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How the 'subscribe' feature changes Facebook

For well-known people like TV talent, Facebook has always been a bit duplicative. You have your personal profile (up to 5,000 friends) and your public page (for everyone else.) But today Facebook rolled out a subscription feature that aims to bring the two together.

Tearing a page from Twitter, you can now subscribe to people’s profiles. You can keep friends as friends, and everyone else can subscribe to your posts — Facebook allows you to subscribe to all updates, most updates or only the most important ones. This evening, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg already has 689,000 subscribers. The feature isn’t on by default; you have to activate subscriptions on your account.

For journalists and other media talent, the addition is a welcome one. There’s been an awkward balancing act between personal profiles and pages. Facebook has admitted the confusion — first encouraging media types to create pages, then explaining that a new feature is coming that will bring the two together.

Now that you can control where you publish your updates — friends or public, much like Google Plus — pages may no longer be necessary. Facebook has updated its profiles vs. pages FAQ, which explains why you should choose one over the other. In a nutshell, pages are best when 1) multiple people manage the page and 2) you want to be able to take advantage of Facebook ads. Mostly, brands and businesses.

For TV folks, people are best suited for profiles with subscriptions. Shows should stick with pages. However, it will be interesting to see if people “subscribe” as much as they “like.”

So what if you have a page and want to migrate your fans to subscribers? “We’ll have a public facing tool next week,” explains Facebook’s Vadim Lavrusik. “Migration doesn’t migrate content from Page and deletes the Page after migration is complete.” There’s also an FAQ here for journalists (.pdf).

Earlier this week, Facebook also rolled out a better way to manage your friends.

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