As Instagram tests its subscription-based model across the world, influencers and marketing agencies share what the new update means for the ecosystem
Meta-owned social media app Instagram is expected to launch subscriptions on its platform soonUnsplash
Are Indian consumers ready to shell out money for Instagram subscriptions?

As Instagram tests its subscription-based model across the world, influencers and marketing agencies share what the new update means for the ecosystem

Are Indian consumers ready to shell out money for Instagram subscriptions?
  • After Twitter’s Super Follow, Meta-owned social media app Instagram is expected to launch subscriptions on its platform soon.
  • This subscription-based model will allow users to access exclusive stories, live videos of their favourite content creators for ₹89 per month in India.
  • We speak to content creators and influencer marketing agencies to understand what this means for the ecosystem.
After the huge success of OnlyFans and Twitter’s Super Follow feature globally, Meta-owned Instagram is now testing monthly subscriptions priced at ₹89 per month in India. This feature will allow creators to earn money for their exclusive stories and live videos and users to support their favourite creators. Instagram has already rolled out the update for iOS users. Priced between $0.99 and $4.99 in the US and ₹89 in India, the ‘Instagram Subscriptions’ feature is available under the “In-App Purchases” section.

So far, Instagram influencers were earning money from sponsored content, affiliate links, selling products or merchandise, getting tips and now there’s an additional option for them to explore.

According to Instagram’s Reverse Engineer, Alessandro Paluzzi, the platform has been in the works for months now. Media reports suggest that Instagram is also testing a subscribe button that will appear on a creator’s profile. A special member badge will appear next to their username whenever they DM (direct message) the creator or comment on their posts. Once live, this new feature will not only provide the creator an opportunity to earn an extra buck but also allow them to prioritise certified fans. With this new feature, Instagram can target its power users such as news organisations, verified creators, brands and marketing agencies. It’s still in the early stages, but it looks like it is definitely coming.

In the recent past, social media platforms like Twitter, Medium, OnlyFans have embraced the tactics of the old legacy media companies by launching subscription-based models.

But will a subscription-based model work in a price-sensitive market like India, will users pony up for exclusive content and what will this mean for creators and the platform? Here’s what experts had to say.

Ranveer Allahbadia, Digital Content Creator, Entrepreneur, Podcaster and Investor:
I am personally not very bullish on subscription or memberships being offered for a specific fee on public platform's like Instagram or YouTube. This is because there is a lot more onus that comes on to the creator to deliver extra value than they already are, when they provide content for free. Many creator's are not up for that or don’t have the bandwidth to provide it, hence, may not end up using the subscription form of medium at all. I personally don't feel like I will be using this medium of charging my community at all.
This is similar to the membership feature provided by YouTube and many creators have successfully used this. Where a lot of their followers, subscribers have ended up paying a monthly fee in order to get access to exclusive content or merchandise from their favourite creator. So it totally depends on the creator to create a basis.

Arushi Gupta, Head- Influencer.in:
The subscription feature is a great tool with respect to monetizing the platform - influencers have so far been making money off of instagram via brand collaborations and instagram shop feature. Overall it fits in with Meta's vision of creating ecosystems and communities where creators can monetize through multiple methods. This new feature is in the same direction and will motivate influencers to keep their content engaging. It would be interesting to see how Indian Social Media users react to this as most users would prefer consuming content for free, so it will take quite some time for the audience to warm up to this concept. There are some third party apps and websites offering subscription solutions to creators but they are all at a small scale. The super chat feature on YouTube is on the similar lines, and the key to having your exclusive audience is solely based on how engaging the content is. Keeping this in mind, The Indian market is also subjected to a lot of pirated/copied content, so users will prefer to share the subscription or get the said exclusive content through other means that do not involve money i.e via recording the story content and sharing it on other platforms.

Sagar Pushp, Co-founder and CEO, ClanConnect:
Premium or paid content is a popular revenue generation method for creators in developed markets like the US and the UK. Platforms like Patreon, Twitter, and even youtube have used this model, and Instagram is now jumping on the bandwagon. This shows that social media platforms are beginning to understand the content creator economy and are building new revenue streams to ensure influencer earnings are not limited to advertisement revenues. This, in turn, will give creators the push to create more high-quality content.

Since Instagram has not rolled out specific deliverables and pricing details for the Indian market yet, we will refrain from commenting or predicting its projected impact. Currently, it is only available on IoS platforms, and we are yet to see how this model will be shaped for Indian users, a majority of which use Android phones. Holistically speaking, however, the subscription model holds a lot of potential for India. It has worked in international markets and has a future here as well.

Apaksh Gupta, CEO and Founder, One Impression:
This is an interesting move by Instagram which will further boost the creator economy. We have already seen the willingness of the Indian consumer to subscribe to OTT platforms and premium services of apps like Spotify and YouTube. This move by Instagram will further bring us closer to the future of premium content. It can be compared to and is quite similar to the OTT subscription model. Considering India is a price-sensitive market, it will be upon the creators to justify the cost for accessing the premium content, focusing on quality and exclusivity. Moreover, we have witnessed the Indian consumers supporting content creators monetarily through platforms like Twitch, Patreon, or via YouTube "super-chat". Primarily this was limited to the gaming enthusiasts, but recently vloggers and other creators are also getting their fair due of monetary recognition. Henceforth, this move by Instagram could bring about a change that will alter the creator space, as well as content consumption pattern, in India."

Neel Gogia, Co-Founder, IPLIX Media:

With the creator economy booming, more and more platforms are coming up with unique monetization models to attract creators. However, I think this model in particular will not be as useful for the large spectrum of creators as audiences might be skeptical of buying subscriptions for the content that they had once free access to. Especially, in a price-sensitive market like India, it is difficult to ascertain whether or not the audience will shell out the money for this.

But, definitely, creators with an extremely loyal audience will reap the benefits out of this as their audience would not like to miss out on updates shared by their favourite creators. In fact, in the past as well, we’ve witnessed audience pay for platforms like Spotify, YouTube, Patreon and even OTT platforms. Without a shadow of doubt, initiatives like this will aid the growing popularity of the influencer marketing industry as it’ll lure more talented people to choose this field and will push existing creators to make their content even more engaging.