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Instagram Subscriptions: How Exclusivity on Instagram Could Reshape Influencer Marketing

Since being founded in 2010, Instagram has been a free to use social media platform, soaring in popularity, now with over 2 billion active users worldwide. Though Instagram has been undeniably popular over its 12 year lifespan, it is now evident that it has clear competitors within its field – and it needs to keep up with its competitors to win over Gen Z audiences and encourage them to stay loyal to Instagram. The platform has been expanding and developing its features to remain appealing to existing audiences and engage new ones, whilst staying up to date with trends, which is why it has introduced its newest feature, Instagram Subscriptions, currently only available in the US.

Exclusive content will only be available to paying subscribers, such as stories, posts, and videos. Purple subscriber badges will allow fans to differentiate themselves from public users and demonstrate their loyalty to the creators, standing out in Direct Messages. The monthly subscription prices range from anywhere between $0.99 to $99.99, as the date for international rollout remains unconfirmed.

Instagram’s competition ranges from established platforms such as TikTok and YouTube, to newly emerging platforms such as BeReal, all of which are also continuously evolving to cater to their trend-focused audiences. It is unquestionable that TikTok’s popularity has led to it becoming Instagram’s biggest rival and has driven the frequent developments Instagram has included in its roadmap in order to stay relevant.

As well as Subscriptions, Instagram has recently introduced multiple developments and expansions to win over the engagement of Gen Z. For example, earlier in the year the algorithm was adapted to ensure that content originating from Instagram was favored over content that was shared from TikTok.

Instagram’s developments such as Subscriptions that provide monetization opportunities, ensures that creators are encouraged to create dedicated Instagram content. It offers increased revenue streams for creators, whilst providing audiences with opportunities to view exclusive and additional content from creators.

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What now for brands and influencers with Instagram Subscriptions?

Influencers are vital to the social media ecosystem and the platforms recognize the greater need to incentivize them to stay, creating content. This has led to better opportunities being provided, and Instagram Subscriptions allows creators to have another revenue stream, beyond paid partnerships and advertisements.

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However, as Instagram Subscriptions are still in the early stages of development, it is yet to be known how many influencers will make use of the opportunity.

The platform is confident in its decision to go ahead with this development. CEO Adam Mosseri is eager to make Instagram the ‘best place’ for creators to make money, subsequently becoming their first port of call when creating content. Announcing Instagram Subscriptions in a Reel, Mosseri stated that Subscriptions are “a great way to establish some sustainable and predictable income”.

For brands, it may lead to creators being more selective in terms of who they work with on brand partnerships, as revenue does not need to be entirely dependent on advertising.

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What does the future hold?

Instagram can be seen to be following in the footsteps of the likes of OnlyFans or Patreon by putting restricted content behind a paywall. However, as Instagram has been wholly free to use for its 12-year duration, some users may be left feeling unhappy at the introduction of paid features. It remains to be seen whether this paid feature on Instagram will follow the success of OnlyFans at such a large scale.

Subscriber only, exclusive content sounds attractive to audiences who are big fans of specific creators. Of course, this means the concept has a lot of potential, but is dependent on the creator uptake of the feature and the quality of the Subscriptions content which needs to be valuable enough to justify spend to paying viewers.

[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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