One of the biggest complaints of businesses on social media today is that it’s extremely difficult to create meaningful engagement because it’s so difficult to stand out.
On Twitter, for example, more than 330 million monthly active users compete for public attention. In the United States, 92% of the population is familiar with Twitter, even if they aren't active users.
And yet, it's estimated only five percent of Americans follow even one brand on Twitter. Few B2B companies, in particular, can expect to attract a large number of followers, and most of the followers they do attract will never see their tweets, thanks to Twitter's selective algorithms. For B2B companies and brands that aren't already well-known, Twitter can seem like an endless marketing time-suck with limited return.
That's why earning a verified account -- the famous blue checkmark next to your handle -- is a competitive advantage that can make the difference between being a zero or a hero on Twitter.
Blue-checkmark accounts receive preference in Twitter search results, gaining you additional visibility. And when visitors do come across your account, they are much more likely to follow you or give your content a closer look if you are verified. It's a trust signal that says you are worth paying attention to.
Blue checkmarks are also rare. Currently, only about 1 in 1,000 Twitter accounts have earned verification. That makes it even more valuable.
Verification has been so hotly contested, in fact, that Twitter was charged by many users as being arbitrary and inconsistent in its issuing of checkmarks, and as a result, put new verifications on hold in 2017. Now, as of January 2021, verification is back and brands will be able to apply once again for this important form of third-party validation.
How To Get Verified on Twitter in 2021
Twitter announced new, more transparent guidelines for verification in November and updated those based on feedback from more than 20,000 survey respondents on December 17. The new policies go into place on January 20.
When verifications are relaunched, individuals and brands will be able to apply through a new, self-serve application process that will be available on their Account Settings page. Applicants will select a category for their verified status and confirm their identity via links and other supporting materials.
What are the requirements for verification? Let's look at how a typical business can earn a blue checkmark. Both company and product brands can qualify for verification if Twitter determines they are "prominent."
To qualify as prominent, brands must meet two of the following three criteria:
Presence in a public index such as Google Trends, a public stock exchange or Wikipedia;
Three or more recent featured placements in media outlets that meet Twitter's criteria for news organizations, such as outlets that adhere to the standards of the Society of Professional Journalists;
Follower count in the top 0.1 percent of active accounts in the same geographic region.
For all but the largest brands, achieving a follower count in the top 0.1 percent of all active Twitter accounts represents a high bar. So the smarter path is to achieve notability through third-party validation in the news media and through sources such as Wikipedia. Wikipedia, by the way, also uses news coverage to determine whether a brand is worthy of an entry -- further heightening the importance of media attention to achieving verification.
While the mainstream media may not be the all-powerful gatekeepers they once were, when it comes to verifying the notability of people and businesses on Twitter, they are still extremely important. So if you want to boost your Twitter status, you should start by earning media placements that tell Twitter you are among the 1 in 1,000 accounts that are worthy of a blue checkmark.
Scott Baradell is CEO of the unified PR and marketing agency Idea Grove, one of the top 25 technology PR firms in the United States. His first book,
Trust Signals, is scheduled for publication in 2021.