Will You Pay For Specific Features On Social Media?

Will You Pay For Specific Features On Social Media?

Signing up for a social media platform like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and more usually come at no cost. While signing up for a social media platform is more accessible than signing up for a streaming service because there’s no money involved, there’s always a catch–after all, there is no such thing as free in this world. If you are not aware, social media platforms earn money through advertising, and they get the data they need for it through the information we share on social media. There are many documentaries such as The Social Dilemma that explain this scenario, and social media platforms are starting to look for different ways to earn money by paywalling some features. Whether you are willing (or not) to pay for special social media features, we break down the current landscape:

Pay-to-use is becoming a thing

If you have been using Twitter, one of the most-clamored features is the edit button, which is deemed to be useful for a lot of users as it helps them correct typos in their Tweets. More than a decade later, Twitter finally made the edit button available–BUT only to those subscribed to Twitter Blue, which is priced at $4.99 in the US and Php 145 in the Philippines–though you can’t subscribe if you’re in the Philippines.

Aside from Twitter, Telegram and Discord also have paid services that give subscribers added perks like new features and higher upload and streaming limits. Telegram Premium is priced at Php 139.99/month, while Discord Nitro is priced at Php 263.99/month or Php 2639.99/year. While we know people (especially streamers) who avail of Discord Nitro, we have yet to see people subscribing to Telegram Premium.

Other social media platforms that have paid versions include Snapchat, where their Snapchat+ gives you story rewatch count, custom icons, and special badges for $3.99/month, or roughly Php 240/month. Unlike Discord Nitro and Telegram Premium, Snapchat+ is described to be experimental in nature, and it remains to be seen if Snapchat users will actually avail of it. Twitch also has a paid subscription service that costs Php 100/month.

Will other social media platforms follow through?

Despite the trend of social media platforms making some features available only if you pay for a subscription, the Meta group (that’s Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp) and TikTok are some of the few that remain to be completely free, even though there are sketchy ways of growing your social media presence. These social media platforms depend a lot on advertising, and the issues that the Meta group has faced regarding this have hurt their ads business significantly.

On top of a pullback from digital ad spending, The Verge revealed that Meta is looking into letting Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram users pay for certain social media features soon. “I think we do see opportunities to build new types of products, features, and experiences that people would be willing to pay for and be excited to pay for,” Meta Monetization VP John Hegeman said in an interview with The Verge. Meta has yet to reveal which features will be considered as paid, but we presume that they will be going for the same route as Twitter.

As for YouTube, there are reports that they might make 4K streaming a paid Premium feature, which might irk some people but not necessarily those living in the Philippines. Considering the state of our internet speeds, not all Filipinos will be able to take advantage of 4K video streaming over at YouTube.

Is it even worth it in the first place?

That really depends on several factors, but we think that it’s not worth paying for these special social media features IF you are not a power user of that app. Even if that’s one factor to consider, the extra features these social media platforms are offering may not entice the typical Filipino social media user. Given that internet in the Philippines is more of a privilege than a right, it’s really hard to convince Filipinos to avail of paid subscriptions for using certain features in social media apps.

While Telegram Premium and Discord Nitro are one of the better subscriptions as far as social media apps go, will the normal Juan really make the most out of those features, especially if our internet connection is not that great? That brings us also to one of the reasons why things like cloud services will have a hard time thriving in the Philippines for now: just like what we said regarding cloud gaming, there’s a need to improve our internet infrastructure and make it more as a right than a privilege to Filipinos.

To sum it up, we do understand that social media apps need other sources of revenue outside of ads, but the idea of paywalling certain features may not work in countries like the Philippines. Our internet needs further improvement, and social media apps need to deliver real value for money for their premium features–along with solid reasons for their users to maximize those extra benefits.

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