Facebook recently rolled out a variety of tweaks and updates to its social networking site, including adding a Subscribe option. I wrote about embracing Facebook Subscriptions and abandoning my Facebook Page, but after further consideration I think there is a case to be made for maintaining both Facebook entities.
While ditching the Facebook Page and just using Subscriptions on my personal Facebook profile to share information with the general public makes sense from my perspective, and those who currently "Like" or follow my Facebook Page won't notice any difference, those who are in my personal social network end up flooded with information they may have no interest in.
The Facebook Subscriptions make sense as a Facebook Page replacement from my end.
I like being able to choose on a post by post basis on Google+ whether to share the update with specific groups in my social network, or with the general public. I like the increased interaction and more lively discussions that result from including a wider audience.
The only reason I set up the Facebook Page in the first place is that I wanted to be able to use Facebook to share information with PCWorld readers without having to "Friend" them all. Don't get me wrong--I appreciate your support, but that doesn't mean we're "friends". I don't want to share details of my personal life with you.
But, having a Facebook Page separate from my personal Facebook profile means maintaining two separate Facebook personas. At times, there are posts that I think are of interest to both my personal social network and the followers of my Facebook Page, but sharing with both audiences means posting twice. And, posting twice means that the comments are separate as well, which means both groups potentially lose out on insights and points of view from the other.
Using Subscriptions, I can just choose whether to share a given post with my personal social network, or I can share it with "Public", in which case all of those who are subscribed to me will see it as well. It lets me accomplish the same goal with one Facebook persona, and it lets both my personal social network and my public subscribers interact together on posts they can both see.
For those who currently "Like" my Facebook Page, there is really no significant difference using Facebook Subscribe. Assuming I post the same links and content to "Public" on my personal Facebook Profile as I do on my Facebook Page, the end result is the same either way.
It may also mean getting more diverse content from me, though. On my Facebook Page, I am more likely to keep it purely professional and only share my own posts, or at least technology-related posts. On my personal Facebook profile I might also share posts that are not tech related, but also aren't really personal--like posts about sports, or politics, and other topics.
For my social network
While some readers may want to stick with the tech news and stay away from sports and politics, it is my personal social network that really gets the raw deal in this exchange. Granted, I'd like to think that those in my personal social network like to stay informed and read my articles as well, but I am conscious of the fact that Facebook can be noisy enough.
While I can choose whether to share an update with just my social network, or with the whole world, there is no option to share with the whole world minus my social network. So, even though I can censor my personal posts so the general public doesn't see them, I can't filter my public posts so that my personal social network isn't flooded with them.
If I start inundating my family and friends with everything I write, and filling their Facebook flow with a bunch of tech news, it makes it that much harder for anyone to use it as a social network--you know, for being social. The extra noise may force them to miss updates they would be interested in, and ultimately the volume of my posts could get me filtered or blocked.
Then, when I do post something like news about the kids, holiday plans, etc. those who are in my social network won't even see it because they won't be paying attention to my posts any more. It's a little like the boy who cried wolf syndrome.
So, is Facebook subscribe useless?
No. There is a place for Facebook Subscribers. It's just not quite the streamlined communication silver bullet I imagined it to be.
For those outside of my social network who only want to follow my writing and see tech related news from me, the Facebook Page is the way to go.
If you also would like to follow me in general, a' la Twitter, you can Subscribe to my personal Facebook profile as well. There you will see sports, politics, and general interest type posts.
For those actually in my social network, I still think you should "Like" my Facebook Page and read my articles and such, but fear not--I won't overwhelm you with tech news on the personal Facebook side of the fence.
So, for now, I will continue to maintain both my personal Facebook social network, and my public Facebook Page. I will also leave the Subscribe option enabled for those who wish to use it. I reserve the right to revisit this issue, though, if Facebook adds a new filter that somehow enables me to share a post just to "everyone in the world except those in my social network" or something to that effect.