Earlier this week, Facebook introduced the “Subscribe” button. In Facebook’s words, the button allows you to do three things:
- Choose what you see from people in News Feed
- Hear from people, even if you’re not friends
- Let people hear from you, even if you’re not friends (Source)
Immediately, several media outlets pointed out the obvious — this must be a reaction to Twitter and Google+! Skatter Tech calls it a “poor attempt to be Twitter” while CNET’s headline calls it a “Twitter-like” feature.
On paper, Facebook’s “Subscribe” button has some great advantages. Essentially, it’s an easy way for you to stalk people. Social media enthusiasts and thought leaders will definitely eat this up. Within two days, Mark Zuckerberg’s personal account has over 5 million subscribers, although Zuckerberg has no interesting public updates yet. Thought leaders such as journalists could also benefit from the Subscribe button.
After thinking about this feature, however, I am not convinced that this will go mainstream. My prediction is that it will have a low adoption rate. My main three reasons are the following:
Reason #1: It’s redundant.
Many thought leaders such as authors, bloggers and even journalists already have proper Facebook pages. The Subscribe button is supposed to encourage us regular folks to share more stuff publicly. But why would Joe somebody do so on Facebook?
People’s joke that the Subcribe button makes it easy to stalk others is actually not totally baseless. I can think of only two reasons why someone who isn’t a Facebook friend would subscribe to my posts: a.) In the hopes that I’d subscribe back so they can spam my stream or b.) They’d like to stalk me. Neither one is attractive.
Reason #2: The culture thing.
In my opinion, one of the reasons why Facebook lists has such a low adoption rate is because it contradicted the Facebook culture. People are creatures of habits, and by the time Facebook introduced the list feature, users were already used to simply accepting friend requests without doing the extra step of adding friends to lists. Classifying friends was not (and still isn’t) part of Facebook’s culture. I’m sure there were other issues (such as the fact that using Facebook lists is a big pain in the butt), but that’s a contributing factor why that feature simply fizzled.
With the Subscribe button, Facebook is again introducing something that isn’t inherent with the site. By now, many of Facebook’s 750 million users are used to sending friend requests, not to following people via subscriptions. If I really want to follow someone’s posts on Facebook, I’d probably take the less creepy route and just send a friend request.
Reason #3: It’s complicated.
Look, I understand that change is the only thing that’s constant in this world. I really do.
But with this feature, Facebook is going down the wrong path of further complicating the web site. And for what? Essentially to try to copy Google+. Lame, if you ask me.
Complicating matters is the fact that the feature is by opt-in. This is obviously the right move from the privacy perspective, but I really doubt that most users would take the time to enable it.
All that said….
It’s pretty clear that I’m not really a fan of this new feature, but as a social media geek, I feel the need to at least give it a try. To subscribe to my public posts, visit:
(You need to be logged in to subscribe or to view my profile.) As of this writing, I already have 11 subscribers — all of them subscribed to my posts after I subscribed to Mark Zuckerberg’s. Pretty suspicious, right?
Facebook Subscribe button — what do YOU think?
My rant ends here. What do you think of this new feature? Will it catch on? Am I totally wrong? Leave your comments below.