Social networking site Facebook is currently testing a new feature that would allow admins of groups on the platform to charge subscription fees to members.
Group subscriptions are currently being piloted by the site and it could be monetising all groups on the platform should it deem this test to be a success. A select number of groups have been chosen to test the feature by the company and the feedback it gives regarding the feature will have a huge say into whether or not it will be rolled out worldwide. A number of cooking, home cleaning and parenting groups are among the test groups for the feature.
According to the company, it has decided to try group subscriptions as a way to reward and support admins of groups who dedicate their own time to maintaining their online community on the site. Furthermore, Facebook revealed that this type of feature has been requested by group admins.
In a statement posted by Facebook on June 20, group admins are seeking payments in order to help them deepen the level of engagement they can offer to their members, and to continue supporting the community they have created.
It is believed that the fees for being a member of these exclusive groups would vary from $4.99 to $29.99 per month. Furthermore, paid subscription groups would still run alongside the free versions of the groups, so it suggests that these paid groups would be premium sub-groups of the original page.
For a group to qualify for the paid subscription feature, it must be a large group with many members in it. The admin of the group will then be able to post about the subscription feature and invite its members to join. It cannot force anyone to become a paid member. The admin must also highlight the exclusive content members can expect to see if they decide to opt in.
It is not yet clear on how Facebook is set to benefit from these subscriptions, as it would more than likely want to take a cut of the membership fees to contribute towards its own revenues, which are currently dominated by advertising and paid content. However, the company has stated that it will not be taking a cut from any memberships during the initial testing phase of the feature.
Members of these groups would be able to sign up and manage their payments and subscriptions from both mobile versions of the site, as well as through the desktop version. As the company gets more information about these subscriptions, it could then expand upon the feature and evolve it to meet the requirements of both members and admins. The company could even consider giving more aspects of the site a paid-for option, but this could see the platform drive a considerable number of its users away from the site, which it will surely not want.