Influencers, or content creators, are a substantial driver of engagement for social media platforms. These companies currently make the bulk of their revenue from advertising, but many of them have been looking at monthly subscription models for influencer content as a possible additional revenue stream.
However, given the concept of paying for additional social media content is still relatively new, consumers aren’t particularly interested in paying social media companies a monthly subscription for exclusive influencer content, according to a new survey Variety Intelligence Platform conducted with YouGov.
According to YouGov’s recent survey of 1,200 U.S. adults, more than 77% of respondents said they were unlikely to pay a subscription fee for exclusive influencer content. Meanwhile, 14% said they likely would pay and 9% stated they didn’t know.
Earlier this year, Twitter announced it might be gearing up to test out “Super Follows,” which would allow users to charge followers a monthly fee for additional exclusive content on their Twitter accounts. YouTube already does something similar with its channel membership, a monthly subscription that gives paying users access to additional content from the influencers they choose to support. In a recent interview with The Information, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said the company is currently exploring the option of subscriptions.
Among survey respondents, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram were the top three favorite platforms to follow influencer content, with Twitter, TikTok and Snapchat next.
Younger adults are more open to paying for social media subscriptions. Of those who would likely pay for a subscription, 23% were between the ages of 18 and 29, while 20% were 30 to 44 years old, 10% were 45 to 64 and 5% were over 65.
A steady flow of monthly subscription payments could mean valuable recurring revenue for social media companies. The VIP+/YouGov poll found more than 80% of those willing to pay would pay under $10 a month for a subscription for exclusive influencer content. Only 12% said they would pay $10 or more per month.
Competition in the social media space is stiff, and some companies are doing whatever they can to incentivize creators, which boosts overall engagement — even if that means paying them directly.
Companies like YouTube, TikTok and Snap already have “creator funds” and pay the content creators on their platforms based on the engagement they create.
Services such as Patreon have been successful at creating ways for influencers to receive direct payments, so it makes sense that the social platforms want to have their own direct payment tools and take a cut.
It’s also worth noting the launch of Twitter’s first-ever subscription service, Twitter Blue, earlier this month in Canada and Australia. The service is not for exclusive influencer content; however, the social media platform is offering additional features to enhance a user’s overall experience.
Whether or not subscription models will work for social media remains to be seen. But the bottom line for these companies is to maintain and further accelerate topline growth, much of which was given a big boost during the pandemic. In order to create additional shareholder value, it’s encouraging to see social companies aggressively exploring ways of broadening their business strategies to monetize their platforms.