A Fine Line Between “Stalker” and “Subscriber”

Respect members' privacy as you integrate Facebook's new subscriber feature into your social media strategy.


It’s a feature Mashable calls a “Stalker Button.”  But Facebook’s new follower tool is actually named the “subscribe” button and works sort of like Twitter with its stream of updates. Facebook started rolling out the “subscribe” feature last week to maintain their competitive edge in the social media platform marketplace.

Now, credit unions are probably wondering how to use this new Facebook tool in their social media campaigns. Businesses can leverage it in many ways but they need to understand the capabilities of the feature and how to best use them to strengthen customers relationships.

What Is The “Subscribe” Button?

The subscribe function will be found under the profile picture on anyone’s profile who has opted-in to the feature. If you choose to subscribe to a user’s Facebook page, you have the ability to decide which information you want to see like all updates, only important, just status updates, etc.  It’s a lot like being a Twitter follower because by becoming a Facebook subscriber to someone’s profile, you have access to the public information that they post or publish.

Facebook has generally been based on symmetrical relationships, with this new subscriber feature, Facebook has begun to embrace asymmetrical relationships.  In the past, Facebook has only allowed you, as an individual user, to see updates of the people that you have mutually agreed to be “friends.” But now, like Twitter and Google+, you can follow or “subscribe” to users that are not following you back, so long as their information is public.

What Does This Mean For Credit Unions?

Credit union members have had the ability to be "subscribed" to their credit union’s page, to watch their credit union’s activities for a long time on Facebook by "liking" the page and becoming a Facebook fan. However, a credit union has not similarly been able to watch their members’ activities.

With the subscribe feature, a credit union can subscribe to its members’ feeds, provided that the member has opted-in to the subscribe feature. Credit unions do need to be careful not to abuse the tool and start “stalking” their customers, for instance, by contacting their customers directly regarding a status update or a photo that the customer published. But this subscribe capability will enable credit unions to practice another form of social media listening.

For example, maybe you’ll be able to see if there’s a common theme with your customers asking their Facebook friends for loan advice. Then you can write or share an article from another source on your own Facebook page about the top five ways to get the best loan or the top 10 questions to ask when seeking a loan. This would be regarded as responsible subscribing, whereas responding directly to a customer seeking loan advice with your best loan deal and an application is bordering on stalking.

Credit unions that use the subscribe feature appropriately could gain a wealth of knowledge about their customers, but they must practice respect for member privacy.


Sept. 20, 2011



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