Facebook’s introduction of the “subscription” feature for profile pages has blurred certain lines between profile and fan pages for many individuals seeking to leverage social media to build their own personal brand and on-line presence. This is particularly true for many sales people, agents, etc. who are looking to use Facebook as a way to communicate with customers and prospects.

Facebook fan pages were originally created for brands like Coke or Walmart and expanded out to be used by celebrities, organizations, places, and many others. Many individuals who wanted to interact with fans, prospects, and customers also began to create fan pages since it was an effective way of separating their personal Facebook activity from their business or public Facebook presence. In addition, fan pages provided lower barrier to entry in that it did not require the page to “approve” each follower / fan / friend.

Facebook recently introduced their subscription feature as a lightweight way for an individual to share his updates with a larger audience. Similar to fan pages, a follower does not need approval from the page to access updates and the news feed. To many, this seems like an easy way to create a fan page like public news feed without the trouble of creating a fan page.

So, is the subscribe function right for you?

Let’s start by comparing the three options:

 

Unless you have 5000+ private friends, a standard Facebook profile page will most likely meet the needs for your personal Facebook activities. You can even start to segment your friends and updates (e.g. friends, family, work, etc.). While you should almost always assume that anything you post on Facebook could be made public, it’s the best way to keep your political rants, shopping and listening habits, and pictures of your kid from being easily accessible.  

Enable Subscribe

Some issues and thoughts with the subscribe functionality.

  • Most individuals prefer to control who can view their personal updates and information. If you are using the “public” news feed on top of your personal profile to communicate with friends, you need to be continually thinking whether the post is for public or “friend” consumption.

Facebook Status Update

 
  • For those that are using it to build their personal brand, you’re missing out on all the benefits that come from a Facebook fan page – most notably reporting, targeting, and the ability to promote and advertise your page. If you DO decide at a later time to create a Fan page, you’ve now got to go through the process of trying to get your subscribers to like your new fan page.
  • Some die-hards have taken the approach of managing both a subscription page AND a fan page. See Mari Smith’s Fan Page and Profile Page for an example.

MariSmith1   Mari2                   

  • The biggest challenge this creates is the need to create yet another stream of content for your fans. Do you post the same content to both? You may already be managing your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr, Blog, etc. feeds. Ask yourself what the incremental value will be for yet another feed.

Finally, there is a growing group of individuals – sales people, agents, employees, customer service representatives – who are looking to Facebook as a way to communicate with prospects and customers. These people are particularly concerned with separating their work and home social streams and some may look to the subscribe functionality to meet that need. There is an argument to be made however, that the dangers to be caused by possibly overlapping personal and work newsfeeds is even greater and could end up damaging either the employee or the company they represent. Fan pages for each employee in conjunction with a well designed social media management platform (SMMP) such as One To One Global's MessageMaker solution can provide a variety of benefits both for the employee as well as the brand or organization.

As you’re looking to leverage the power of social media, like anything else you’ll find that the tools and features available all have their respective pros and cons. Before you blindly enable a new feature within your Facebook settings, be sure you understand the privacy impacts as well as your goals and challenges with that public news feed.