Will It Succeed In India?

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Meta will start a gradual test of Meta Verified on Instagram and Facebook in Australia and New Zealand. A monthly subscription will cost $11.99 on the web and $14.99 on iOS and Android

Meta’s price of about INR 1,000 per month for the verified feature as against INR 650 for Twitter Blue could be a hurdle to its success in India

Meta Verified will be available only to individuals for now and this is expected to help the Mark Zuckerberg-led firm in a smooth transition, according to experts

Following the footsteps of Elon Musk, Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg on Sunday (February 19) introduced a paid verification feature, Meta Verified, for Instagram and Facebook. 

“This week we’re starting to roll out Meta Verified – a subscription service that lets you verify your account with a government ID, get a blue badge, get extra impersonation protection against accounts claiming to be you, and get direct access to customer support,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post. 

Zuckerberg facebook post

In a blog post, Meta said it will start a gradual test of Meta Verified on Instagram and Facebook in Australia and New Zealand later this week. A monthly subscription will cost $11.99 on the web and $14.99 on iOS and Android.

The paid subscription will be available only to individuals for now, and not businesses.

“Long term, we want to build a subscription offering that’s valuable to everyone, including creators, businesses and our community at large,” Meta said.

The Zuckerberg-led company also said that there will be no changes to the already-verified accounts on both platforms.

The new feature on the Meta platforms comes three months after Musk introduced ‘Twitter Blue’ paid verification in November last year following his takeover of the microblogging platform in October.

While the introduction of the feature on Twitter led to heated debates, the reaction seems to be the same on Meta’s move. Opinions remain divided on the issue, with many social media users once again questioning the value of such verification which can be bought. Meanwhile, Musk called the move “inevitable”.

However, many believe that it is a smart way for the company to monetise its existing user base. Meta, which has not been shy of introducing features which have worked for other digital platforms, seems to have taken a cue from Twitter, which has tested the paid verification feature. Over the last few years, Meta has launched several features similar to other platforms such as ‘stories’ on Snapchat and long-format videos on YouTube in the form of IGTV. 

Will It Find Takers In India?

While Meta Verified seems like a good move to improve revenue for a company like Meta, which has been struggling with dwindling income and increasing expenses, there are questions if the feature would succeed in India.

Stressing that it is extremely important for companies to keep evolving in the social media sphere, Alin Choubey, business head – north at digital agency FoxyMoron, Zoo Media said that the key concern lies in the way the paid verification feature is executed.

While Netflix and YouTube’s paid subscription haven’t seen a lot of success in India, the number of paid users of Spotify have been rising consistently. Besides, Amazon Prime and Hotstar are also holding their grounds.

“So, if the value put out after a subscription is tangible and adding value to the growth of a creator or a brand, it is possible (that Meta Verified will succeed in India)…but seems highly unlikely because the price point is quite high for India,” Choubey said, adding Meta cannot provide anything tangible in terms of the features. 

Meanwhile, Meta’s higher price for the verification feature is also likely to act as a hurdle in its growth. Indian users would have to pay about INR 1,000 per month for Meta Verified to get a blue tick on both Facebook and Instagram. On the other hand, Indian users are currently paying INR 650 per month for Twitter Blue on the web. Its international rate is $8 per month on the web or $11 per month from in-app on iOS or Android.

However, Rajni Daswani, director of digital marketing at SoCheers, believes that unlike Twitter, which rolled out the verification feature in a hasty manner, Meta has chosen a structured method to introduce Meta Verified. Meta has introduced the feature first for creators, not businesses, which will allow it to have a smoother transition, Daswani said.

“Facebook has always been very careful and extremely rigid in terms of verification earlier as well, which hindered a lot of people from getting verified accounts…I think there will be that little bit of extra check happening at their end, maybe, that’s why they are also releasing it country by country,” Daswani said.

Daswani also believes that while it is difficult to make Indian users pay for a feature that they have been using for free, creators won’t mind paying $12 per month for Meta Verified if it results in higher visibility and reach.

Meta’s Business Performance

The new feature has been launched at a time when the Zuckerberg-led tech giant has been struggling with surging costs and declining income over the last few quarters. Its revenue has been impacted by both the global macroeconomic slowdown as well as business-specific incidents.

Till the end of September 2022, Meta had lost a whopping $9.4 Bn on its Metaverse bets. Besides, the company has also been struggling on the advertising revenue front after Apple limited Meta and other third-party apps’ access to its user data. 

Increasing competition and regulatory hurdles have also hit the company hard.

In its latest reported quarter (Q4 2022), Meta’s net income declined 55% to $4.6 Bn from $10.3 Bn in the corresponding quarter last year. 

To cut down on costs, Meta has started aggressive restructuring. In November it announced that it would be laying off 11,000 employees. Besides, the company has also pledged to cut down its spending on Metaverse.

However, Meta recorded $4.2 Bn of total restructuring costs in Q4 and expects to see some additional costs in 2023 in areas like office facilities impairments as restructuring continues. 

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