This is how every social media company adopts subscriptions

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Social media companies have long relied on their service to be “free” to use. All of these companies counted on showing ads and receiving some user data in return so that they could use social networks for free. Now with declining revenues and tough global economic conditions, social networks are somehow resorting to offering subscriptions. These paid plans can unlock features ranging from vanity ticks to exclusive stickers to extend reach and more.

Twitter blue

Twitter Blue logo on crumpled paper

Image Credits: AapkaDost

Twitter first introduced its paid subscription in June 2021 in Canada and Australia and later expanded it to the US and New Zealand. After Elon Musk took over the company, he increased the price of the plan to $7.99 per month and relaunched the plan with features like a blue verification mark and priority in replies.

The social network’s first relaunch attempt in November was short-lived as many profiles pretended to be brands and athletes. After building in precautions to prevent that – although those measures have sometimes failed – Twitter finally launched the new version of Blue in December. Despite this, the subscription service is not doing well. According to a report by The Information, there are about 180,000 paid accounts in the US and 290,000 paid accounts worldwide.

  • Price: $8 per month (web); $11 per month (iOS, Android)
  • Functions: Blue quality mark; edit tweet functionality; NFT profile pictures; priority ranking in calls; bookmark folders; 60 minute video uploads; ability to write tweets of 4,000 characters; fewer ads; and custom app icons and themes. You can view the full feature set here.
  • Availability: 15 countries

Meta verified

distorted Meta logo with other brand logos, Meta Verified (Facebook, Instagram, Meta Quest, WhatsApp)

Image Credits: AapkaDost

Following Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg also announced a premium program for Facebook and Instagram this week. Initially, the plan, dubbed “Meta Verified”, will be available to users in Australia and New Zealand with plans to expand in the coming months. Like Twitter Blue, this new plan gets users a blue check mark, but the company doesn’t remove obsolete verifications from notable profiles.

  • Price: $11.99 per month (web); $14.99 per month (iOS, Android)
  • Functions: A blue verification badge; additional protection against impersonation, such as proactive account monitoring; access to customer support; increased visibility in comments and recommendations; and exclusive stickers
  • Availability: Australia and New Zealand



Image Credits: snap

Snapchat launched Snapchat+ in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates last June. In the time since its launch, the service has gained more features and expanded to more countries. Last month, Snap said it now has more than 2 million paying subscribers.

  • Price: $3.99 per month
  • Functions: Ability to pin someone as their number 1 friend; prioritized responses to Snap Star, the company’s program for popular creators; the ability to “see the general direction of travel for where friends have recently moved” if they have location sharing enabled; custom app icons, wallpapers and notification sounds; look again at the number of stories; and story expiration controls. You can check out the full feature set here.
  • Availability: More than 20 countries

Reddit bounty

Reddit bounty

Image Credits: Reddit

Reddit has had a premium membership program in one form or another for years. The company renamed its Gold membership to Premium in 2018. The $5.99 per month plan gives you perks like ad-free browsing, custom avatars, and Reddit coins to give awards to posters.

  • Price: $5.99 per month
  • Functions: Ad-free browsing; custom avatars and app icons; 700 Reddit Coins per month; exclusive awards to hand out to posters. You can check out the full feature set here.
  • Availability: Worldwide

Tumblr without ads

Getty Images 1158411075

Image Credits: MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images

This subscription is as easy as it sounds. Tumblr launched its ad-free browsing plan last year for $4.99 per month — or at a discounted price of $39.99 per year. After Musk took over Twitter, it also launched a parody service that lets you have two blue ticks for $7.99. Last month it even extended this to rainbow finches. These checkmarks don’t actually do anything, but it’s a way to show support for the service.

  • Price: $4.99 per month
  • Functions: Browse without ads
  • Availability: Worldwide
Money flying out of man's hand

Image Credits: Jeffrey Coolidge (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

In general, these plans offer a mix of identity markers, increased reach, fewer ads, and some visual bells and whistles. Most content services and apps (including games) offer an ad-free tier at an additional price, so that makes sense. Asking users to pay for extended reach is a curious move, given that these companies have been singing the song of equal distribution for creator content for the longest time. Over the past few years, several social networks have scaled back or adjusted payouts from creator programs. Instead of investing more in highlighting creators, they are now asking users to pay to increase their chances of getting noticed.

Following the rollout of App Tracking Transparency features by Apple in 2021, social networks have had a huge negative impact on ad revenue. In addition, bets like metaverse have failed to take off in challenging economic conditions. So more social media companies are thinking about other revenue streams, such as subscriptions. Although these services have a huge user base, they have not made any significant progress. Snapchat+ has over 2 million subscribers, Twitter Blue reportedly has nearly 300,000 users, data suggests Reddit Premium users are under 400,000, and Meta is just getting started.

Data from analytics firm Sensor Tower suggests people have spent more than $7 million on in-app purchases since Twitter Blue’s relaunch. On Snapchat, the in-app purchase amount is $64 million since the launch of Snapchat+.

While the amount of revenue from these subscriptions pales in comparison to ad revenue totals, premium subscriptions bode well for Twitter and Snapchat in increasing user loyalty (and engagement) while creating an alternative revenue stream beyond the particular competitive advertising market.” Abe Yousef, senior insights analyst at Sensor Tower.

Content streaming sites like YouTube and Spotify have offered features and an ad-free experience and the ability to consume online content as part of their premium package. And they managed to get millions of paid users. The challenge for social networks would be to come up with features that users feel are worth paying for. Until then, subscription revenue would be just a footnote on the balance sheet.

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