These days it’s not only celebrities and high flying social media influencers that would kill to get that little bluetick next to their Instagram account’s names. For lifestyle brands, a varified badge not only has the power to supercharge your influence ahead of your competitors. It can potentially send customers queueing up in droves whenever a new product is being launch, and subsequently lands you a repeat business.
With Instagram – at 1 billion plus users – being the platform with the most appeal for millennials, it makes more sense to want to be verified if you are a big brand in order to protect yourself and in the process prevent fraudsters from imitating you.
According to Instagram, a verified badge is a check that appears next to your account’s name in search and on the profile. It means that Instagram has confirmed that this is the authentic account “for the public figure, celebrity or global brand it represents”.
Things to prioritise to get verified
So what are some of the things experts agree you need in place to better your chances of being verified? Here’s what we’ve gathered at NOWinSA:
1. Have a strong online presence elsewhere
While a general believe is that you need to have a huge following to get verified, it is totally not so. A number of accounts such as that of South African veteran jazz singer Don Laka’s @donlaka (at only 900 plus followers), and @shopify_stockroom are a testimony to this. As proven, a strong online presence across various social media platforms can help escalate your verification chances.
In Don Laka’s case, we believe that his strong Facebook presence is what led to his Instagram verification, inspite of only amassing less than 1000 following on the platform. Here’s our logic behind this; before joining Instagram, Don Laka had already built a strong presence on Facebook, where he’s known for raffling feathers, as was the case when he challenged the SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation) for not playing enough local music on its various channels. These kind of stunts is what led him to becoming the voice of reason among his industry peers, which in turn helped him collect a great Facebook following.
Because he could easily be found on Facebook, we believe this made the powers that be at Instagram reason it would be good to help his followers effortlessly find him on its platform – since it wasn’t his platform base. After all, Instagram has always maintained that its mission is to make sure that people “can easily find the authentic people and brands they want to follow”.
Likewise, it was Shopify resident entrepreneur, Jane Lee’s YouTube strong following – where her e-commerce vlogs used to amass as much as 10 000 average views – that may have led to Shopify’s ecommerce store, The Stockroom being verified on Instagram. This was despite the account having had less than 400 followers and 8 posts at the time.
2. Be featured in multiple news sources
While authenticity remain top of the list – with accounts needing to represent a real person, and if it’s a business/entity it should be registered with an email address, and a link to the company’s website – Instagram highly considers accounts that are featured in multiple reputable news sources. While promotional content as sources for review aren’t considered, it helps to create some good press around your brand.
To do so, store owners can choose to join platforms like Orbelo and Shopify to get verified product reviews, which act as some of sort of validation that your business is real. Businesses can use this reviews to add to their collection of press coverage around their brand.
Unless you are an untouchable brand like the National Geographics, with the second most followed account – after Instagram – with 106 million followers and counting, smaller brands can get the blue tick provided they can prove that their expertise adds value to the platform. Take for an example journalist and Forbes contributor, Tom Ward (@mitdraw1), who although verified only on Twitter, never stops to stress the importance of being able to prove your expertise even on Instagram, stating in a recent blog: “I said that I’ve had over thirty articles published in Forbes, that I’ve written for several publications, been interviewed for various podcasts, etc. I also mentioned how much I love Twitter, how often I create content, engage with readers, and participate in chats.”
3. Prove that you are being impersonated
For well known brands, proving that your Instagram account is being impersonated or is likely to get cloned, can go a long way in helping them score the blue tick. A classic case could be that of sought-after American photographer, Branden Harvey, who successfully managed to report several fake accounts, leading to Instagram slapping him with the verification badge.
However, it can prove hard for others to prove that they have become targets of social media fraudsters, as that was the case with Uzalo actress Nyalleng Thibedi. As it turned out, the actress’ Instagram account had fallen prey to as many bogus accounts as five at one point and to make matter worse, was unsuccessful in her attempts to get Instagram to do something about it.
For someone like myself with a moderate social media usage, although I would like to believe I’m an avid Instagram user, it’s easy to argue that my account isn’t so much of a threat to fraudulent activities. This is despite having earned my own stripes in a media career spanning 20 years, which is enticing enough to scammers from a credibility standpoint. For many brands such as Walmart, Lulllemon, JetBlue and Zara, it may not be as easy to avoid this type of indiscriminate impersonation. Which is why active brands that fear being impersonated, can request verification directly from the Instagram app here.
4. Spend money on advertising
While Instagram wouldn’t want to outrightly admit to this, it reportedly pays to spend money on advertising, as Matt Britton, CEO at digital agency Crowdtap has maintained before. This totally makes sense given that Instagram algorithm doesn’t necessarily decides who actually gets the blue tick. It is real people who personally review accounts elegible for verification. Even Sprout Social agrees that splashing your cash on Facebook ads may be your brand’s golden ticket to earning the elusive Instagram blue badge: “Remember, Facebook and Instagram are connected. Spending money on Facebook could give you a way in with the verification team,” the site once shared. What with unverified widespread reports that Instagram employees take bribes and can charge as much as $15,000 to pass through verification applications. Be careful though, as the long arm of Instagram may finally catches up with you!