Snapchat Launches Subscription Layer With Meager Business Benefits

Forty US dollars for an icon? Maybe, but what are the alternatives?
11 July 2022

Snapchat Plus – a viable business expense?

Snapchat has become the latest social media platform to attempt to open up a direct subscription service, adding extra bells and whistles for its “power users.”

For an annual fee of $39.99 (monthly and half-yearly price plans are also available), Snapchat Plus is designed for “those who communicate with their closest friends on Snap,” according to Jacob Andreou, Snapchat’s SVP of product.

That’s an important description, because it targets more peer-to-peer Snap users than business users – as you might expect from the relatively low annual cost.

Also unsurprisingly given the price point, the additional services Snapchat Plus will offer its core users at launch are relatively meager.

It will allow subscribers to:

  • Change Snapchat’s app icon
  • Get data on who has rewatched particular Snapchat stories
  • Use a “BFF” pin that lets users mark out specific friends or users, so they can be corralled for targeting with stories.

That’s a small additional benefits package in terms of business users. Changing the icon might be useful for potential marketing purposes. Data on users who have watched shared stories and the BFF pin can be used to get some understanding of how effective a company’s previous stories have been in reaching potential clients, and beginning to create a corporate relationship between the companies and those who are interested in their services.

See? Pretty meager. But Snapchat does have a demographic as a typical user that is difficult to reach on many social platforms. So if your target market coincides with Snapchat users, the forty bucks a year looks pretty good value.

Snapchat For Only Fans?

It will shock no business users that Snapchat plans to add extra features to the service in the future, though there may well be some bleed over between what standard users and subscription users can do. If anything, that would seem to weaken the offering for businesses still further. And it will likewise come as no surprise that Snapchat is not looking at any particularly aggressive business targets for the new service – advertising, rather than subscription, will continue to be the mainstay of the business model for even the most distantly foreseeable future.

But if Snapchat Plus is aimed more at ‘heavy-duty Snapchat users” than it is at giving business users any suite of functions that allow businesses to use the platform to any significantly more effective degree, it’s difficult to blame the platform when looking at the ways in which other social media platforms are edging into the subscription-level service arena.

Twitter Blue – Now With Undo

Facebook of course is subscription-free, though businesses can use the effective Facebook Ads function to put their content in front of eager – or even potentially eager – eyeballs through targeted ad marketing.

Twitter Blue, the subscription service from the world’s online bullhorn, does allow subscribers access to some services that might well be of use in controlling and re-using content. You can bookmark folders to archive particular grouped tweets and content for future use. You can also – in an answer to many a politician’s prayer – undo your tweets within an acceptably brief window, so that in the event that you meant to add corporate hashtags or tag particular users in, and forgot to do so, you can recall the tweet before it hits the wide world unadorned. Some Snapchat-similar add-ons include the chance to customize your icon and your color scheme – potentially useful for hardcore social media marketing campaigns.

Similarly priced more for individual subscribers than business customers, the Twitter Blue offering is nevertheless possibly the most business-facing of the subscription social media offerings released so far. But it, like Snapchat Plus, shows the fundamental dichotomy at work in adding a subscription model on top of a generally free-to-all media platform. Twitter Blue is not “Twitter For Business.” It’s “Twitter For People Who Use Twitter A Lot” – so the added features are not in any sense built to help businesses make the most of the platform. Rather, they’re built to extend the experience of individual users who are already highly proficient in using the platform. That’s an example being emulated by the new Snapchat Plus service.

Pay-To-Play With Tumblr Blaze

Tumblr Blaze is refreshingly up-front about what subscribers get for their money. It says it’s “a new way for you to throw some money at us in exchange for more eyes on your post. Blaze a post, and it will appear as a sponsored post on dashboards that follow you and those that don’t, until it reaches the impressions you paid for.” Think Facebook Ads, but for any post you have the money to blaze. While in some senses that makes it also the most straightforward of subscription options, the pay-to-play model pushes it more towards being a marketing tool, paid for out of a marketing budget, than necessarily an engagement and client community-building tool, which is what some of the other subscription social media offerings appear to be aiming at.

Telegram Premium Delivers an Expanded Experience

At that end of the market, it’s worth taking a look at Telegram Premium, which offers its subscribers what may be the most substantial package of benefits, including doubled limits, 4GB file uploads, faster downloads, and improved chat management. In essence, that makes Telegram Premium as revolutionary to the original version as the moment when Twitter announced the idea of doubling character limits from 140 to 280. It’s a wholly different experience, and possibly the best value for subscription money on the social media market right now.

The Value Proposition For Businesses

The issue for social media platforms developing subscription options is in defining a value proposition that makes a previously free service worth spending money on. That’s why most of the subscription services so far have focused on those already using the platform a lot, rather than necessarily on helping businesses do new and effective things through the platform.

As yet, neither social media platforms, nor in any real sense businesses themselves, have enough of an idea of what could make subscription social media a worthwhile prospect for businesses en masse. As both platforms and business intelligence on how they could be used evolve, that might change. Will Snapchat Plus be a game-changer?

On the evidence of its initial launch, it’s very unlikely for the majority. But if you market into a niche, it may be a game-changer.