Instagram gives creators more ways to make money with today's launch of Instagram subscriptions. The feature, which was seen in the App Store back in November, is now officially in early testing with a small group of US creators who will be able to offer their followers paid access to exclusive Instagram Live videos and stories. Subscribers will also receive a special badge that will help them stand out in the comments section and creators' inboxes.
At launch, only 10 U.S. creators in total have gained access to the new feature, as Instagram considers this an "alpha" test designed to allow for feedback from both fans and creators, which it will then repeat.
Currently, the list of alpha creators includes actor and influencer @alanchikinchow; basketball player @ sedona._; astrolog @alizakelly; dancer / actress / model @kelseylynncook; digital creator @elliottnorris; Olympic silver medalist @jordanchiles; gymnast and creator @jackjerry; spiritual coach and artist @bunnymichael; XR creator @donalleniii; and digital creator @lonnieiiv.
Through the subscription product, creators can choose their own price point for access to their exclusive content. There are eight different price points to choose from, starting at $ 0.99 per. per month for as much as $ 99.99 per month. month, depending on how much a creator thinks their content is worth. Most creators are likely to start towards the bottom of this range, at price points like $ 0.99, $ 1.99, $ 2.99, $ 4.99 or maybe even $ 9.99 per. month before experimenting with higher prices like $ 19.99, $ 49.99 or $ 99.99 per month.
Once they have subscribed, users will be able to access previous content that is only for subscribers, such as stories saved as highlights. They will be warned about exclusive broadcasts where they will be able to engage deeper with the creators as the viewer audience will naturally be smaller. In stories that are for subscribers only, indicated by a purple ring, creators can share things like behind-the-scenes content, special polls, and more. Subscriber badges, also purple, will help fans stand out in the comments to public content and will help them be identified in creators' folders with message requests in their inbox.
Though there had been reports that Instagram developed technology that would prevent creators' exclusive content from becoming screenshots, Instagram told us that no such technology is available in this initial testing phase. However, redistribution of content is a violation of its terms, and creators are encouraged to report anyone who takes screenshots or records their content.
There is also no dedicated section for subscriptions in the creators' analysis dashboards during the early tests. But creators will be able to access their total estimated earnings from subscriptions, total subscribers, new subscriptions, and cancellations from their subscription settings. They are not capable of exporting subscriber lists or any kind of data, but Instagram says it hopes to build tools that will allow creators to connect with subscribers "off-platform" in the future.
For fans, signing up for a subscription to their favorite creators' content via traditional in-app purchases across iOS and Android. And for now, Instagram is not taking a cut in creators' revenue.
"We're the same as the whole Meta - we'll not take any revolutions until at least 2023," noted Instagram Co-Head of Product Ashley Yuki. "Our main goal here is to help creators earn a living ... We try to think of all the ways we can build revenue-generating products where possible."
Of course, Instagram is not just trying to help creators earn a living. It is also trying to strengthen its platform against the threat of competition, namely from TikTok, which has attracted an increasing number of creators who want to reach a younger generation Z entourage. It has also seen other major tech rivals, such as YouTube and Snapchat, try to appeal to TikTok users with similar short-form video products as Instagram's TikTok clone called Reels. Meanwhile, even Twitter has launched its own creative initiative with its Super Follow platform, and several startups are working on services that allow creators to consolidate, track and monetize their followers in new ways.
The activity in this space is a reflection of the size of the market. The creation economy is estimated to be just over $ 100 billion and growing. Although Instagram (and Facebook) are postponing the collection of their cut of creator transactions for a year, Meta sees it as a small investment in securing a larger portion of that cake in the future.
Despite the competitive landscape, Instagram believes its strength will come from the fact that it is does not a new product.
"One of the biggest differences here for creators and for fans is just the convenience of actually already knowing how to use all of these things. You're already on Instagram. And we hear a lot. [about] the friction of having to 'click out'. It may seem like a small thing. But in those moments, it can be the difference whether someone skips your subscription or not, ”Yuki explained. "The convenience of just having it all, where the conversation and connection already takes place, we think will be one of the strongest sides of this for both creators and for fans," she said.
Instagram subscriptions are just one way Meta has worked to help creators make money. Last year, Facebook renamed Facebook Fan subscriptions to "Subscriptions" only and allowed creators to download their subscribers' emails. Facebook creators can also use personal links to promote their subscriptions. And across Facebook and Instagram, creators can participate in Meta's $ 1 billion bonus program.
Over time, it seems that Facebook and Instagram subscriptions may merge. If that happened, fans would also be able to sign up on Facebook or Instagram - including via the websites where no App Store commission was to be paid. And these subscriptions can be transferred to the respective mobile apps. Yuki did not reject the idea when asked.
"In this alpha, it is not implemented yet. But it is something we could definitely consider for the future," she said.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg also announced the launch on his Facebook profile today, noting that subscriptions would "help creators earn more by offering benefits to their most committed followers such as access to exclusive lives and stories."
"I'm excited to keep building tools for creators so they can make a living from doing creative work and soon put those tools in the hands of more creators," he wrote.