New features for Patreon video, podcasts, and creator pages (2024)

A new suite of Patreon features improve the membership experience and help creators turn casual page visitors into members. These include a way to highlight tiers, as well as improvements to the experience listening to audio and video on Patreon, with a sleep timer, playback speed, and closed captioning.

In this episode of Backstage with Patreon, Johna Seo and Vivian Chen from Patreon’s Product Marketing team serve as your guides to these new features.

For more details about Patreon Video and how it might be a fit for your creative business, listen to “Goodbye unlisted YouTube links, hello Patreon Video” on Backstage with Patreon.

Subscribe to Backstage with Patreon on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or directly via RSS. Join the discussion about the episode in the Patreon Creator Community Discord server.

Episode transcript

Brian Keller:
Hello creators. You are backstage with Patreon where we open the curtain on how to build a thriving business on Patreon. I'm Brian Keller from the Creator Success Team, and today we're catching creators up on a trio of product launches from Patreon that may have gone under the radar and can be valuable for the experience of their members and better converting their page traffic into new members. We'll have Johna Seo and Vivian Chen from the product marketing team as our guides to the new features which span both video and audio consumption as well as visitor conversion.

So let's get started on Backstage with Patreon with Johna Seo who's worked in marketing at Dropbox and Google prior to Patreon, and has an MBA from Haas at the University of California Berkeley. And Johna specifically works with our content and community teams on new product launches, and we'll be talking about some exciting updates to Patreon Video hosting. Now if you haven't listened to episode five of Backstage with Mimi Xu, after this one you can go back for the history of how Patreon built native video hosting for creators. And a reminder that Patreon Video is not just for creators who exclusively make long form YouTube videos. And so Johna, let's actually start there. What are some of the use cases we see from creators and how they're using Patreon Video?

Johna Seo:
Yeah, so one of the main use cases that we see for Patreon Video is actually podcasting. So for people that have a podcast, sometimes they will also record a video to go along with the audio. And so that's one of our use cases. Podcasters, they love Patreon, it's a great place to have weekly content that they can push out to their fans. In addition, reaction videos to different types of media, that's also popular, but really given that we're a multimodal platform, any creator that is eligible can use Patreon Video as a way to share their great content with fans.

Brian Keller:
Awesome. All right. Well, let's get into the new product launches that have recently come out on the video side of things and talk first about playback speed. What are we making available to creators? What are the options that them and their members now have?

Johna Seo:
Yeah, so now for fans or members who are viewing Patreon Video, they can adjust the playback speed. So I think this is something that a lot of members have seen on other video platforms so we're excited to make this available to our Patreon fans as well. But if you want to adjust the video speed anywhere from 0.25X to 2X, now you have the ability to do that.

Brian Keller:
That is great to hear. For myself personally, I am a 2X listener to podcast. I love getting to blast through it nice and fast, and it's great that it's a control that our listeners now have there. So how did we come up with the way to implement that? Any interesting choices we made about the user interface, about the consumption experience?

Johna Seo:
Yeah. So I think in general with our consumption experience, accessibility was very important to us. So I think we'll talk about another feature in a little bit, but playback speed was one of the things that would help support our fans if they needed any assistance. So whether it's someone like you who likes to listen or who wants to watch their videos at 2X speed, or someone who wants to see it slower because it's just easier for them, that was one of the key things we had in mind when building this capability.

Brian Keller:
And to make sure it's clear to creators, they don't need to do anything to turn this on or set it up. This is just automatically available on their videos, right?

Johna Seo:
Correct. Yeah. So now it'll just be rolling out. So for any fans that are looking at a Patreon Video on a membership that they're subscribing to, they will see this ability to address a playback speed.

Brian Keller:
All right. You alluded to an accessibility feature as well. So let's talk about close captioning. What did we just recently launch?

Johna Seo:
Yeah, so we also launched close captioning. So close captioning is as you would expect, it's text on the screen based on whatever language is in the audio. So it's the same language that you hear in the audio. You'll be able to see a text version of that scrolling across the screen.

Brian Keller:
That's interesting. So is it just for English or how does it detect, understand, what are the limits to the capabilities of it?

Johna Seo:
It's actually for I think 150 plus languages. So it's not just for English, it's in, I would say pretty much any language that you'd want to listen to it in. And it's just auto generated, so based on whatever is coming out of the audio, it's able to detect that and then generate the text that goes along with it.

Brian Keller:
So do creators need to do anything for this one as well, or do they have any ability if they're like, no, the close captioning is not quite right, do they intervene or is it really just it's that automated service for it?

Johna Seo:
This is also an automated service. It is available right now for any newly posted videos. For previously posted videos you might have to wait a little bit for our tools to be able to back scrape and get those post captions up, but for any newly posted videos, they will be just automatically available.

