Recently, three of the major social media companies have decided to try out offering a paid, subscription version of their popular apps. Snapchat and Twitter debuted their paid options in 2022–Snapchat Plus and Twitter Blue–while Meta (Instagram and Facebook) launched their paid offering in February 2023. According to the companies, users will benefit from a subscription based option because of the enhanced verification and authentication of profiles, which will hopefully do a better job of weeding out disinformation and bots. For the apps, the main benefit of a paid option is the chance to add an additional revenue stream besides advertising.
With the majority of users being accustomed to the free version of Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram, getting them to pay might be difficult unless the subscription option adds something special that the free version doesn’t. Currently, Twitter Blue offers user verification, fewer ads, priority in replies and mentions, and the ability to post longer videos. The paid option for Meta focuses on user verification, protection against impersonation attacks, greater access to customer support, and increased visibility and reach. User verification, changing the app icon, and the ability to see who rewatched a story are included in the paid option for Snapchat users.
In terms of subscription pricing, Snapchat charges the lowest at $3.99, while Twitter charges $8.00, and Meta charges $11.99 for a web subscription and $14.99 for IOS or Android. Curious to find out if users would be willing to pay for added features on social media, the Harvard Business Review conducted a nationwide survey asking users questions about quality of features, pricing, ideal social media services, and likelihood of subscription.
Through their survey, Hult and Morgeson found that social media users under the age of 35, those that are college-educated, and politically conservative users have higher expectations of the apps; recognize the potential for higher quality, value, and satisfaction from a paid option; and overall are more likely to pay for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
Furthermore, the researchers found that Instagram has the highest expectations and recognition of the quality and user satisfaction from their subscription option. Twitter and Snapchat are tied in terms of the perceived value their subscription option offers.
Finally, Snapchat has the greatest potential of users willing to pay for their additional Plus service. This may be because they charge the least out of the other mentioned apps.