While Twitter struggles to sell users on the value of Twitter Blue, and Meta expands its subscription offering to more regions, it’s Snapchat that’s actually seeing the most success in the new wave of social subscriptions, with its Snapchat+ option now up to four million paying subscribers, a year after its initial launch.
Snapchat+ - which notably doesn’t include a verification checkmark (though it does include a Snapchat+ badge) – offers a range of exclusive add-on features for your Snapchat presence for $3.99 per month.
Those add-ons include:
- Access to exclusive Snapchat icons
- Improved data insights on your usage and engagement
- Priority Story replies
- Custom post view emojis
- The option to freeze your Snap Streaks
- AI-generated profile backgrounds
Given the utility that Snap provides for its 750 million monthly active users, these add-ons are of significant value, because they enhance the in-app experience, with customizable elements that align with usage.
Which is why Snapchat+ has seen relatively good take up – though it is also worth noting that four million is only a tiny fraction of Snap’s overall audience.
Which is the big problem with social subscriptions. When Elon Musk unveiled Twitter Blue as a key component of his ‘Twitter 2.0’ rejuvenation plan, many analysts noted that the subscription approach had been tried or considered by various apps before, to limited enthusiasm from users.
The basic framework of Musk’s plan makes sense – if you can charge a small amount per user, that will make it harder for bot peddlers to create millions of profiles and use them to influence in-app discussion, because if enough users are paying, that will highlight bots versus real humans – i.e. the humans will be paying subscribers and the bots won’t.
The problem is, $8 per month is not a small amount to a lot of people. And rather than focus on adding utility into the package, Elon instead opted to sell verification ticks, which immediately lost their perceived value and exclusivity through the very act of selling them.
So while a lot of Twitter users did want to be verified as a form of social currency in the app, selling checkmarks essentially devalued this as a product. Combine that with a middling Twitter Blue offering, with features that most users don’t care for, and it’s pretty easy to see why only 0.3% of Twitter users have signed on to pay.
Meta may be doing better, with its Meta Verified plan also selling checkmarks, but with an additional value-add of direct, in-person contact for account issues. That, for many Meta users, is worth the $11.99 per month alone – though Meta hasn’t provided any stats on Meta Verifed take-up as yet.
Yet, even at the most optimistic estimates, it’s unlikely that any of these subscription offerings is ever going to see take-up by more than single-digit percentages of each app’s respective users.
As an example – YouTube Premium, which has been available for years, and offers a pretty good value-add in no in-stream ads, reportedly currently has around 50 million subscribers. That’s out of YouTube’s 2 billion users – 2.5% of its overall audience.
At this stage, Snapchat+ is up to 0.53% of Snap’s total user base, while Twitter Blue, as noted, is sitting at 0.3%.
It’s a good supplemental income stream, for sure, and a handy extra revenue pathway to have. But it’s not going to be a solution, as Elon had initially hoped.
Still, Snap seems happy with its additional revenue path, and it’s announced two new Snapchat+ features to help lure more subscribers in.
First off, Snap’s adding ‘expressive chat messages’, which is essentially a new font size slider for your DMs.
It’s also adding custom chat colors to further personalize your Snap experience.
They’re not game-changing functional additions – which is important, as it means that non-subscribers are still able to use the app in pretty much the same way, so Snap doesn’t lose people through exclusion. But they do serve an additive purpose.
And with Snap playing a key connective role for its audience, there’s clearly a value to what Snapchat+ provides.