Insta and TikTok roll out creator subscriptions — because influencers are their competitive advantage

Friday, January 21, 2022 by Robinhood Snacks |
Fluffy only meets subscribers [Westend61 via Getty Images]

Fluffy only meets subscribers [Westend61 via Getty Images]

Like, share, subscribe… The influencer's Triple Crown. This week Instagram and TikTok began testing tools that allow creators to offer paid subscriptions. Both are hoping to drive more traffic to their apps. TikTok didn’t share details about its subscription, but here’s what we know about Insta’s:

  • Only 10 creators were invited to test the feature, including Olympic gymnast @jordanchiles (431K followers) and spiritual coach @bunnymichael (216K followers).
  • Creators can charge anywhere from $1 to $100 for access to subscriber-only content and special badges that help fans stand out in crowded comment sections.
  • Insta is not taking a cut of creator earnings — yet. But it plans to expand the program to all creators in coming months, and may start “sharing” revenue in 2023.

Liked Jason Derulo’s TikTok… and his Reel, and his Snap story. Social giants are competing with new features to court top creators, whose millions of followers drive massive engagement. By attracting influencers with paid subscriptions, social platforms hope to win over their followers.

  • Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat have between 38M and 45M users each, and that gap is expected to narrow to about 1M users by 2025.
  • Social platforms have spent billions on “creator funds” to attract top talent, and the growing creator economy is worth $100B+.
  • Meanwhile, creator-focused platforms like Clubhouse, Patreon, Cameo, and OnlyFans boomed during the pandemic by connecting creators directly to fans.

Influencers are influencing tech companies… Creators have more leverage than ever before. Social companies initially focused on user growth, not creators. But now that the market is saturated and they’re competing for the same users, keeping top talent is key to engagement. And engagement is key to social’s profit puppy: ads.