Mark Zuckerberg may have better luck with Elon Musk’s ‘Blue Tick’

Mark Zuckerberg may have better luck with Elon Musk’s ‘Blue Tick’

Mark Zuckerberg may have better luck with Elon Musk's 'Blue Tick'

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Three months ago, Elon Musk announced an $11 monthly subscription service (about Rs 910) to give Twitter users a blue verification tick.

On Sunday, Meta Platforms announced much the same thing: a $15 (approximately Rs. 1,240) subscription service allowing users to obtain a verified blue badge, provided they provide an issued ID. by the government.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is a shameless copycat. It cloned Snapchat’s Stories feature (even calling it “Facebook Stories”), launched a copy of TikTok called Reels, and emulated the live video app Periscope with Facebook Live. The strategy is working. Many of these clones, like Stories and Reels, are successfully taking off on Instagram.

This will likely be the case with Zuckerberg’s new subscription service, even if at first glance it seems incredibly off-putting. Who would want to pay to give their username to Facebook? Thing is, it’s not really aimed at regular Facebook and Instagram users. It’s aimed at creators, especially on Instagram, and the real selling point is the reach.

Creators typically make money by partnering with brands and posting sponsored content. A fitness influencer can use a post to sing the praises of a specialty foam roller, for example. But these creators live and die by how many people “like” their posts, a metric that usually equates to views; so the more likes they get, the more money they can demand for sponsored content. And Meta’s new subscription service offers “increased visibility and reach” in search and recommendations. The company has positioned this as a verification issue, but it’s really about giving certain posts a better chance of going viral.

Twitter’s subscription service failed and only about 0.2% of US Twitter users had paid subscriptions like Twitter Blue in January 2023, according to The Information. But the strategy has a much better chance of succeeding on Instagram thanks to the promise of reach. Many influencers will decide that paying $15 (around Rs 1,240) per month to help their content stand out will be worth it.

Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Mandeep Singh estimates the new service could add $2 billion (about Rs 16,500 crore) to $3 billion (about Rs 24,800 crore) to Meta’s annual sales, a fraction of Meta’s $117 billion (approximately Rs 9.688). crore) in revenue last year, but likely more than the company makes from the metaverse. Singh said in a note that the service would also help prevent creators from switching to TikTok.

Indeed, its biggest impact will be to keep the most interesting creators on Meta’s platforms and thus ensure that millions more users watch Reels instead of TikTok. The subscription service is rolling out in New Zealand and Australia first, but when it comes to Europe and the US, the creators will test how far $15 (about Rs. 1,240) really takes them. audience terms.

Creators are known to obsessively follow their likes and posts and will know in no time whether the subscription is effectively amplifying their content or not. It is not an easy task. Last week, Musk asked his senior engineers to amplify his messaging to Twitter users as a top priority — and they ended up going too far, according to a report from the Platformer tech newsletter. A day after Musk complained that his Super Bowl tweet got fewer views than Joe Biden’s, regular Twitter users found their feeds spammed with messages from the billionaire. They complained, and Musk suggested he would walk back.

Meta must avoid the same error. If users start to feel like their feeds are filled with more promoted content, they’ll switch to TikTok.

Zuckerberg is adept at copying ideas that aren’t profitable and then making them profitable. He did it with Stories, which never brought Snap the same financial success as Meta. And Meta has toyed with the idea of ​​charging users for features for years – it just never had the courage to try. Now that Musk has charted a course for Zuckerberg to follow, it should be easier for Meta to introduce fees for other features, helping the company weather a slowdown in online ad spending and offset the tens billions it spends on the metaverse.

The new service is also a tacit admission from Zuckerberg that Facebook and Instagram aren’t really social media platforms anymore. They are becoming places where people come to have fun. Meta’s AI is increasingly emulating TikTok to put viral posts from strangers in people’s newsfeeds, instead of recommending posts from friends and family.

Zuckerberg now has to strike a delicate balance between giving users what they want and giving creators the exposure they want too. Musk is struggling to make this work for Twitter. Zuckerberg probably has a better chance.

© 2023 Bloomberg LP

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