Brian Keller:
Oh, that's really nice that we're actually going back and making sure that that historical videos have that as well. So I can imagine one of the reasons to do this is of course, just an accessibility aspect, make sure folks that need access to the captioning have access to it. But imagine there's something that other people may just want for clarity for understanding there. How did we think about both of those potential dimensions in deciding to put some effort into this kind of feature?

Johna Seo:
Yeah, I definitely think we led with the accessibility lens, but to your point, anyone who could really benefit from these features if it's something that they want to try. But for close captioning, it's great for people who have difficulty hearing or if they prefer to read along with the video content, and it can be combined with the playback speed. So if they want to slow down the speed of the text, they can slow down the speed of the video and then just adjust it to their preferences.

Brian Keller:
All right. And then if we have some creators who have heard about Patreon Video, maybe this is the first time they're hearing about it, but if they're interested in learning more, potentially setting it up on their page, what are the steps that they should be taking?

Johna Seo:
So right now, Patreon Video is in our early access period, which means that you need to be eligible to have access. And in order to be eligible, you need to have a launched Patreon page, be on pro or premium, create content for all audiences, and just make sure that your account is in good standing. And then besides that, there isn't anything that the creator needs to do. They should already have access.

Brian Keller:
Great. And what else would be part of your pitch to a creator that's thinking about it? Should I do this? Maybe they're using unlisted YouTube links, maybe they're paying for a service like Vimeo.

Johna Seo:
Yeah, I would say in this early access period, we've given generous amount of video hours so that our creators can really get a sense of what it looks like and what it feels like to use Patreon Video. So in this period, I would say just try it and see if it works for you. One of the key benefits is that there's a security element to it because you know that it's natively hosted on our platform, therefore the chance of, for example, like you mentioned, unlisted links, could get leaked. And so in this case, because it's native to our platform, it's a lot more secure and you can have peace of mind that this video is only accessed by the fans who are subscribing to your membership.

Brian Keller:
Awesome. Well, thanks for walking us through these new changes on the video side, both playback speed and close captioning. Now that we've covered the new features for videos hosted on Patreon, let's turn our attention to the audio and podcasting side. And Johna has also been working with our teams on new launches for the in-app audio experience. So let's start with why are we putting some focus into podcasting audio and the listener experience now?

Johna Seo:
Yeah, so like I mentioned before, we have a lot of podcasters who are using Patreon, and we really want to make sure that our in-app pod player is best in class. And so we wanted to invest in this area and make sure that it's something that is delightful, that's really easy to use and is just if you see the Patreon exclusive content on our platform, then you can also listen through this awesome pod player experience. So that was an area that we really wanted to invest in.

Brian Keller:
Well, what had we been hearing from creators or from their members about what incremental features or improvements that they actually wanted from that Patreon audio experience?

Johna Seo:
So overall, we've been hearing that a lot of creators wanted to make the listening experience super easy for their fans, and so that's why we wanted to invest in the pod player to make it a very just delightful, you shouldn't even have to think about it. It should work as you would expect. And so that was one of our key focus points this year was to really improve on this pod player. But we also understand that a lot of listeners may actually listen off platform too. And so that's where we wanted to provide some flexibility. So today you can grab an RSS link from our platform to listen on your pod player of choice. And earlier this year we also announced a partnership with Spotify. So this is something that we're working on now, but in the coming months, fans will also be able to listen to their Patreon exclusive episodes on Spotify. And so our focus is to make sure that we have an awesome listening experience for our fans, whether it's through our in-app pod player or it's through other pod players that they already use.

Brian Keller:
Great. Well, let's get into some specifics. What are the actual new features that we've recently launched for podcast listening?

Johna Seo:
So we've launched a bunch of different features throughout the last few months, but the most recent ones are the ability to download an episode to the app, and we're also launching a sleep timer that will be available on both iOS and Android. And then last but not least, we're launching the ability to jump back in right where you left off. So if you decide to leave the app and you're in the middle of an episode, then when you reopen the app, then the player will have wherever you left off so you could pick back up.

Brian Keller:
Cool. And let's talk about some of the specifics within that. So when you download to the app, tell me how that experience works if you're an active member or if they're no longer a member of you on Patreon, what's that experience and some of the security elements of that?

Johna Seo:
So in order to download to the app, you need to have access to that audio post. So it depends on what level of settings the creator has set that post to, but if it's available to all or if it's set to only their members and whoever is selected to get access, they'll be able to see this post. And then in terms of the download to app, you'll see a little icon next to the post that says it has a little download arrow, and so if you go ahead and hit download, then the audio will download to the app, and so you can listen to the episode offline. So even if you don't have wifi, if you're getting on a plane somewhere or if you just don't want to risk getting disconnected, then now you can easily listen to an episode offline.

