Is this little button going to turn your social media strategy upside down?
The 'subscribe' button will shortly begin appearing on Facebook profiles the world over, allowing users to view status updates, designated 'public', even if they are not Facebook 'friends' with that person.
How will this affect journalists? Potentially, it could be quite significant.
The 'subscribe' button is part of Facebook's efforts to include a wider range of features in order to compete with other social networks, primarily Twitter and Google+. The Subscribe button allows users to hear from public figures and others that they do no know personally. When someone subscribes to a profile, status updates marked 'public' from that profile will appear in the newsfeed of the subscriber.
Obviously, this quick, public sharing of information in a few hundred characters makes Facebook more similar to Twitter. Particularly as all Facebook status updates can now be shared directly to twitter.
Facebook have cleverly managed to kill two birds with one stone with their latest feature, however, as it also allows users more control over what they see in their newsfeeds. When subscribing to someone's profile it is possible to control how much of their Facebook activity you see.
You don't have to see everything someone does on Facebook, just because you are subscribed to their profile; you can choose to see just the 'important' updates, like a new job or a move. This avoids that nightmare situation where your newsfeed is swamped with endless updates from old school friends telling you all about what they had for lunch.
This new feature, combined with Facebook friend 'lists', gives you more control over whose activity you see and, in turn, who sees what you are up to. In many ways, this is very similar to the main selling point of Google + : it's 'circles' feature.
Yet don't expect the battle for social network supremacy to be swiftly concluded - Google+ has just announced the ability to share maps on its social network, another feature that Facebook is yet to acquire. The fact that Facebook has responded with this new 'subscribe' button, the lists feature and the deal with Skype to enable video chat via Facebook shows that Google + is posing a threat to the social network.
If the subscribe button catches on, it could mean that journalists start sharing more information publically via Facebook and the network's value as a journalistic tool, but the question remains: will it be enough to stave off the rise of Google+?