Facebook subscriptions are about to blow up! At Le Web, Joanna Shields, VP and Managing Director for Facebook Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), announced that the company is planning to roll out a “Subscribe” plugin for all websites. The plugin will allow a website’s visitors a one-click way to begin following all of the news from an individual reporter, public figure, politician, celebrity, or anyone else who wants to post public updates via their Facebook user profile.
You may recall that Facebook launched its “subscriptions” feature earlier this fall at its annual f8 conference. The button, available as an optional addition to your Facebook user profile, introduced a Twitter-like functionality to the social networking service. It introduced one-way friendships (at last!) where a user could follow someone, like a public figure, celebrity, politician, journalist, etc., without that person having to “friend” the subscriber in return. This benefits both parties – the subscriber who wants to use Facebook to receive the news, and the public figure who wants to reach their audience on Facebook, but isn’t a brand or company deserving of their own Facebook Fan Page.
Now this same one-way follow option is going to become easier to access through the new subscribe plugin. Publishers will be able to add the button to their websites, much like they do with the Twitter “follow” button today, allowing users one-click access to a person’s public updates. The updates from that person will then begin appearing in the subscriber’s News Feed, alongside updates from friends and the pages the user had previously “liked.”
While the introduction of a website button is typically relatively minor news, for Facebook, this is huge. It means that the company is directly attacking the entire Twitter model head-on, by allowing for these one-way subscription buttons to be as easy to use and as ubiquitous as they are for Twitter.
There is one downside to posting publicly on Facebook, however. If you’re a public figure who begins sharing your news at Twitter’s same pace, you’re sure to annoy your real Facebook friends. To fix this, our writer Josh Constine proposes that Facebook users choose to publish to “Subscribers Only” and exclude the rest of their friends.
Facebook’s subscribe button is coming “soon,” but Facebook isn’t confirming the launch date or time. Update: Our coverage of the official launch of the Subscribe button.