Instagram subscriptions rolled out earlier this year, allowing select users in the US (for now) to charge a fee of their choosing for access to special, locked content. What kind of content? That’s up for each user to decide.
The current subscription model is incredibly open-ended – however, it is also limited to an invite-only basis, which means that Instagram is collecting data on how well it works from a selective group of accounts and users. So far, the criteria seem to center around content creators and influencers who uphold Instagram’s existing guidelines for content creation, partnership, and monetization.
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How Instagram Subscriptions Work
The subscriptions work like any other monthly subscription model, with the exception that free content will remain free for followers. For people who aren’t interested in paying a monthly fee to subscribe, the Instagram account in question will remain the same as ever.
But for users who do pay the fee in question, the reward is access to exclusive subscriber-only content, marked by a purple ring. This includes exclusive daily stories, exclusive lives (meaning, Instagram livestreams), and special subscriber badges.
Instagram accounts invited to start utilizing the new subscriber feature will be asked to apply with their full legal name and address, tax information, and banking or payment info. In addition to being able to choose what content to lock to limited subscribers, Instagram accounts can also manage their subscriptions and review their metrics on a professional behind-the-scenes dashboard, offering extensive insights and performance metrics.
The monthly fee is set by the account user. Payouts are made every 100 USD, or every 30 USD for existing Instagram affiliate creators. More information about how Instagram calculates and sends out creator payouts can be found on their official help center.
Instagram has made many recent changes to support creators on the platform, and subscribers is another example of that.
- Kaylee Sachs, Social Media Manager
Building Exclusive Content
Instagram subscriptions don’t seem to be promoted anywhere other than the user’s account itself, so it’s up to your ability to market your content and services as a brand on Instagram to entice users to consider a subscription.
Some user models are going to have an easier time profiting from this than others. For example, the subscription model is a great way to lock exclusive content, such as financial advice, astrology, or tarot readings, or even fitness content behind a paywall for interested customers.
As with all content in your digital content strategy, exclusive content will require research, creation, distribution, promotion, and measurement. If you need help figuring out exactly what type of content you can offer as an exclusive, consider consulting a social media development professional.
Are Subscriptions Available to All Accounts?
Currently, only a selected few Instagram users are being invited to test out the subscription feature. It also seems to be region-locked, as not all regions have access to subscriptions as a monetization option. The criteria for eligibility are based on Instagram’s existing partnership guidelines.
Subscriptions Are Not the Only Way to Earn
Subscriptions are the latest in Instagram’s series of new features designed to offer content creators, businesses, boutiques, and other users a plethora of monetization options on the platform. These other options include:
Instagram is huge, and it is profitable – yet a lot of that profit may be bypassing the app. While Instagram earns money through ads like most social networks, these monetization options are a way for the platform to earn money off transactions made on the app itself.
What This Might Mean for You
Currently, Instagram subscriptions are almost exclusively being marketed as a feature for influencers and content creators to further monetize their personal brand and continue to earn money on Instagram without relying entirely on brand sponsorships or affiliations.
It’s also a way for Instagram to get in on the business model of paid Instagram exposure by circumventing platforms like Patreon, and disincentivizing a content model that exclusively banks off product placement to finance itself.
If you are a marketer or are interested in marketing for your business, the current subscription model is not one your business account would likely make the most out of.
You want to get your content out there to as many people as possible to convert them into potential leads and sales, rather than gating your marketing behind a monthly fee. Subscriptions make the most sense for avid Instagram salespeople and influencers who want a way to profit off the content they create on a regular basis.
Subscriptions are also interesting to people who offer certain services over Instagram. For example, fitness coaches, astrologers, and dietitians can sell their advice and exclusive subscriber content via Instagram by charging a monthly fee. This turns Instagram into not just a social media platform, but a marketplace for certain services.
Of course, whether or not you can make use of Instagram’s growing subscription feature is not necessarily up to you. Instagram is still rolling out invites on a regular basis, but there isn’t much you can do to avail one outside of respecting the platform’s Partner Monetization Policies and other Instagram guidelines. A few other factors include region – subscriptions started rolling out in January, and as of August 2022, they are still not available globally.
That being said, as we’ve mentioned, subscriptions are not the only way to monetize your content or your products on Instagram, and they aren’t the only reason to use the platform.
Instagram is still a great tool for promoting your products and services and turning potential visitors into leads and sales. In addition to a robust ad network, Instagram still has an active user base of about 1 billion people, and over 500 million daily active users. It’s still one of the most popular social networks on the website, and one of the most downloaded apps on iOS and Android devices.
Instagram has seen a lot of changes recently, especially with the shake-ups TikTok introduced in the market of short clip and video content. It recently announced that it would be taking a step back to re-evaluate its goals and platform features after a huge backlash spearheaded by the Kardashians, following a controversial change in the way the app recommended content to users.
It’s a good idea to keep an eye on how the platform intends to address these recent criticisms and improve in the wake of massive user complaints – and how those near-future changes might affect your content and marketing plans for Instagram.
Need to update your Instagram strategy for 2022? Give us a call. We can help you modernize your content and figure out the best way to leverage Instagram for your business.