In order to compete more directly with Twitter, Facebook is launching a method for users to subscribe to an author’s updates at the site that published the author’s article. Very similar to following a Twitter user, all public updates from that author will appear in the Facebook feed after clicking the subscribe button. This new plug-in can be embedded on any site and is likely most suitable near the author’s name on an article or the author’s bio page on the site. While author subscriptions could become a popular way to keep up with notable writers and journalists, the publisher runs the risk of overloading user’s Facebook feeds with too much content or content that isn’t relevant to the site. Web publishers will likely have to alter social media policy to include regulating public posts on personal Facebook pages.
Facebook rolled out the subscription feature for user profiles during mid-September 2011. Any user that allows subscriptions allows other users to subscribe to public updates similar to a Twitter feed. However, subscribers won’t be able to see status updates and wall posts that are restricted to friends only. Also similar to Google+, this system allows public figures to be followed, but offers security to the followed user. There’s no limit to subscriptions on Facebook, but the friend’s list is limited to 5000 users. Users can find the subscribe button at the top right hand corner of a typical user profile page. Users can currently view who is subscribing to their account and view the subscriptions on friend’s accounts.
Users that are broadcasting to subscribers also run the risk of annoying current friends with posts about new articles or events relevant to the publisher site. While Facebook hasn’t announced a launch date for the new Subscribe plug-in for publisher sites, release of the developer code is expected in the coming weeks.