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Facebook is testing paid subscriptions for private groups

Facebook is piloting paid subscriptions to join private groups, to monetize admins who run it. The company said in its blog post, “We hear from group admins that they’re looking for ways to help them earn money to deepen engagement with their members and continue to support their communities.” To do this, Facebook said, “we’re piloting subscriptions with a small number of groups to continue to support group admins who lead these communities.”

In May, Facebook introduced a few new features for groups. These included a dedicated customer support page for admins, and tools for them to manage and moderate posts quicker.

Monetizing small creators

Facebook groups can require a huge amount of workload to maintain and keep free of clutter as they grow large. Especially when the admin is the primary contributor and everyone else is there in the capacity of an interactive audience, it can be difficult for small creators to monetise. Piloting paid subscriptions allows Facebook group admins to make money off of the time they spend working on their groups. Take this example that Facebook included in its post announcing the pilot:

One such community leader looking to support her work, Sarah Mueller, started a group called Declutter My Home as a way to inspire and motivate others to tidy up their apartment or house. The group quickly became an active community for helping tens of thousands of people across the world to reduce clutter in their spaces. With her new subscription group, Organize My Home, members will be able to work together on bite-sized projects, and have access to easily actionable checklists, tutorials, live videos and more to help with home organization.

This is similar to services like Patreon, that let YouTubers and other content creators monetize their content on top of ad revenue, in exchange for exclusive access to otherwise unavailable content. Think of it as a people’s paywall.

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Siladitya adds: While Patreon is a useful and popular funding platform, it is rather limited in functionality when it comes to offering social interaction. If Facebook decides to roll out this feature to everyone it could post a serious threat to Patreon as it would offer a deeper feature set using which content creators can engage with their subscribers/patrons. A video content creator who already has an audience on Facebook could monetise some of them by just redirecting them to the paywalled group where he/she could offer additional paid-only or early access content. This significantly lowers the friction for a donor/patron as well as they don’t have to sign up for and follow a separate website.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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