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Instagram introduces Subscriptions option

Instagram has added a subscriptions option to its App Store listing in the US, bolstering speculation that it is to introduce direct monetisation for creators.

Instagram introduces Subscriptions option
Photograph: Alexander Shatov on Unsplash.

Speculation has been brewing since May, when head of Instagram Adam Mosseri, in an interview spoke of the “different ways to facilitate a financial relationship between a fan and a creator.” He said, “Being able to subscribe to some differentiated or unique or exclusive content actually feels more additive as a fan than seeing an ad.”

App Store observer Sensor Tower has confirmed that the first “Instagram Subscriptions” in-app purchase was included in the US App Store listings on 1st November at $4.99.

Prior to this, the only available in-app Instagram purchases were for “Instagram Badges”, which are virtual items that followers can purchase to support their favourite creators during their livestreams.

Alessandro Paluzzi, who describes himself as a leaker, mobile developer, and reverse engineer, tweeted in June the news that “Instagram is working on stories for fan clubs, exclusive stories visible only to fan club members.” He had discovered the work in progress and followed this news with a tweet in August that Instagram had added a section in its settings page where users can manage all their subscriptions.

Instagram has not yet revealed its full plans for subscriptions, but at the company’s Creator Week this June spoke in general terms about the company’s monetization strategy referencing three types of creator monetization tools for the platform. One was commerce, which includes branded content, merchandise, and affiliate marketing. Another was ad revenue share. And a third was payment products, such as “gated content or subscriptions.”

“I love those because those give creators a direct relationship with their fans — which I think is probably more sustainable and more predictable over the long run,” Mosseri said, referring to the company’s plans for payment products.

Instagram are following a trend of enhancing social media platforms as money-making platforms for creators.

For instance, in September Twitter introduced a similar program called ‘Super Followers’, which allowed users to monetise their tweets by enticing followers to pay a monthly subscription fee in exchange for access to exclusive content. However, the program is currently only available to US-based users who have a following of at least 10,000 followers and who tweet at least 25 tweets per month.

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