honestly, I am getting “shared out”. I find that following “important people” ends up the same way that prized toy used to at Christmas. You finally get it, it’s cool and shiny for a day then it goes to the island of discarded once cool things. All of this sharing is actually starting to make me realize how much I missed some of the mystery that surrounded people of influence.

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So go ahead and subscribe to your favorite people. Do that often enough and you may actually drown out your real friends in your Facebook feed. After all, that’s what people want you to do. They are saying “Don’t pay attention to your friends, let me talk to you without being your friend and hopefully monopolize your time so you make me more successful in some way!”.

Be careful what you ask for because we are rapidly heading toward a time where oversharing will devalue, or at the very least drown out, things that actually matter. That’s not a good result.

What do you think?

  • http://www.adigaskell.org/blog Adi Gaskell

    It’s a tricky one isn’t it and rather odd when Facebook have done a reasonable amount to let you segment your friend list and send updates accordingly. Hopefully they’ll add similar functionality to the subscribe feature as well.