Twitter has a built-in social hierarchy. There are those with blue tick marks next to their name, and those without blue ticks. The blue tick denotes a verified account, meaning this is a real person and is whoever their description says it is.
Verification was necessitated by the number of phoney and fake accounts on Twitter, which were often mistaken for the real person. Checking if you’re tweeting to the right person is one of the basics of using Twitter without screwing up. But what started out as a way to help readers sort the real from the fake has turned into an ego exercise.
The blue tick mark has become a social status in the world of Twitter. A coveted award, bestowed upon worthy Twitterati by the good folks at Twitter themselves. As journalist Mike Rundle wrote when he got his verification:
In the world of Twitter, being ‘Verified’ is the closest thing there is to gaining a knighthood. The program is theoretically restricted to “highly sought users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, advertising, business, and other key interest areas”, but there is no obvious way to apply to join their ranks.
Well, that has officially changed. Twitter now lets anyone apply for a verified account, as long as they meet certain requirements. If you’re important enough, you can now get that little blue tick. And that also applies to dead celebrities on Twitter, whose brands are still being managed by people they cared about.
— Twitter Advertising (@TwitterAds) July 20, 2016
“We hope opening up this application process results in more people finding great, high-quality accounts to follow, and for these creators and influencers to connect with a broader audience,” said Tina Bhatnagar, Twitter’s vice president of User Services.
Benefits of a Verified Account
So let’s say you go through the rigmarole of getting your account verified and are accepted into high society. What do you get in return?
Well, actually very little. The biggest change you’ll notice is that you get a new notifications pane that filters only replies, mentions, and likes by other verified users. It’s a simple way to reduce the amount of junk interactions a popular account gets.
Of course, you can already do this if you use third-party Twitter apps and tools. For example, Twitter’s own Tweetdeck lets you sort notifications by verified users only.
One of the worst errors Twitter made was making a few anti-abuse features only available to verified users; that seems to be changing.
— Anil Dash (@anildash) July 19, 2016
But the bottom line is that in terms of the user experience, that’s the only tangible addition you get with a verified account. It can also help with Twitter’s huge harassment problem, as some pundits point out, since a verified user is a real person and can’t hide under the cloak of anonymity while making disdainful comments.
What seems to matter more, though, is the intangible benefit. It’s a social symbol. Rundle put it perfectly when, tongue firmly in cheek, he wrote, “Ah, yes: myself. For that’s what it all comes back to. Above all else, it is my sense of self that has undergone a process of Verification.”
@rickygervais mother always told me that being verified on the INSIDE is what counts.
— dick costolo (@dickc) November 15, 2012
How to Get Verified on Twitter
So how can you go about getting verified? Twitter has posted guidelines telling users the kind of requirements needed from their account, apart from which types of accounts it is likely to verify.
Here’s a brief list of what you need:
- Twitter name that matches your real name or stage name (or your company’s real name if it’s a corporate account)
- A verified phone number
- A confirmed email address (corporate accounts should use their corporate email address)
- A detailed bio for your account
- A real profile photo of yourself or your brand (which can be easier if you check out our tips to shoot the perfect profile picture)
- A header photo that reflects you or your brand
- A birthday (for accounts that are not company, brand, or organization accounts) A website link in your account that reflects you or your brand
- Tweets set as “Public” in Twitter’s privacy settings
- A brief statement explaining your impact on your particular field, and why Twitter should verify you; a mission statement, if you will
- A scanned copy of a government-issued ID (like a passport or driver’s license)
Once you have updated your Twitter profile to meet all of these requirements, head to verification.twitter.com and fill out the form step by step.
Twitter will check if you meet all of the minimum requirements and ask for your mission statement. You may or may not be asked for the scanned ID in this process, but it’s also unclear what security precautions Twitter is taking to make sure your scanned ID is securely locked and doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. You might want to be careful with this one.
Applied for verification.. ? I will not let my dreams be memes. pic.twitter.com/hxqSmzlchF
— Kiing William (@Kiingtong) July 19, 2016
Finally, Twitter will send you an email soon saying whether your request has been approved or not. If your verification application is denied, you can try again 30 days after receiving the rejection email.
Does This Make Verification Insignificant?
It is yet to be seen what impact this verification application process has on the perceived value of the blue tick mark.
Agencies and marketers don’t care about the verified tick when working on promotional campaigns with influencers. Social marketers have previously said that the blue tick is a vote of confidence and clout, but it’s worth noting that part of a verified account’s appeal previously lay in the fact that users couldn’t simply apply for it. If anyone can apply, will the blue tick still hold the same power? Will users trust that Twitter will continue to only verify celebrities and relevant figureheads, despite how Twitter came to know of them?
With the verification process changing to allow applications, do you think the blue tick mark will still matter? Will you be applying for a verified Twitter account? How would you feel if you were rejected?