Would Facebook Users Like an Option to Subscribe to Brands?

“We are currently testing the ability to subscribe to Pages with a small group. This feature allows people to receive updates from Pages without liking the Page. We have no further details to share at this time.”

– Facebook Rep to Marketingland.com

First, it must be said: Just because this is being tested doesn’t mean that it will be pushed live. But still…

This can’t be particularly good for brands… right??

Let’s use this space to discuss why the change might be made, what it could mean, and the potential positives and negatives of such a change.

Why Add Subscribe Option for Pages?

On the surface, this seems silly and unnecessary (and it may even be silly and unnecessary beneath the surface). You have two options for relationships with people on Facebook: 1) Friends (two-way), or 2) Subscribe (one-way).

Yet, there is only one option with brands, and it’s one-way. So why would you add another one-way option to the mix?

The motivation here is undoubtedly focused on the user. Personally, I don’t Like many Facebook Pages because I don’t like the public endorsement, particularly around touchy subjects.

My guess is that Facebook wants to remove this discomfort, remove the barrier that may be preventing users from connecting with brands.

But wouldn’t my friends know when I subscribe to a brand’s Page? Or interact with their content? And wouldn’t the fact that I subscribe still be used within advertising?

I don’t know, still seems ridiculous.

What it Could Mean to Subscribe to a Page

According to the report from Marketingland, a Subscribe button would be added next to Like…

Marketing Land Subscribe Facebook

From Marketingland’s Facebook Page (courtesy of Marketingland.com)

Users would still get updates from the Brand, but they just wouldn’t “Like” it. Other than that, I really can’t tell you how the relationship would be any different.

How Subscriptions Could be Good for Brands

I’m reaching here, but if a Subscribe option makes people more willing to connect with a brand, it’s good for business.

I really don’t have anything else for you here… And that’s partly good. I’m perplexed by the difference between the two options, so I’m not sure how bad it could actually be (though it’s not clear that it adds any value).

How Subscriptions Could be Bad for Brands

First, it could be confusing. “How many Likes do you have?” Oh, I have 300… But I have 3,000 subscriptions!

Second, losing an implied endorsement is bad. You’re pretty pumped about the number of people who dig you now. With subscriptions, they’re saying “I dig you, but not that much…”

Third, the unknown. This is all in the rumor mill phase. The “bad” that could be involved is like asking, “What bad things could happen if I cross the street?” Well, any number of things, if you want to think negatively.

Will brands lose certain access to those people? Will they still be targeted via ads (like Promoted Posts) that could be sent only to fans? Will the subscription be kept private, thus preventing friends from knowing and making the same connection?

In Conclusion

In conclusion, I’m admittedly confused. I don’t understand why such an option would be considered, tested or implemented. I don’t understand the value added by allowing a “subscribe” option for brands.

But I’m also concerned. My assumption is that there must be a significant difference between the two to offer it as an option. And because of that, I can’t help but worry about what will happen when I cross the street. Every change I consider is bad for brands.

What do you think? Is this a change you’d welcome? Are you confused, concerned, excited??