Verification is a great benefit to brands, for two reasons. For one thing, it’s a sign of prestige. You have to be someone special to receive verification, and in some circles, being verified is like having an official notice that you’ve “made it.” How true that is, well, you might re-think it once you see the truth behind verification.
The other benefit is more of a matter of security. Verification means your page is guaranteed to be you. If you’re not verified, anyone else can create a profile and impersonate you, potentially harming your brand. With verification, you can at least shift the blame to users after telling them to watch for the verification check mark.
Pop quiz; am I talking about Facebook verification, or Twitter? Trick question. I’m actually talking about both of them. The benefits, the obfuscated requirements to be verified, and the process as a whole is virtually identical between them.
One simple metric you might use to measure verification is number of fans. How many fans do you need to be verified?
Some time ago, we did some sleuthing about verification on Facebook. We scoured the lists of popular Facebook pages on Fan Page List and looked for pages that were and weren’t verified. Some of the results are interesting.
Obviously, at the top end everyone is verified. You have to go a few hundred accounts down the rankings to find an unverified page. So, at the top, you have accounts like Facebook with 161 million likes, Shakira with 100 million, and YouTube with 80 million. All of those pages are verified.
On the other hand, you have pages with millions of likes but no verification, like the PC Gamer page or Snaptu, the app developer.
So, clearly, just having millions of followers doesn’t guarantee verification. With this being true, you would expect to see pages with very few likes but a verification check next to their names. And, indeed, you do; the two we found were Koka and Young Chizz, both entertainers, both with mere tens of thousands of likes.
So, how many fans does it take to be verified on Facebook? The answer seems to be “any number more than 10,000.” Now, that’s not to say that you’re not eligible before, nor is it to say that you’ll be guaranteed verification once you reach that number. Facebook’s verification process is quite obtuse, and here’s what they have to say.
- “Right now, we’re only accepting verification requests from Pages that represent celebrities, public figures, sports teams, media and entertainment.” – Facebook
This explains why Snaptu, a developer, isn’t verified, while Young Chizz, an entertainer, is.
Unfortunately, this means no small business is going to earn verification on Facebook. It’s limited to just pages that are representing, well, basically just anyone who might show up on TV.
If you were hoping that the situation on Twitter was a little less hopeless, well, you might want to think again. Before I get into numbers, take a look at what Twitter says about verification:
- “Twitter verifies accounts on an ongoing basis to make it easier for users to find who they’re looking for. We concentrate on highly sought users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business and other key interest areas.” – Twitter
There’s one ray of hope here, and that’s the listing of “business” and the open-ended key interest areas. So, your small business might be able to obtain verified status. So, let’s look at the numbers.
Again turning to Fan Page List, we can look at Twitter followers. The top three verified accounts are also the top three accounts, period; Katy Perry at 69 million followers, Justin Bieber at 63 million, and Barack Obama at 58 million. Reasonable enough.
What about popular accounts that aren’t verified? We have Sockamillion, an account for the cat owned by Jason Scott, a computer historian. It has 1.35 million followers and, being a cat, is not verified. You also have @Lord_Voldemort7, a parody account based on Harry Potter, with 2.1 million followers and no verification. Being a parody of a fictional person, it is of course not verified.
Those make sense. Now let’s look at the other end of the spectrum; accounts that have verification but virtually no followers. HuffPo wrote a post about this a while back, so I’m going to check on these accounts and see where they are today.
Formerly bottom of the list, the band Seven Foot Wave had 4 followers at the time of the study. Today, they still have verification, and they’re up to a whopping 1,329 followers. Hip hop artists Da Backwudz – who haven’t tweeted since 2011, and have only tweeted 8 times total – have 158 followers and verification.
Perhaps one of the more baffling instances of verification is the @HerbalArgentina account, which has 454 followers and a grand total of one tweet. They have no profile picture, no profile information, and nothing more than a casual mention in HuffPo to account for having any followers at all.
One account that formerly had verification at a low number was @yahoomaps, which at the time of the study had 40 followers and no tweets. Today, they have 111 followers and… no tweets. However, their verification was removed.
So, overall, Twitter is a much more hopeful place for earning verification, so long as you’re firmly within the entertainment sector. Bands and businesses earn verification easier than others, while personal entities, journalists and entrepreneurs have a harder time.
Overall, I suppose this means that Facebook verification is a more exclusive, and thus more meaningful, status to seek out. Twitter kind of shoots itself in the foot by verifying accounts that are inactive, empty and worthless. It begs the question, though; were those accounts active at one point, or did Twitter verify them for no reason? The modern verification process requires input from the account owner, which wouldn’t happen with an inactive account. It’s simply baffling.