Every year, it seems that there is a new buzzword or trending topic that happens. Sometimes, these trends evolve into a new form or feature of media, such as the recent and ongoing video streaming subscription race. It seems that eyes in 2023 and beyond could be moving to a relatively fresh competition in the social media subscription space.
Social media subscriptions aren’t technically new—they have been around since the onset of services like Discord. However, with Elon Musk’s recent acquisition of Twitter, his new ventures like Twitter Blue have turned the social media space upside down.
The best path forward for your business is to stay informed, alert, and ahead of the race. To help you out, I’ve broken down everything you need to know about social media subscription services and how you can start preparing right now to deal with them.
How Do Social Media Subscription Models Work?
Just like Netflix offers a premium streaming subscription where you can opt-in for fewer ads and more content, the social media subscription race aims to essentially do the same. It isn’t necessary by any means, but Elon Musk and others see the value in earning a few extra dollars from content creators and small businesses like yourself.
The idea is to encourage users on various social media platforms to pay a few dollars a month to earn privileges, such as the classic blue verification check mark and early features. Some even remove ads for the influencer, allowing them to see posts and view videos without having to spend half a minute watching an advertisement.
These are optional services, but they enhance your overall experience with that social media platform. Given that ad revenue isn’t always reliable these days, these subscriptions can be a potentially viable revenue stream for companies.
Here are some of the relevant and current social media subscriptions you should know about.
Twitter Blue is the primary example of the social media subscription trend in 2023. Elon Musk took over Twitter and completed the monumental $44 billion deal in October 2022. Nearly immediately after the deal was completed, he swiftly moved to make widespread changes across the board.
One of these was the ability for someone to obtain the highly coveted blue verification check mark through less-than-ideal means. You could essentially pay to unlock the verification check mark through Twitter Blue. This monthly subscription service varies in price around the world but costs $8 and $10 in the U.S. and Canada, respectively. Unless you’re on an iOS product, in which case it costs more.
Twitter Blue offers subscribers the paid blue verification check mark, no matter how many followers they have or who they are (more on this controversy in a bit). In addition, they receive access to certain features earlier than the rest of the massive social media platform, including the ability to edit their already published tweets.
YouTube Premium (formerly YouTube Red)
YouTube broke ground with its own form of a social media subscription service with YouTube Red in the past. Though it eventually died off, it evolved into the current YouTube Premium service today. It is more expensive than some of the other subscriptions here at US$11.99 a month.
What you get with this service is ad-free exclusive content, which is quite useful if you’re constantly swept up in the YouTube algorithms like me and use YouTube Music for streaming songs on your device. You can even watch some of the exclusive YouTube Originals that aren’t available otherwise and even download some videos for offline use.
Twitch is the premier livestream website where content creators livestream themselves playing video games, chatting, cooking, journaling, playing music, and so much more. Like YouTube, it offers ads throughout live streams that interrupt your viewing. Twitch Prime is roughly US$5 a month and provides an ad-free experience.
In addition, it provides some extra income to the content creator you subscribe to, exclusive emotes, and other little perks. Unfortunately, while Twitch Prime is cheap, subscriptions only apply to a single content creator. So, if you follow more than one person and want an ad-free experience from all of them, you’ll have to pay $5 for each one.
Discord is one of the more underrated social media platforms, especially for certain tech-based start-ups and content creators. The channel-based system has its own popular subscription service with Discord Nitro. You can boost servers you love, gain custom emotes to use in chat, have HD video streaming, and can upload larger content.
Is Twitter Blue The Start Of A New Trend In 2023?
The fact of the matter is those aforementioned paid subscriptions are the bulk of the social media services available today. Other major social media sites like Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram have yet to introduce similar services. However, Twitter Blue possibly changes everything with the social networks business model.
Though Twitter Blue is quite controversial, there is no doubt that Elon Musk sees some success from this. I couldn’t tell you how many blue checks I see these days on Twitter from people who are only there to argue in the comments like they always did.
Breaking it down even further, Twitter Blue made about $6.4 million in consumer spending shortly after its implementation. While not all of this is necessarily Twitter Blue, the bulk of it is. The subscription count is rather low, in the hundreds of thousands, possibly having broken a million by now.
Even still, this modest success is only growing every day. While it may not happen in 2023, it is likely that Twitter Blue will start a social media subscription race in the future. It is only a matter of time until Facebook offers its own similar service, which will likely lead to Meta embedding it into Instagram, too.
TikTok seems like one of the best spots for a subscription-based service, given how it is strictly video-focused. So, it feels like it’s a matter of time until that arrives, too. If I had to guess, this is a new trend that will rapidly expand, so be prepared to be encouraged to pay extra on some of your other favorite social media platforms for digital marketing purposes.
Twitter Blue controversy and concerns explained
With that said, I think there is some controversy and concerns about Twitter Blue worth noting. Ignoring the overall controversy surrounding Musk’s acquisition of Twitter for a moment, the subscription-based Blue service is a massive problem for a number of reasons.
For one, it waters down the importance of verification check marks if any random person is able to get it by spending a few dollars a month. This only empowers the trolls and problematic characters on the internet to act out more since they feel like their toxic voice is stronger than ever before.
Furthermore, Twitter Blue causes confusion regarding corporations. As soon as this subscription service broke out, I started seeing viral posts from fake companies with a paid check mark saying ridiculous stuff. These included impersonations from Twitter Blue users like “McDanalds” who posted about its Beyond Meat alternative being named such for being “beyond its expiration date.”
