What you need to know about the new Facebook subscribe button

Facebook launched yet another new feature last week – the new ‘subscribe’ button. Facebook is cleverly competing with both Twitter and Google+ – bringing in some of the great features of both those social networks. In this article I will give you a quick overview of the features and then discuss some of the benefits of this new feature.

How subscribing works

You can subscribe to anyone who has allowed this feature by visiting their profile and click on the ‘subscribe’ button at the top right of their profile page.

When you subscribe to someone (either a Facebook friend or not):

  • you can choose how many updates to receive from an individual you’ve subscribed to – this is good for filtering ‘noisy people’ (I’m one of them I have to confess!)
  • you can subscribe to celebrities’ public Facebook updates without actually being ‘friends’ with them on Facebook – this means their updates will appear in your home feed like those of your friends

When you allow people to subscribe to you:

  • you can choose whether you want your status update to be public, viewable by all your facebook friends or viewable to certain people only – this copies the ‘circles’ feature on Google+. So in this image you can see that I can choose whether this update is viewable to the public, friends or specific lists of friends I’ve created. You can change this at any time by clicking on the icon in the top right of the update. I think the default is ‘friends’.

  • You can see now where it will be useful to create lists of friends (especially if you have a lot of them). This works in the same way as Google+ circles. So for example, you could create a list of friends from work and post an update to be seen just by your work colleagues about a work event that wasn’t relevant to anyone else on Facebook.
  • you can now also view your profile as other people see it to check your settings. This is an easy way to see what your privacy settings look like. To do this visit your profile page and click on ‘view as’ in the top right:

So they are some of the features of this new button. I hope it makes some sense to you – if it doesn’t, please do email me and I’ll try and explain it a bit better!

Benefits of the subscribe button

It’s long been a problem trying to decide who to be ‘friends’ with on Facebook – should you be friends with your boss, your mum, your students etc? Previous advice I have given to teachers especially was to create a Facebook page for a class so that leaving students could still communicate with their old teacher but not actually be friends with them. This can still be a good solution for certain situations. However, now that this subscribe button exists, you could tell your students they can subscribe to you on Facebook instead of being ‘friends’. Then you can think about which status updates you’re happy to make ‘public’ and your students will see only those.

This is a great new feature for those of us who would like to keep both a professional persona on Facebook alongside a more friendly one for close friends. This is particularly useful, I think, for sole traders, journalists, artists, authors, comedians, musicians, teachers, lecturers, vicars/ministers and social workers.

Since going freelance I have wondered about creating a Facebook page for myself for my business. Fortunately, now I don’t have to, I can simply use this subscribe feature!

So, feel free to subscribe to my updates on Facebook! http://facebook.com/vahva

Let me know if you’ve used the subscribe button in a specific context (such as with students) – I’d love to hear how it’s working.

Allow people to subscribe to you

To switch this feature on do the following:

  1. Go to your profile and click Subscriptions on the left side of the page, under your profile picture.
  2. Click “Allow Subscribers” at the top of this tab.
  3. After you click “Allow Subscribers,” your settings appear. From here, you can edit who can comment on your public posts and when you’re notified about new subscribers.

You can also go to https://www.facebook.com/about/subscriptions to start allowing people to subscribe to your public updates.

You can control who is allowed to comment on your public status updates:

If you decide to allow subscribers, by default friends of your friends (including people you’re subscribed to) can comment on your updates. You also have the option of allowing anyone to comment on your updates.

To change who can comment on your public posts:

  1. Click Subscribers from the left side of your profile
  2. Click the top right Edit Settings button
  3. Choose On or Off as your Comments setting

If you have a Facebook page and you’re thinking of switching to just use the subscribe feature, keep it for now as Facebook have only just rolled this out and things change quickly!

More information about the subscribe feature is available in the Facebook Help Centre.


Finally, there are some other changes that have been launched on Facebook this week. These articles explain them really well and clearly:

New Facebook: 6 things you need to know



Five Facebook changes and what you need to know

Here’s a tour of the new features from Mashable:

Everything you need to know about the new Facebook layout

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