Brian Keller:
Very cool. So a lot of these things are about table stakes, what listeners are going to expect there. Is there anything that you noticed we've done in the user interface, the way we implement these that are a nod to making it a cool, delightful, nice experience for listeners?

Johna Seo:
Yeah, I would say big shout out to our team because they definitely have put in the work to uplevel our pod player experience, but they really focus on little moments to add delight or to make the pod player really easy to use on the go. So for example, I mentioned earlier that jump back in right where you left off, and so when you jump back in, then you'll see a little mini player in the app, front and center. So it's just super easy to pick up if you are just quickly exiting and wanting to reopen the app. Another update that we've had on the audio player is a playback speed there as well, and you can just click on the playback speed and it'll filter through the different options, so you don't have to, it doesn't necessarily open up a separate sheet. So these are minor tweaks, but they're really intentional designs based on how can we bring more delight and usability for our fans.

Brian Keller:
These are great, and even if a creator or a member is not necessarily going to notice in a big way that these are changes, these are things that do affect the experience of listening. Hopefully your members are going to consume more of your content, stick around and has all those retention benefits as well.

Johna Seo:
Yeah, exactly.

Brian Keller:
All right, Johna, well thanks for joining us. We talked through both the video side of things and audio podcasting. Lots of great updates for creators. Thanks.

Johna Seo:
Yeah. Thank you for having me.

Brian Keller:
In the third feature in our product roundup applies to creators across all art forms, and our guest is Vivian Chen, who's worked in marketing, sales and business development at LendingTree, Walmart E-Commerce and Slickdeals. And at Patreon, she specifically works with our growth team to bring to life the experiments and new product features that help creators acquire, onboard and retain more Patreons to their membership business. And so creators now have access to a feature called tier highlighting, which is a new way to get more of their visitors to their creator pages to make a pledge and guide them to choose a preferred tier. But let's start Vivian, with how does tier highlighting work and what is this new feature for creators?

Vivian Chen:
Yeah, Thanks Brian. So tier highlighting is a feature on the creator page where it draws attention to a specific tier by using creator's brand colors as well as some copy label to call out that specific tier. And so there's two options that you can use with tier highlighting that you may see on creator page. One appears as you may like, which for a creator they can choose, and that would be the option, where we predict what that will best increase their earnings. The other option is just easier for creators to choose if they would like is their most popular tier. And so this would just call out their most popular tier on their page.

And what this does is that it helps simplify the process. So when fans are coming onto the creator page and they're looking at which tier to join and there's all these great benefits that they can look at and descriptions and the price to compare, sometimes it can be helpful to just have a nudge towards a particular tier. And we found that through our testing that it did help more fans become members with this feature. So that's tier highlighting in a nutshell.

Brian Keller:
And it sounds like there's a little bit of inspiration actually from behavioral psychology, maybe e-commerce in the way other sites do it. Can you talk about that idea that we're actually trying to build now into what creators can do?

"You just want some nudge towards a particular product. All these call upon something with us to go look at the product further."

Vivian Chen:
Yeah, for sure. So for example, on Amazon when you're shopping and there's different motivations for when you're going to go browse for a product, and overall you just want some nudge towards a particular product. And so in e-commerce that might be a sale, it might be some promo, it might be some quantity, or it might be the best rating, it might be the top picked or something. All of these call upon something within us to go look at that product further. And so in a similar way with this, it's like, hey, you may like this tier because the creator said that they may like it, or it could be the most popular tier, and so you want to join what everyone else is joining. There is a third option actually where creators can go and choose the specific tier that they want to highlight. And so for example, if they have specific benefits set up or it's a new tier or something else that they wanted to include, they can actually go and showcase this too.

Brian Keller:
And it's a small detail, but it makes sense when someone's on your page, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to make a decision, especially if you have a bunch of tiers. And this idea of a creator may have a very specific tier in mind that is the one that maybe is the best return on investment for them or the one that is going to provide the most value. Now, had we actually seen creators essentially mimicking or doing this kind of behavior from scratch where they could write whatever they want in the tier description, they could indicate to their audience already that there's a preference or a recommendation around it?

Vivian Chen:
Yeah, definitely. And this is where the idea originated from, we saw creators already writing in their tier, you should choose this one, this is my most valuable tier and with descriptions on why. Or they would set up a dummy tier and say, this is just as a place roller or something, or this is just for if you want to give some sort of custom pledge. And then they're like most popular tier is their next tier above. So we've seen creators find their different ways of doing it, and this is just a simplified way of making it listen to what feature for them to use.

