Social Media

Facebook’s subscribe feature is proving very popular, especially among journalists

Vadim Lavrusik - Journalist Program Manager at Facebook
Vadim Lavrusik - Journalist Program Manager at Facebook
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Vadim Lavrusik - Journalist Program Manager at Facebook
Vadim Lavrusik - Journalist Program Manager at Facebook

Facebook’s subscribe button, which can be suitably compared to Twitter’s follow button, is proving very popular indeed, allowing users to subscribe to the public updates of prominent figures and personalities on Facebook.

Facebook Subscribe first launched in September 2011 and allows ordinary Facebook users receive public updates from prominent users that have enabled the feature, without the need to add as a friend – much like users would follow celebrity or journalist accounts on Twitter.

The feature has proved especially popular among journalists according to Facebook’s own analysis of a sample of 25 newshounds who enabled the feature upon launch. Since November 2011, the average journalist has experienced a 320% increase in subscriber numbers.

News organisations leading the way on Facebook include the Washington Post with over 90 journalists using Subscribe, and The New York Times with over 50 journalists using the feature.

Facebook users discover journalists and other prominent figures to subscribe to in a number of different ways; through friends’ activities, Facebook search and through recommendations suggested by Facebook. I suspect the latter is the most influential method of gaining subscribers.

Facebook’s analysis found that, unsurprisingly, posts posing questions, posts with links and posts that contained a call to action like “read my link” or “check out my interview” received more comments, likes and shares. Posts with photos received 50% more likes.

Many journalists have been able to amass subscribers at a much faster rate that they would Twitter followers, potentially convincing them to spend less time on other networks like Twitter and Google+ to a lesser extent, in favour of greater audiences and public Facebook updates.

Meanwhile, I have nine subscribers on Facebook. Why not join me?

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Darren McCarra
Darren McCarra is co-editor of The Sociable. He has a keen interest in photography, all things mobile, and writing about technology and social media. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.