Some Instagram Influencers ⁠Are Selling Their Close Friends Status on Patreon

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Many Instagram influencers are turning to Patreon to monetize some of the platform’s features.  Are musicians next?

Last year in November, Instagram rolled out a new feature for the platform called Close Friends. It’s a separate list of followers with special viewing permissions ⁠— created for friends and family. But many Instagram influencers are turning it into a paid window of access into their lives.

Some people employing the method are creatives using the list to share work with supporters. Instagram says the company has no plans for an on-platform payment system ⁠— most of these influencers turn to Patreon to fill the gap. One influencer sells access to her Close Friends list for only $3.33/month on Patreon.

Influencers like Caroline Calloway kicked off the trend, charging $2/month to 797,000 followers for paid access. Some people have taken exception to the concept of selling a friends list, but it’s just one way to gate-off content.

Facebook offers native ways to control who sees what updates ⁠— Close Friends on Instagram is a step closer to that reality. Accordingly, some influencers think the ‘close friends’ moniker is a poor choice on Instagram’s part. Others say they avoid it because the extra intimacy with fans feels like an obligation in the long run.

Coming up with extra, exclusive content for a handful of people can become a full-time job. Some creators share their morning coffee with their close friends, letting them see an unedited look at their life. Of course, the rates these Instagram influencers charge for the privilege varies wildly.

Some influencers charge only $2/month for access, while others cost as much as $6/month.

Robby Stein ⁠— a product lead for Instagram ⁠— says ‘a good chunk’ of users have about 20 Close Friends on their list. Influencers with hundreds of followers on the list are rare right now, but the phenomenon is growing.

Everything about social media is about transforming yourself into a brand. Charging for ‘closer’ access is just one way these influencers are capitalizing on that branding opportunity.

Now, the question is whether musicians will follow the early trend, especially those with massive follower counts.