If Meta’s announcement about its pilot subscription service sounds familiar, that’s because it bears a striking resemblance to Twitter Blue. Paying users will get a coveted verification badge and increased prominence. There are other benefits such as better customer support and account protections, but the question remains: Will Facebook and Instagram users choose to pay a premium?
Some Creators Will Pay — Everyone Else Will Punt
This past Tuesday, Forrester conducted a 24-hour “pulse check” poll* of 747 adults in its ConsumerVoices Market Research Online Community across the US, the UK, and Canada. We segmented the respondents to those who are Facebook and Instagram users (655 online adults). We asked:
Meta is rolling out a subscription service for Facebook and Instagram that aims to give you more visibility and security. It will include a verified badge, more protection from impersonation, direct access to customer support, increased prominence, and other exclusive features. For as low as $11.99 per month, will you subscribe to “Meta Verified” when it becomes available in your country?
- 82% said NO
- 9% said YES
- 9% are “undecided”
*Note: This poll was administered to a random sample of 655 online consumers in the US, the UK, and Canada in Forrester’s qualitative ConsumerVoices online community. This data is not weighted to be representative of total country populations.
Ad Revenue Is No Longer A Tailwind
Social media companies are thirsty for new revenue sources to mitigate a softened ad market brought on, in part, because of data deprecation. And, sure, if just 3% of Instagram’s users pay for verification, that’s (roughly) $500,000 million in additional revenue for Meta. Add Facebook to the mix, and you get the kind of numbers forecasted by Bank of America. Let’s note, however, that online creators are predominantly on TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram — not Facebook. So it’s important to weigh Instagram (over Facebook) much more heavily in any forecast for Meta Verified subscriptions.
Influence Will Be Bought, Not Earned
Let’s be real: “Pay to play” is becoming the norm on legacy social media platforms. In 2015, I wrote about how this happened to brands. Now, it’s happening to users. Meta says, “We want to make it easier for people, especially creators, to establish a presence so they can focus on building their communities on Instagram or Facebook.” Translation: “Pay us a monthly fee, and we’ll make you more prominent.” This means that influence becomes less about something that is earned and more about something that is paid for — amplifying those voices who can afford to pay.