Instagram is changing yet again, and this latest addition will make it possible for creators to lock live videos, stories and posts behind a paywall. While the monetization of Instagram could help big social media influencers and creators earn more, it means that there must loyal fans will have to pay to view all their content.
Currently if you follow someone, you get to see everything they post for free – stories, reels, photos or live videos. The hope is that by introducing Instagram subscriptions, the creators that employ the feature will be able to create deeper, more meaningful connections with their most dedicated followers while also creating another revenue stream for themselves.
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Initially, just a small handful of US creators will trial the new subscription-based service and they include the likes of @bunnymichael (opens in new tab) (212K followers), @sedona._ (opens in new tab) (259K followers), @kelseylynncook (opens in new tab) (199K followers) and @jackjerry (opens in new tab) (128K followers). Creators are able to set their own monthly subscription fee, which will give users exclusive access to content, as well as mark each subscriber with a badge so they are easily visible in the comments section.
Subscriptions could cost as little as $0.89 (approximately £0.74 / AU$1.30) per month, which is what @bunnymichael has started to charge, or considerably higher at $4.49 (£3.74 / AU$6.56) which is Jack Kerry's fee.
"Having subscriptions on Instagram makes building a more intimate relationship with my followers and fans possible," said Bunny Michael, who is an artist and healer helping people to discover their higher selves. "I am so excited to nurture those connections and make a lasting impact that will help keep my work sustainable."
While it might seem counterintuitive to start monetizing Instagram, a platform that is currently completely free to use, it does mean that fans and followers won’t have to go to sites such as Patreon to unlock exclusive content. Instead, people will be able to access the type of content posted on subscription sites on a platform that they already use and interact with regularly.
While I recognize some of the benefits (mostly for the influencer), personally I think this is another step in the wrong direction for Instagram. It seems that once again it's making it even easier for people with a big following to make money and even harder for those still growing or just getting started.
When Instagram does an update that helps the small fish, perhaps I'll write positively about it. But while they only seem to care about the people already making thousands of dollars, I've just got more and more reasons to dislike the platform.