Social Media Brands Turn to Subscription Websites

Subscription websites are for more than just traditional publishers and boxes of the month

The term “subscription” is a hot topic these past few weeks, especially for new age publishers and media companies like Twitter and Medium. Twitter recently sent a survey to users to ask if they’d be interested in a paid $20 subscription website account that would give users access to a premium product, which all seems to boil down to having a cleaner, more curated feed through Twitter’s TweetDeck App.

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In their survey, they write:

“Twitter is considering offering an advanced TweetDeck experience, with more powerful tools to help marketers, journalists, professionals, and others in our community find out what is happening in the world quicker, to gain more insights, and see the broadest range of what people are saying on Twitter. Whether you use Twitter for work or just want to be more informed on the latest news, sports, entertainment, political viewpoints, and information in today’s world, this advanced TweetDeck experience will be designed to help you get even more out of Twitter.

This premium tool set will provide valuable viewing, posting, and signaling tools like alerts, trends and activity analysis, advanced analytics, and composing and posting tools all in one customizable dashboard. It will be designed to make it easier than ever to keep up with multiple interests, grow your audience, and see even more great content and information in real-time.”

I think Twitter may need to offer more specifics to get buy-in from their loyal userbase, but it’s good to know they’re talking functionality and curation rather than content paywall, because that keeps the SEO benefits of using their platform rolling in.

Medium, co-founded by Twitter’s Evan Williams, will also be trying out the subscription website model with a $5 fee that Williams says will fix ‘broken media’. According to Subscription Insider, “Subscribers will get an upgraded Medium which will offer a better reading experience, which includes a limited set of expertly curated stories. Williams said the experience is “something that is completable, satisfying, and puts you in control.” This new experience is under development, but Williams promised that subscribers will get early access to the new format and exclusive features once they are available. Secondly, readers will get “even better content,” and Medium will shift all of the revenue from founding members to writers and independent publishers.” We’ll see how that one goes, but Medium has a loyal audience and $5 is not a big price tag for a curated content subscription website, something Medium has already shown to do quite well.

Finally, check out the newest newsbot in town, called Discors. OK it’s been around since 2015, but it’s recently pivoted and is now an app that unlocks “the space between $0 and a full subscription,” according to Neiman Labs. They write, “This month, the company launched a revamped version of its app that moved away from highlighting individual contributors and instead lets users access commentary and analysis from publishers such as The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Washington Post, and The Economist for a monthly price.”

There’s a little in it for publishers, though (note: a little bit). “Discors pays “tens of thousands of dollars every month” to all its publishers in order to access a set number of stories per month.” CEO and cofounder Basil Enan says their team curates at least two stories each day from outlets in their catalog. So what’s in it for publishers? Enan’ says it’s lead gen for the full subscription website. If they get hooked on the small amount of content Discors is feeding them, they might opt for fully paid subscription website. At this time, Discors isn’t a big threat to publishers, so we’ll keep watching and listening to what they’re up to, along with other similar apps.


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