Facebook will soon allow group administrators to start charging between $4.99 and $29.99 a month for exclusive membership to certain groups.
Parenting, cooking, and home cleaning groups will be the first ones to get the new features as part of an early test. For now, free groups will remain intact, but they will soon have the option to launch premium sub-groups.
For instance, lifestyle blogger Sarah Mueller's Declutter My Homegroup is starting an Organize my Homegroup that costs $14.99 a month to join. The Grown and Flown Parent group is making a College Admissions group that charges $29.99 for access to college counsellors.
In the past, Facebook groups have always been free, so charging for a membership might heighten the sense of exclusivity and make a group feel more special to be in. A paywall may also just drive more people away, and not just from joining groups, from Facebook as well.
Facebook says that the reason for trying to implement this is so that group admins, who put a lot of time and dedication to growing their communities, can also earn money at the same time. The company also said that the money that is earned through this can be put into creating higher-quality content for the group as well, whether that be more posts, video, or offline meet-ups and events.
For now, the feature is still an experiment on mobile and Facebook won't be getting a cut of the subscription fees. However, as part of standard App Store and Play Store policies, Apple and Google will be taking a percentage of user subscription fees via iOS and Android. Still, this is just the beginning of Facebook's efforts to monetise groups, which, unlike News feeds, does not rely on advertising.