Perhaps you've heard that Facebook has been tweaking the social network a bit? In the past few weeks Facebook has implemented a wide variety of changes--many of which mimic popular features from the rival Google+, and at least one of which leaves me with little reason to continue maintaining my Facebook Page.
Facebook finally added Subscriptions for personal profiles.
What is a Facebook Subscription you may ask? By opening up Subscriptions on my personal Facebook profile, I enable anyone who chooses to subscribe to my profile to see any posts I share with "Public".
When I first started using Facebook, I wanted to be able to share information and post links to my articles, but only those in my social network would be able to see those links and updates. Facebook has controls to allow me to filter my posts, but they've never been very easy to use. Basically, when I post something on my Facebook profile, everyone in my Facebook social network can see it.
I didn't want to share everything in my life with random strangers, and I didn't want to have to accept every one of my readers into my social network, so I created a Facebook Page. The Facebook Page is my public persona on Facebook, but now with Facebook Subscriptions I don't really need the Facebook Page anymore.
Borrowing from Twitter (or Google+)
In essence, Facebook Subscriptions adopts the Twitter model. Where Facebook has been about creating a more personal social network with family members and old high school friends, Twitter is a much more exhibitionist / voyeuristic social network in which anyone can follow anyone else and see everything they post.
It is possible to use Twitter to communicate with friends, family, and colleagues--either in a conversation open to the public, or in personal Direct Messages--and there are some controls available to lock Twitter down if you choose. But, the basic model is that I post every silly thought in my head--140 characters at a time--and random strangers who follow me will see those arbitrary thoughts show up in their Twitter feed.
When Google launched the Google+ social network, it created a sort of hybrid of Twitter and Facebook. Google+ also lets you put others in Circles (a.k.a. "follow") who are not part of your social network. The Circles concept, and the ability to choose who will see a given post on a case by case basis enable me to switch seamlessly between sharing personal information with family and close friends, and posting tech news, sports highlights, and other items that interest me to the public at large.
Easier and More Engaging
There are two reasons that I am embracing Facebook Subscriptions, and eventually abandoning my Facebook Page. One is that it makes it simpler to manage Facebook, and two is that it creates the potential for more dynamic, engaging dialogue.
Relying on Subscriptions rather than maintaining a separate Facebook Page cuts my effort in half. Right now I basically manage two separate Facebook profiles--one personal and one public. I have to switch back and forth to check notifications and wall posts. I have to flip from one to the other to read and respond to comments.
Segregating the personal and public profiles also limits the discussion. Posting something to the general public opens the dialogue to different perspectives and concepts that bring life to the conversation and expand the horizons for all who participate.
There are times when I have posted the same topic to both my personal Facebook social network, and my Facebook Page. Each discussion is valuable on its own, but merging the voices into one conversation makes a whole that is more valuable than the sum of its parts.
Facebook Pages still have tremendous value for some. But, I think they serve a better purpose for representing things that aren't an individual to begin with--a company, a band, a product. The Facebook Page provides metrics and analytics that aren't available on personal profiles.
For me, the Facebook Page has served me well, but now that Subscriptions are here it has outlived its usefulness. If you "Like" my Facebook Page, please stop. Well, don't just stop. Please Subscribe to my personal profile instead, then feel free to "Unlike" the Facebook Page. I will be posting duplicate content to both for a while, but soon the Facebook Page will fade away.