Instagram's new subscription model: How it will aid Indian creators

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While the features are being tested in the US, creators in India bet big on Instagram’s new subscription model.

Instagram is testing three new subscription features under which followers can pay a fee to access content that a creator shares.

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Instagram‘s new features include — subscribe live, subscribe Stories and subscribe badges which will let creators host live streams, share Stories exclusively with their subscribers and also a badge for subscribers which will let creators identify their paid followers on the platform.

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri has said that, with Instagram subscriptions, creators can develop deeper connections with their most engaged followers and grow their recurring monthly income by giving subscribers access to exclusive content and benefits.

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While the features are being tested in the US, creators in India bet big on Instagram’s new subscription model.

Creators can’t keep calm

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“There will now be a viable form of earning from the platform. Currently monetization on Instagram is limited to brand collaborations. Finding the right brands for your vision can be difficult, especially if you are creating content in a narrow niche,” said Niyati Marvinkurve, digital content creator and co-founder of YouTube channel Let’s Make You Rich, who has over 13,000 followers on Instagram and her channel called Abhi and Niyu is followed by 2.2 million Instagram users.

According to Marvinkurve, subscriptions will solve two problems that creators face. “One, the creators need to find a reliable source of monetization so that they can continue to create content that they love. Two, many people from the audience want to support creators but they don’t know how to.”

Gautam Madhavan, CEO – Mad Influence, an influencer marketing firm, said that the subscription model will become a significant revenue stream for creators.

Also Read: Kylie Jenner beats Ariana Grande to become most followed woman on Instagram

Experts note that on a platform like YouTube, content creators are known to earn about 20-25 percent of their revenue from paid features like super chats, super stickers, and super thanks. They estimate a similar percentage in terms of content creators’ revenue via subscription feature on Instagram.

Along with revenue, Raj Shamani, digital content creator, investor, podcaster and entrepreneur who has one million followers on Instagram said the features will help creators to gain loyal followers in the long run as creators will know their audience personally. “This will help them create content their audience wants,” he said.

Siddhartha Singh, Co-founder and Director, Black Cab, a marketing agency said that these features when launched in India would be a massive boost for the creators and pointed out that India has the biggest base in terms of audience on the platform.

India is the leading market for Instagram in terms of number of users with an audience size of 210 million.

What changes for Instagram?

However, the subscription features will not lead to a massive spike in the user base of Instagram, said Singh. “Over a period of time it will lead to more users joining the platform as the content quality and experience delivered by the creators would be far better,” he added.

Also Read: TikTok Most downloaded app of 2021, followed by Instagram and Facebook

Madhavan said that the subscription features will increase loyal users for the platform instead of new users and the features could also lead to an increase in time spent on Instagram.

He also said that the subscription model will not have a significant share in Instagram’s overall revenue pie as it will be new for the Indian market.

Elaborating on this Singh said, “Instagram biggest revenue stream is through advertising. I don’t see the revenue model changing as it is a proven and very efficient revenue centre for the company. The subscription model will be rolled out in a phased manner and will take a considerable amount of time to be able to contribute significantly to Instagram’s revenue streams.”

Brand collaborations

When it comes to deals with advertisers, experts said that a paid follower base is also lucrative in terms of brand collaborations.”Having subscribed users will grant the creators an edge as these will be the most loyal and active fan base of the creators and hence the degree of influence will be a lot higher. This will also allow brands to do content that is directed towards the paid subscribers with a better understanding of the audience making the content more specific and direct depending on the case,” said Black Cab’s Singh.

He added that brands can also leverage creators’ subscribed user bases to conduct hype marketing campaigns or exclusive pre-booking drives for their new product launches.​

Instagram’s interest in India

While the subscription features are yet to launch in India, Instagram has been launching many of its new features in India first. India was the first market where Instagram launched the short video feature Reels as well as a separate tab for it.

Along with Reels, the platform started testing a feature called Collab in July last year that will allow users to collaborate with others on Feed Posts and Reels.

In addition, India was among the first two countries where Instagram launched Live Rooms, a feature where four people can go live together. The platform is also testing another new feature that allows users to add music to their feed posts and India is among the first three countries where it is doing so.​

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