Though there have been some efforts to crack down on these impersonating accounts, the measures aren’t enough. In fact, these goofy memes and fake companies have only made Twitter more popular, breaking its all-time user record multiple days in a row shortly after the beginning of these posts.
Will Twitter Blue even stick around?
The reality is Twitter is far from dead, and Twitter Blue is seemingly partly the cause behind it. While it isn’t as successful yet as Musk would likely prefer, this could change in the future. Without a doubt, it seems that Twitter Blue is here to stay, and it will likely only include more features in the future to entice new subscribers.
If you were someone hoping for the verification check mark to go away, it is doubtful that this change would be made. We are 2023 now, and it is still here for the paid subscribers, so it is likely a permanent offering at this point. The whole concession that Twitter makes is notifying you that it is a paid user when you click on the mark.
For better or worse, Twitter is one of the largest social media platforms in the world. As such, it is going to be quite costly to upkeep day-by-day, and it is understandable that Musk may want to make some money back for it. After all, as you may know from your own business, advertisements aren’t always enough to cut costs these days.
Since Musk needs to profit off of Twitter for it to remain a viable business for him to keep in his ever-growing portfolio, it is all but clear that Twitter Blue is sticking around for the foreseeable future. There is even a chance that we could see an increase in its monthly subscription price before the end of this year.
With inflation and the like, more services like Netflix are increasing their monthly prices, so it is possible that Twitter Blue will do the same as more features are added. Or at least that multiple tiers of subscriptions will be offered.
In this same vein, the likely continuation of Twitter Blue increases the chance of social media users seeing similar offerings for other sites like Facebook and TikTok in the future. For now, we will have to wait and see.
How To Prepare Your Business For The Social Media Subscription Race
Since Twitter Blue and social media subscriptions, in general, are sticking around, it is now time for you to address this for your company. The social media subscription race is only just now starting, so there is still time for you to prepare yourself and your company for what’s ahead.
There are a few ways you can do this, as I will note below.
1. Build your online presence now
First and foremost, now is the time to build your online presence on the internet. Social media is going to continue changing in the near future, and you don’t want to fall behind. Your business’s online presence should be one of your primary focuses at this point.
If you can build out your brand image and presence online, it will carve out a niche for you in the coming days when more impostors and competitors appear. The internet is always on the move, so you want to be part of it. If you value success, you’ll want to grow your online presence through social media and your followers.
It’s time to get on or consider places not mentioned here, too, like Snapchat and Patreon.
2. Take charge of your online community
Part of the issue with Twitter Blue and the somewhat anarchic state of the internet are impostors. Even if Elon Musk adds more ways to avoid these problematic users online, they will still exist. In addition, you don’t want the community that you're building to manage itself.
That is why you need to prepare by taking charge of your online community now. There are a lot of entrepreneurs, for instance, who create communities on Reddit, Twitter, Discord, and the like, and let them manage themselves. This is how toxicity and gatekeeping run rampant.
Avoid this by taking charge, laying out the ground rules, and doing whatever it takes to remove the problematic parts of your community now before it’s too late.
3. Embrace change; don’t shy away from it
The supposed social media subscription race marks a massive shift in the internet. We will likely see even greater changes in the near future and beyond 2023 for social media platforms. More subscriptions, augmented reality, and the Metaverse are going to change the internet forever.
What you need to do is immediately embrace that change and not shy away from it. If you’re a Facebook content creator, for instance, and the platform adds a Twitch Prime-like system, encourage it and promote it to your following. If Twitter adds Discord-style channels in the future for communities to hang out, be one of the first to take full advantage of it.
If you can stay ahead of the curve or at least at the forefront of it, you will be in the right place to benefit the most from these changes, even if you don’t necessarily love them.
4. Expand your reach to every corner of the internet
While you should embrace the change that is coming, you should also be prepared for failure and jumping ship from various platforms. To do this, now is the time to expand your online community and presence to every corner of the internet. If you aren’t on all of the major platforms like Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, and so on, do it now.
Hire a social media manager or even a team, if you can afford to, to manage all of the places where your business is present. You don’t want to put all of your eggs in a single basket, as that can result in failure. For instance, while it is unlikely to happen if Twitter falls in the near future and your business solely dominates there, you’re in a horrible place.
You would have to pick back up and start fresh on another platform, like one of the emerging social media channels like Mastodon or Hive. Good luck, though, as you’ll be competing with everyone else in the same boat. But if you are present and active everywhere, a loss or complication in one area will simply allow you to strengthen your other locations.
This goes doubly so for content creators reading this. Don’t just limit yourself to Twitch, YouTube, or Discord. Be present everywhere, even if you make an audio-only podcast, and ready to move at a moment’s notice, or else you could fall behind and become irrelevant.
Start By Building Your Online Community Now
Twitter Blue might not be starting the social media subscription revolution just yet, but I believe it’s inevitable. As I mentioned above, one of the ways to combat this and be prepared for the future of the internet is to build out your online community now. However, this is honestly easier said than done.
That is why you should absolutely see what Elena Kostoka has to say on the matter with five helpful steps you should take to build out your online community today. These tips can get you started on the road to commanding your community in a way that will weather the possible digital storms that are to come.
In addition, we are an ever-changing site that is here to meet the fluctuating changes of your online business on the internet. As such, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to always be up-to-date on everything that we cover in the future, like this post right here that you’re reading. Don’t miss out on this digital journey we’re all on together!
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