Are we paying influencers for exclusive content in the future? (Part 1)

The majority of influencers still gets their paycheck from sponsored posts. You know the drill: brand X approaches an influencer, he or she figures out whether it’s a match eventually both parties agree on creating sponsored content to promote the brand.  Preferably in the most authentic way. Monetizing content through brand partnerships is nothing new and a form or marketing a lot of us have become familiar with.  What if we told you that now, some influencers are switching things up by charging their fans in order to make a living. Starting from a monthly fee from $2 dollar to a whopping $222, users are experimenting with a whole new business model in return for ‘private’ content. 

Intimacy through subscription

So how does it work? There’s an emerging trend of influencers giving their audience the ability to sign up for paid access to a close friends list. This list is meant to share exclusive content that is inaccessible for the broad public. A regularly used website to organize the monetisation is Patreon, a crowdfunding-like platform. It lets creators set up pages for subscription payments.  Online newspapers have been rolling like this for a long time, publishing certain articles behind a paywall. The idea is to offer the exclusive, high quality content to those willing to pay. For influencers however, this isn’t purely another way to earn coins through a subscription based method. More so, they’re experiencing this as a new gateway to establish a more intimate bond with their community. However, how intimate can one go?   Remember the $222 subscription fee? Subscribers from this certain influencer are signing up for a ‘VIP’ package including: personal emails from the influencer every week, personal advice and some time to talk about their lives. We couldn’t help but question: is it up to these influencers to take over the role of psychologists or life coaches? Where do we cross the line? 

The importance of added value

In part 1 of this blog, we’re diving into the matter with Manon, founder of Two is a Crowd. “I find that there are positives and negatives to this matter. Let’s start with the sunny side of it. This business model allows influencers to be more selective in their collaborations, which means fewer and more authentic brand partnerships. Influencers representing 10 brands per week just can’t be taken seriously anymore. They cause brand more damage than added value. An important nuance to be made though, is that this new earning model should be mainly applied by those with a bigger following. A large part of their income depends on sponsorship deals. Nano and micro influencers aren’t in that same position. If they would suddenly follow this trend, it wouldn’t exactly come across as professional”. “Even though I see opportunities, I think we should be cautious about influencers giving advice about someone’s life and thus fulfil the role of psychologists. The latter, are people who have studied for years and acquired certain knowledge. In my opinion, this paramedical side of it is risky business and not a path that influencers should be walking. That doesn't alter the fact that I do see opportunities for influencers with specific skills such as interior designers or flower arrangers. In that case, influencers could provides a clear added value through this subscription based model.” 
Wanna know more? Head over to part 2 of this blog post.