Written by: Myles Shin
The world is slowly turning into a subscription-based economy. Pay $6.99 a month for Disney+, $8.99 for Netflix, $12.99 for Amazon Prime – it all adds up. Twitter has decided to join this subscription-based business. Twitter recently announced that they will be creating their own subscription-based “Super Follows” system where users can pay a designated subscription to receive premium content and tweets from whom they “Super Follow.” This is a very different turn for social media platforms because, previously, most mainstream social media was free since the creation of MySpace and Facebook. Instagram, for example, is free to download and use, but in return, will monetize users’ personal data.
Recently, however, the rise in the popularity of Patreon and OnlyFans has brought up the conversation of other streams of revenue for social media platforms. Both Patreon and OnlyFans use a subscription-based business model where users can specifically subscribe to content creators to receive exclusive content. Twitter has hopped on this train and is trying to find new ways to increase its profitability. The company has yet to go in depth about the percentage of the subscription Twitter will take from its content creators who join the “Super Follows” system. For reference, Patreon takes a 5-12% cut and OnlyFans takes a 20% cut, so perhaps Twitter’s earnings will also most likely be somewhere in between that 5% to 20% range.
Unfortunately for Twitter, much of the feedback from its users has been negative. Although Twitter hopes that this Super Follows idea will create a tighter-knit community between users and popular creators on the platform, immediately after Twitter’s announcement of its subscription model, the hashtag #RIPTwitter started trending. One of the top tweets with #RIPTwitter is from @dmed08, who wrote, “Twitter really thinks I’m gonna pay to read other people’s tweets?” with a GIF of a group of people laughing. Many other Twitter users agree with this user’s sentiment, and seem to be against the added subscription service. However, the only way to tell whether or not Twitter’s Super Follows system will be popular is to look at its numbers once it is finally released.
Needless to say, investors are curious and intrigued about this new approach that Twitter is using. Twitter’s stock went up more than 7 percent on February 25, the day of the announcement, while the S&P 500 went down 1%. The investors believe that Twitter’s “Super Follows” subscription model can help Twitter continue to increase its profit margin and, hopefully, hit its goal of doubling its profit by 2023. So while many of the users do not seem too optimistic about “Super Follows,” investors seem to believe much differently.
Twitter’s new approach is quite unorthodox for a company that is a part of the Big Four in the social media realm, which consists of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat have yet to make a subscription plan, with Twitter the first to do so. This could lead to Facebook and Instagram also adopting a system similar to Twitter’s flagship model. This is exactly what happened when Snapchat stories became popular; Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram all soon created their own version of a post that disappears after 24 hours. Therefore, as Twitter soon rolls out its “Super Follows” system, we would expect other social media platforms to try to find new ways to generate revenue, whether that is with a similar subscription service or one that is completely different.