Instagram is testing paid subscriptions: what does it mean for creators?

Currently available to select users in the US, the company says it will expand the feature to more creators over the next few months

Instagram is introducing a Subscriptions feature, initially available to select creators. Photo: Instagram
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Meta, the parent company of Instagram, has announced it is trialling Subscriptions, a feature that allows users to offer paid followers access to exclusive content. Already available on Facebook, select Instagram creators in the US were chosen to use the feature, but the company says it has plans to expand access to more users "over the next few months".

"With Instagram Subscriptions, creators can develop deeper connections with their most engaged followers and grow their recurring monthly income by giving subscribers access to exclusive content and benefits, all within the same platform where they interact with them already," Instagram said in a blog post on Wednesday.

The feature includes Subscriber Lives, which allows creators to broadcast exclusive Lives to their subscribers; Subscriber Stories, where creators can create stories only for their subscribers; and Subscriber Badges, which lets creators see a subscriber badge next to comments and messages so they can easily identify their subscribers.

"Having subscriptions on Instagram makes building a more intimate relationship with my followers and fans possible. I am so excited to nurture those connections and make a lasting impact that will help keep my work sustainable,” said user @bunnymichael, known for her spiritual posts, with more than 200,000 followers.

Creators can set a variety of monthly prices, ranging from 99 cents to $99 for Subscriptions. Meta said it does not plan to collect fees from creators for the feature, on Facebook or Instagram, "until 2023 at the earliest". The company has also not shared what revenue percentage it would then take, although chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a post last year that "it will be less than the 30 per cent that Apple and others take".

“Subscriptions are one of the best ways to have a predictable income, a way that is not attached to how much reach you get on any given post, which is inevitably going to go up and down over time," Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, said in a video post.

Mosseri also said that creators will have complete control over their subscriber list, and even teased the possibility of allowing creators to be able to make use of that list outside of Instagram.

Last year, Twitter launched Super Follows, which allows creators to accept subscription payments through the platform in return for exclusive content. Another feature, Ticketed Spaces, also allows charging for admission into Spaces, the platform's audio chat room.

Updated: January 20, 2022, 5:33 AM