Earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg announced major changes to Facebook, citing a desire to get back to the social media platform’s friends-and-family roots. Another major change may be coming our way soon – paying to belong to a Facebook group. According to a June 20 blog post, Facebook is testing an idea that would give group administrators the ability to charge subscription fees to support their work and help them invest in their online communities.
‘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. Many admins do this today by creating an additional subscribers-only group that sits alongside their existing group, and rely on additional tools to track and collect payments,’ wrote Facebook.
‘Subscription groups were created to make it easier for admins to provide these experiences with built-in tools, and to save them time so they can focus on offering members-only content. For members, they’re now able to sign-up and manage their subscription through the Facebook app for iOS and Android,’ Facebook said.
According to USA Today, subscriptions for the test groups will range in price from $4.99 to $29.99 per month. Offering payment solutions for groups will simplify management for administrators already charging a subscription fee outside the Facebook system. Facebook will not take a cut of the subscription fees, but if users subscribe through the App Store or Google Play for Android, those systems will take a 30 percent fee. Facebook could decide to take a cut of the revenue if the pilot is successful.
Facebook is testing the program with a small number of groups across multiple interests. Two of the pilot groups include Grown and Flown Parents: College Admissions and Affordability, Organize My Home and Meal Planning Central Premium. Facebook will seek feedback from the pilot groups and make adjustments before deciding if it will continue the program.
In May, Bloomberg reported that Facebook is exploring the idea of offering a paid option for users who wanted an ad-free experience. The hope is that offering an ad-free experience would attract new users to the social media platform.
Facebook has had a tumultuous year, starting with its announcement to prioritize posts from friends and family over posts from business pages. Since then, the company has been plagued with accusations that it has shared fake news and, in its biggest scandal to date, Facebook was involved in a data breach with Cambridge Analytica involving data for more than 87 million Facebook users. This year, Facebook has also tried to mend fences with the news media and it is now trying to help video creators and groups to monetize their work.
Facebook definitely needs to tighten security for its operations to ensure that user data is kept private, and it is making strides in that direction. Facebook also needs to continue to find ways to support its users, and subscription options are a good start. We always encourage companies to test subscriptions first and iron out the wrinkles before going big, and Facebook is taking those best practices to heart. We are eager to see how this experiment works and to see if Facebook group members are willing to pay for access to their favorite groups.