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The Rise of Social Media Subscriptions Can Benefit Apps and Content Creators Altogether!

  • Sabrina Mullens - Marketing Intern
  • Jan 26, 2022
  • 5 minute read


First, it was Twitter. Now, it’s Instagram and TikTok that are testing the benefit of implementing the subscription model onto their platforms.

Both platforms combine for a total of more than 3 billion monthly users as of late last year, according to CNBC and TikTok. While each user has different preferences and specific goals when using each app, the data suggests that enabling creators to produce even more exclusive content could pay off.


Read on to learn more about how social media platforms are leveraging subscriptions to promote exclusive content while fostering deeper engagement with their followers.

Instagram Introduces Subscriptions

On Jan. 19, Instagram introduced Subscriptions, a feature that enables content creators to set a monthly customized price that subscribers will pay to access exclusive content. The platform announced three types of content available through this new feature:

  • Subscriber Lives: Content creators host exclusive lives for subscribers.
  • Subscriber Stories: Content creators produce exclusive stories for their subscribers, allowing them to use interactive story stickers.
  • Subscriber Badges: Subscribers receive a badge that appears next to their comments and messages, making them easily identifiable to the content creator.

“With Instagram Subscriptions,” the announcement reads, “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 is currently in the testing phase for Subscriptions. This feature is only available to 10 U.S. content creators, with plans to include more influencers within the coming months.

Content Creators Within Instagram and TikTok

Instagram introduced its creators account in late 2019 as an alternative to its traditional business account.

The creators account is tailored toward Instagram users who are looking to build communities, work with brands, and promote content to their targeted market. Any user can switch their basic account to a creator account, but certain restrictions are in place when introducing monetization. Having an established presence, residing in an eligible country, and promoting authentic engagement all play into how a content creator is allowed to monetize their content.

It is currently unknown what requirements a creator would need to have in order to implement Subscriptions on their account as Instagram is still testing the feature. The 10 content creators currently using Subscriptions have between 63,600 to 570,000 followers.

Narrowly trailing Instagram in usership, TikTok — and its 1 billion users — is allegedly also testing support for paid subscribers, but details on how the feature would be implemented are unclear. The platform’s algorithm that serves personalized content to a user’s ‘For You Page’ could be affected by a subscription feature, according to experts.

“Allowing content creators to have more control over their relationship with viewers is a huge opportunity for them. The challenge is going to be how they balance acquisition and retention strategies as they determine what is subscriber-only content versus how they engage new viewers,” says Jennifer Cline, Director of Marketing at SUBTA.

The Instagram Community Reacts

Instagram’s Subscriptions has generated mixed feedback from the Instagram community. Adam Mosseri, CEO of Instagram, announced the new feature on his account last week, which prompted thousands of comments from a wide range of users and content creators regarding their thoughts on this feature. 

Feedback from content creators, specifically those who are verified with sizable followings, showed acceptance and enthusiasm for the feature.

The general user population, on the other hand, does not seem as excited about this development.

One user also commented, “Nice idea but I don’t think people will buy paid subscriptions. People come for the free content. The vast majority of people are here for a free creative outlet.”

The Value of Introducing a Subscription to Your Community

Instagram is not the first social media network under Meta to introduce a subscription to their community. 

In 2020, Facebook introduced Subscriptions (formerly named Facebook Fan Subscriptions) to its audience. Like Instagram and TikTok, it allows its content creators to collect recurring income from Subscriptions. 

“We’ve seen tremendous interest from people wanting to support their favorite creators, so we’re making fan subscriptions and Stars available to more creators,” the statement reads.

That interest considerably grew in the last two years, according to Hootsuite, and social media platforms are now leveraging it to empower their creators. 

After all, those creators are the ones partially driving traffic to the platform. More than 60% of Instagram users view photos posted by an influencer, according to a survey commissioned by Facebook IQ. 

The subscription model is a win-win scenario for social media platforms and creators. It serves as an incentive to produce more content for some while attracting more users to the platform for others. 

As Mosseri explains in his video, “Creators do what they do to make a living, and it’s important that that is predictable. Subscriptions are one of the best ways to have a predictable income.”

Key Takeaways

  • Social media platforms are leveraging subscriptions to promote exclusive content and community engagement.
  • Instagram introduced Subscriptions, a feature enabling creators to set a monthly customized price subscribers pay in order to access exclusive content.
  • The platform received mixed feedback after its CEO Adam Mosseri announced the feature.
  • Content creators and social media platforms can benefit from the subscription model.

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