Verification, regardless of network, is always a benefit to your profile. It shows people two things; you are who you claim to be, and you’re in it to win it. Both are equally important.
Verification as identity protection is valuable both because it helps your followers find you and identify you positively, and because it makes you a lot safer when it comes to impersonators. Some businesses, brands, and celebrities have a real problem with imposters trying to steal their fans and monetize them for short-term gain. It can hurt their reputation, and it can lead to worse issues, like identity theft. A scammer using a fake profile for a business, setting up a fake website, can phish for financial information and steal it all day long. Illegal, yes, but hard to police and prevent. Generally someone has to fall victim before the authorities catch on.
As for the value of verification outside of protection, well. That little check mark proves to anyone watching that you care about your profile. It’s a measure of trust, so people can see that you’re putting the effort into meet verification requirements. It’s also an implicit statement from the site admins that you’re worth the attention. They don’t verify just anyone, right?
It’s similar to the interview concept I’ve talked about before. If you’re giving an interview, you must be someone worth listening to, because why else would someone consent to the interview? At the same time, if you’re being interviewed, you must have valuable opinions, because why else would someone come to you for an interview? Two people with no inherent value can provide the illusion of value by giving an interview to the other.
Social verification is like that, except one party is an actual authority – the social media site itself. Verification itself might not be quite as valuable as most people think – you can see some extreme examples here – but it’s still worth seeking out if you can.
YouTube Verification Requirements
Here’s the tricky thing with YouTube: verification is not done through YouTube itself. Verification on YouTube just means that your account has been linked to an account on Google+ that itself has been verified.
The strange part is, wasn’t YouTube supposed to be removing Google+ integration? The forced linkage was an ongoing project by Google for several years, as a way to push people to use Google+, but it was largely rejected as much as possible. They announced they were splitting the two all the way back in July of 2015.
Now, if you checked the first link up above, you may have noticed that on networks like Facebook and Twitter, people can get their accounts verified even if they only have a couple hundred followers. That’s not true of YouTube, unfortunately. The big YT only even considers you for verification if you have over 100,000 subscribers. At least, most of the time. Specifically, they say “if your channel has fewer than 100,000 subscribers, it’s usually not eligible for a verification badge.”
What that basically means is that some brands and entities can be verified even if they don’t have that many subscribers, but it’s on a case by case basis. If you’re a minor celebrity with minimal impact and only 90,000 subscribers, you’ll probably have to wait. If Barack Obama launched a YouTube channel, he would likely be verified immediately, before his first subscriber. It all comes down to how important it is that people know you are who you claim to be – or rather, how much damage could be done if an imposter created an account claiming to be you.
YouTube verification disappears if you change your channel name, which makes sense; you can’t get verification and then claim to be someone else, it defeats the whole purpose of verification. That said, if you do change your name for a legitimate reason, such as a change in branding or a company buy-out, you can be verified again, typically after a manual review. Essentially, they want to make sure you didn’t change your name for some exploitive purpose before they give you back the check.
So, to recap, you need 100,000 subscribers on YouTube and you need Google+ verification. What, then, goes into getting verified on Google+?
Getting the Google+ Check
Unfortunately, verification on Google+ isn’t something you can just do. Getting the “verified name” badge, specifically, requires you to meet several requirements. You need to have over 20,000 followers, which should be relatively easy if you have five times that many on YouTube. You need to be popular in your field, though, which means you might need a much greater number. If the average popular account in your niche has 500,000 followers, you need to be up there with the big dogs.
You also need to meet the various usage requirements. You can’t post spam or use spammy methods to grow your circles. You can’t share anything illegal and you can’t have been suspended or banned from the platform before. You need to avoid anything that could be considered black hat. Normally, black hat techniques can be used to get you a head start, but that’s for other platforms. When you’re operating on Google’s home turf, you can’t afford to try to slip one under their noses.
You also need to actively use Google+. You need to post regularly, you need to engage with user comments, and you need to generally prove that you’re in it to use the site, not just using the site as a means to an end. You’re free to more or less abandon it once you’re verified – you won’t lose the check – but at that point you’ve actually built a following so you might as well keep it going.
If possible, you should also have a brand website, that you link to and verify with Google+ and with Google Webmaster Tools, so Google knows you are who you claim to be. Adding in AdSense on top of this – and using the same AdSense account between the website and your YouTube account – helps to make this link that much more explicit. Every additional bit of casual verification between your site, your social profiles, and your brand pages is beneficial.
