Can social media make you pay?
The Future. The combination of Apple’s 2021 data privacy changes and the recent economic contraction has reduced digital ad spending and hurt social media platforms. Many of them are trying to make up for the loss by introducing paid monthly subscription programs and degrading the free versions of their sites. But with interest in traditional social media falling, paid tiers might just make social media more enemies.
Pay to play
Snap, Meta, and Twitter are all rolling out monthly premium options with advantages over their free versions.
- Meta Verified for Instagram and Facebook will cost $11.99 online or $14.99 through mobile app stores. Users get increased visibility, customer support, and a verified badge that disappears if they unsubscribe. Badges for Instagram and Facebook must be purchased separately.
- Twitter Blue will cost $8 on the web and $11 on mobile. Premium users get the blue check mark, more visibility, early access to new features, SMS verification, the ability to retract or briefly edit published tweets, and a 4,000-character limit instead of the non-subscriber’s 280.
- Snapchat+ ($3.99) will offer various customization features, like personalized wallpaper and notification sounds for friends, and the ability for users to see how many people have rewatched their stories.
Meta Verified doesn’t remove or reduce ads on either Instagram or Facebook, but Twitter Blue users will get 50% fewer ads.
Better than worse
Some of these features sound like genuine perks, but they also worsen the free versions of the apps by nixing unpaid verification, hurting unpaid users’ visibility, and more. (Not to mention that Twitter’s blue check mark is arguably less credible, as it no longer requires an ID check.)
So far, Twitter’s premium tier hasn’t been very successful — of its current 230 million users, outside analysts estimate that only 300,000 pay for Twitter Blue. It’s possible that these platforms could turn things around in the future, but when Meta Verified costs more than a Netflix subscription, why not keep using it for free?