Brian Keller:
Yeah, I think that speaks to how a lot of the ideas that we want to bring to all creators on the platform actually come from seeing creators who figured out something themselves and that turns in we can create a great experience, make it part of the natural product experience there. Well, so for creators that are interested in doing this or going deeper on their tier highlighting, what are the options that they have for customizing and how do they actually change that in their settings?

Vivian Chen:
So if you visit your membership tab, there's a tier highlighting settings menu, and when you go to that, you can see the three options, the earnings potential option, which again is the tier that's highlighted based on which tier is predicted to increase your earnings. There's the most popular tier option, which is again the tier with the most Patreons. And then there's your choice, which literally the creator can go in and choose a specific tier that they want to highlight, and then you can save that in that window and you can preview it on your creator page.

Brian Keller:
Great. And you described this as something that we started out as an experiment, so something that we test out with certain creators before bringing it out to the wider audience. Can you talk about the broader idea behind experiments and growth and what we're trying to do to help creators in this way?

Vivian Chen:
Yeah, definitely. So experiments like Patreon, they're part of the core building process at Patreon. They help inform us with data and how we make decisions when we develop products. And to define an experiment is when we release a product or a feature or design to a subset of our community to see how it affects their experience. And so when we get that experience or when we limit it to a few, we can compare that to the wider community and actually measure the behavioral impacts and validate our hypothesis.

Brian Keller:
And one of the things I really love about the way we approach experiments is it's all about what will be beneficial to a creator in terms of their earnings and in terms of their relationship with their members and their audience. And that's what Patreon wants too. If an experiment is successful on those dimensions, those are the things that we are going to be looking to roll out to all creators there. We see it as different than some other platforms out there that have advertisers that are thinking about watch time, keeping people on site related to it or what's going to drive ad revenue. We feel like we're really unencumbered from that and can really focus on experiments that benefit our creators. So what else do you do when it comes to these experiments? How are you trying to pull in ideas or information or feedback from creators?

Vivian Chen:
Yeah, experiments are just one approach for how we would go about generating ideas. And in product development in general, we'll look at a variety of feedback from our support center, from surveys, from actual user research with our creators. And this could be informal or formal studies as well as just looking at other competitors and such. And so we'll gather all of these learnings and gather all of these insights and then we form a hypothesis.

But before this, like you said, we start with principles and just like the principles help us serve as a guide for how we set up and conduct these experiments. And they also embody the values that we at Patreon want to carry. And so for example, if our principal is like, we do not want to be an advertiser, we are not going to be setting up goals or experiments that would contribute to an increase in advertising. And so that's the first and foremost how we would start off, and then we would identify our goals and then form the hypotheses and then go from there.

Brian Keller:
Great. Well, I'm glad we got to talk a little bit about experimentation. To recap on all the features for our listeners here, we first talked about new video features. So for all creators using Patreon hosted video, you can now do playback speed that your members can automatically choose what is their preference, anywhere from 0.25X to 2X, and it actually works, the close captions that we've added in 150 different languages automatically. We talked about audio podcasting, improvements in the listening experience, so downloading an episode to the app, the sleep timer on both iOS and Android, and being able to continue where you left off, with that element of security as part of this, only your active members are the ones who can continue to access the content there.

And tier highlighting, this feature for creators to guide their visitors on their page to particular tiers, they can use the you may like feature that is just a Patreon recommendation of what will help increase their earnings. They can do most popular or they can do any tier of their choice there. Accessible through the tier settings. And of course, we ended up talking a little bit about experimentation at Patreon, what we're doing for creators and the growth there, and much more to come on that. So Vivian, thanks for wrapping us up on tier highlighting and sharing that with creators.

Vivian Chen:
Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Brian Keller:
Tune in next week to Backstage with Patreon when we have Alan Seawright of Cinema Therapy on the show. We talk about the origin of cinema therapy after the film industry shut down in 2020 and what he's learned from his first year on Patreon and his dream of making films from the ideas of his members.

To catch every episode of Backstage with Patreon, follow or subscribe in your podcast app and leave us a review. We also have transcripts available at patreon.com/backstage. You're growing as a creator by listening to the show, so why not share the insights from this episode with another creator on Patreon or who is running a creative business. We'd love to have you as an active collaborator with Backstage with Patreon. Come join the discussion on the Patreon creator Discord. Follow the link in the episode notes and you can get answers to your follow-up questions directly from the guests and weigh in on what topics we'll be covering next. Editing by Tyler Morrisette. I'm Brian Keller. See you next time, Backstage.

New features for Patreon video, podcasts, and creator pages (2024)

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