Facebook Says Subscribe Button Has Been Good For Media, But One Journalist Has Doubts

facebook-journalistsEarlier this week, Facebook touted some data showing how the media has reaped benefits from the Subscribe button — but at least one journalist isn’t so sure that the numbers mean much.

The Subscribe button launched in September and added Twitter-like functionality to Facebook; users could subscribe to anyone else’s public posts, whether they were Facebook friends or not.

Facebook’s Vadim Lavrusik, who manages the company’s journalist program, wrote that thousands of journalists are using the Subscribe button, and that the average journalist has seen a 320 percent increase in subscribers since November. (That stat is based on a sampler of 25 journalists, not the full group of thousands.)

Lavrusik also shared stats about the content that’s working best for journalists, including things like:

  • Posts with photos get 50 percent more Likes than posts without photos.
  • Commentary and analysis on current news leads to greater interaction: three times as many Likes and twice as many Shares.
  • Posts with calls-to-action and other promotional language get 37 percent more engagement than an average post.

Despite the positive numbers, one participant isn’t so thrilled.

Media analyst Jim Romanesko, who has more than 15,000 subscribers on Facebook, suggested that most were spam accounts from outside the US — not the type of Facebook users who would be interested in analysis of American journalism. Romanesko followed that up with an experiment in which he asked his non-US subscribers to leave a comment explaining why they follow him.

Only 20 subscribers responded, prompting Romanesko to declare: “These Facebook Subscribe numbers that are being thrown around are bogus.”

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Facebook: Buttons & Plugins | Facebook: Open Graph | Facebook: Statistics

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Marketing Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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