Patreon has found a new way for creators to make exclusive offers to donors. Give them private video content through a new Snapchat copycat feature on the company’s app, Patreon Lens.
Like Snapchat’s original Stories model, videos and stills shared through Patreon Lens will disappear after one day. Privacy settings let creators share Lens content only with their “patrons,” though they can adjust this to share videos with the larger Patreon-using public. In a post announcing the new feature, Patreon suggests creators use Lens to showcase their work process, film their travels, and, essentially, ya know, vlog. (Patreon phrases the latter like this: “Show your fans even the mundane things so they can see the ‘real’ you.”)
Fans can subscribe to a creator’s Patreon Lens content by donating at least $1 monthly, according to TechCrunch. And in addition to the extra revenue, the more regular, more intimate content will also give Patreon creators a new avenue by which to keep their donors engaged and up to speed with whatever it is they’re creating.
The basic idea seems to be for patrons to connect with creators in the way that fans form connections with their favorite YouTube stars, but without having to go through all the trouble of maintaining a YouTube channel. Plus, Lens will offer an easy solution for those creators who are interesting in keeping their work mostly private. As Brent Horowitz, VP of platform at Patreon told TechCrunch, one Patreon-using writer said while they’d never post their works-in-progress to public platforms like Facebook, they would gladly share privately with patrons. Other creators have echoed this sentiment: You’re not giving your work away for free nor giving the uninformed masses something to troll if you’re sharing it just with your donors.
Patreon drew ire from creators in December with an announcement that the crowdfunding platform was going to change its fee structure. The proposed change would have likely discouraged patrons from donating small amounts to creators because it would have charged 35 cents for every pledge, negatively affecting those on the platform who benefit from a bunch of small dollar figure donations. But Patreon ultimately abandoned the change due to creator backlash, to the delight of some of the platform’s most vocal users. We’ll see if this new feature again has those creators applauding Patreon’s business moves.