The webmaster tools verification, by the way, is a process Google uses to verify a different aspect of your Google+ profile. Specifically, that part is the website link. It can have its own little checkmark, making Google+ the only social network I know of that has two possible verification checks. That’s on top of their “verification” which is just “confirming your email is real and actually exists.” This is part of what makes Google+ verification a complicated topic.
Once upon a time, there was an actual link you could click to request verification. That link was removed some time back in 2013, and hasn’t been seen since. These days, there’s no way you can actually request verification, and I mean no way. I’m not talking about the soft methods like Twitter’s “send a DM to X account, they can help.” I mean a real lack of any contact you can use.
There are two primary roadblocks to verification on YouTube: the 20,000 circles on Google+ level and the 100,000 subscribers on YouTube. Here are some tips for growing on both platforms.
Google+: Reaching 20,000 Followers
I’m not going to give you the basic tips, like making sure your profile is filled out, you have a high quality cover photo, or you actively use the site. I’m assuming here that if you’re not doing at least that much, you’re never going to get verified. There’s a certain minimum amount of effort you need to put in to even be worth the attention, and that’s where it lies.
Categorize your circles into circle lists. These lists can be accounts you follow centered around specific interests or keywords. Make sure to spend some time each day or each week browsing each of them, so you can curate some content from each. This helps you keep a well-rounded feed of content you curate and reblog. You do this by using circle labels. Labels are private, too, so no one has to know what circle they’re in and no one can see how you have things organized unless you show them.
Don’t be afraid to engage with more users and more communities. Activity is hugely important for reaching more users, but you also need to expose yourself to more users. If you’re spending most of your time interacting with a closed group of 1,000 people, you’re not giving yourself much growth potential. Instead, you should strive to tap into much larger communities, groups of people who haven’t seen your posts over and over. Large communities, large circles, allow you to reach more people who may be attracted to your content.
Focus on the appropriate means of curating and timing your posts. There are two aspects to this. The first is social media timing. Apps like Timing+ work for Google+ to figure out when your audience is active, and when you should be posting to reach them. It also works in reverse; when are your influencers active, and when should you be posting to engage with them if you want their attention?
The other part is the curation scheme. I generally prefer the Pareto scheme, or the 80-20 rule. Figure that for every 10 posts you make, 8 of them should be genuinely valuable and brand-agnostic. They aren’t your posts, they aren’t sales-focused, they aren’t you sharing your YouTube videos. They’re posts you – or your brand persona, anyways – find interesting in some way. They’re posts you share because you know your audience will like them. That leaves just 2 of 10 posts to share your own content or your own videos.
There’s a lot more to good Google+ marketing, but you’re not in it to be a million-follower Google+ user. You’re in it to reach the threshold you need to get YouTube verification, and YouTube verification has a much taller order.
Growing on YouTube
Again, you need to have the basics down, or you shouldn’t be thinking about verification. If you don’t have high quality content produced on a schedule to fill slots each week, you’re not meeting that minimum threshold. If you don’t have channel art, subscriptions, playlists, and all the rest filled out, you’re again not meeting that bar.
I would actually go one step further and say if you don’t have a custom channel URL yet, you shouldn’t be turning your sights to verification. Both require a certain minimum number of subscribers, but one is much lower. Verification is something the big players get.
Now, I’m not going to tell you to post a video every day, though if you can, you certainly should. Just make sure that you’re posting videos on a consistent schedule you can keep up. Make a backlog of content if you have to, so you don’t miss days or weeks in your schedule.
Ideally, you should focus on making at least 1-2 videos per month that are 100% evergreen content. These are the videos people keep coming back to, time and time again. The videos that have some amusing quality that makes people want to show them to their friends. The videos that can be resources for years to come. Even tutorials can spoil over time; you need truly timeless content.
One thing you should try to do is add the video endcap call to action. These are the post-video segments that show off other things on your channel, other videos and other actions the user can take. You can use annotation links to get people to like and subscribe from the video player itself, and thumbnails-within-videos to get them to go from one video to the next. Ideally, everything will be in a playlist too, so if they passively fail to click on anything, they will be taken to the next video automatically.
Above all, study your community and figure out specifically what it is they like most about your channel, your videos, and your brand. Provide them more of that, so they’re always able to find more of what they want, and can share what they like with others they know like the same things. Tailoring your content and your brand for your audience is better than trying to force an audience that isn’t as large as it could be. Sell yourself out for the big times.