Understanding Twitter Verification in 2020

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If you’re active on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed a blue checkmark associated with various accounts. If you’re a brand, business or personality, you might be wondering how you can get that verification status as well. Being verified on Twitter is somewhat of a status symbol as it indicates that a profile is authentic.

Verification can help build credibility, but it is not the only way for brands, businesses and influencers to build a trustworthy presence on Twitter. Public applications for verification are currently closed, but read on to learn more about how you can build a credible presence on Twitter—with or without a blue checkmark.

The significance of Twitter verification

Before we go any farther, let’s recap on the significance of Twitter verification.

The coveted blue verification badge that appears on Twitter profiles lets people know that the account is of public interest and, most importantly, authentic. Any account that is verified appears with the blue checkmark next to the username both on their profile and in search results, and always appears in the same place.

Twitter is the only entity that can provide verification badges. So any account that tries to use an image of the verification badge in their profile or background photos or implies they are verified without authentication from Twitter can face suspension from the platform.

Let’s reiterate this again: accounts to be verified are determined to be of public interest and authentic. Generally, this includes user accounts in the following interest areas:

  • Music
  • Acting
  • Fashion
  • Government and politics
  • Religion
  • Journalism and media
  • Sports
  • Media
  • Business

A verified badge does not imply an endorsement by Twitter.

A brief history of Twitter verification

For a while, anyone could send in an application to be considered for Twitter verification. The person would then be approved if they met the verification requirements.

At the end of 2017, Twitter decided to work on a new verification program to improve the overall process and ensure verified accounts met their new guidelines. As part of this effort, Twitter put a pause on accepting public submissions for profile verification.

In May 2018, Twitter verified politicians who appeared on general election ballots and introduced US election labels to indicate in which race politicians were running.

But marketers are still wondering, will Twitter open up public applications for verification again and if so, when? What exactly can you do at the moment if you are looking to build your brand credibility on Twitter?

The future of Twitter verification and what to expect

At this point, there’s no expected date for when Twitter will start accepting public applications for verification again.

Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter’s product lead, stated in 2018 that their top priority at that moment was to serve the public conversation ; not updating their verification program. Since then, Twitter has continued to work on a variety of efforts around reducing misinformation key topics, outlined below.

Where Twitter has focused its verification efforts

Election integrity

In 2016, Twitter saw the need to enhance their election integrity work. They recognized that election integrity needed to be a focus, not only during an election year, but continuously.

As part of these ongoing efforts, Twitter proactively verified all candidates running in 2020 congressional and gubernatorial party primaries. One of Twitter’s stated goals is to protect civic integrity. Verification plays an important role in finding authentic conversations on Twitter, particularly in the wake of Twitter’s recent move to ban political ads.

Health experts

As a result of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, Twitter sought to verify accounts that were providing credible information. Working with health experts, Twitter worked to identify those Twitter users, who must have an email address associated with an authoritative institution or organization. Their bios must also include the name of their institution or organization to be verified.

In fact, Twitter has created a large resource surrounding COVID-19, outlining how they are helping people find helpful or relevant information, protecting the public conversation, partnering with organizations and public engagement, and empowering research of COVID-19 on Twitter.

So whenever a user is searching for #Coronavirus, a #KnowTheFacts prompt appears at the top of the search result. Twitter specifically put this in place for the public to “access credible information, especially when it comes to public health.”

Any Tweet that goes against these guidelines and provides misleading content, encourages fake or ineffective treatments or denies expert guidance will be removed.

New account labels in 2020

In August 2020, Twitter announced that as part of their efforts to provide people with more context behind the information they see on the platform, they would expand the types of political accounts they label.

In the announcement, the Twitter Support Team wrote:

“We will add new labels to the following categories of Twitter accounts:

  1. Accounts of key government officials, including foreign ministers, institutional entities, ambassadors, official spokespeople, and key diplomatic leaders. At this time, our focus is on senior officials and entities who are the official voice of the state abroad
  2. Accounts belonging to state-affiliated media entities, their editors-in-chief, and/or their senior staff.”

While these labels are not the same thing as verifications, they are an important measure in helping the public make informed decisions about the content they see and the sources behind accounts they follow on Twitter.

Collectively, these initiatives show Twitter’s investment in the public conversation and demonstrate that Twitter still sees value in verification. However, brands can look at their Twitter presence as a whole for ways to build credibility rather than relying on verification as their only means.

How to create a credible presence on Twitter

Even if verification isn’t available, you can still create a highly credible presence on Twitter by investing some time and attention into your profile. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

1. Optimize your profile

Your imagery and branding. Optimize your profile by updating your picture and background image with relevant, high-quality images. Use either a professional photo of yourself or a custom logo of your brand or business that stands out and represents your brand or business.

Your Twitter handle. Make sure your Twitter handle name is unique to you or your brand. Whatever username you choose, make sure it’s the same across all your social media networks for consistency.

Your Twitter bio. Your bio is a crucial field to keep up to date on Twitter. This should clearly state the purpose of your profile or your brand’s mission or services.

Your contact information. Twitter also requires users to set their specific location and add a confirmed phone number. Don’t worry, your phone number won’t be public. You’ll also need to update your website or blog URL so users can access your work. How else are you going to get traffic from Twitter to your site?

Your Tweets. Of course, you’re looking to build brand awareness and authenticity with your target audience. Tweet regularly, whether you’re posting original content or engaging with your audience.

Look at Sprout Social’s Twitter profile, for example. It fulfills all the requirements mentioned above including custom imagery that’s relevant to the brand, a bio that clearly explains the brand’s purpose, a location, and a website URL.

Here's an example of a complete Twitter profile, suitable for verification.

2. Be active

As mentioned earlier, look how your Twitter profile can serve public conversations. Add your value and voice on the platform by being active and engaging with your audience. And this isn’t just limited to regularly sharing content and engaging Tweets.

Here’s the top three actions you should take to create an active Twitter presence:

  • Keep the conversation going and respond to social mentions. Whether or not they @mention you, you want to be on top of those conversations around your brand.
  • Utilizing a Twitter dashboard allows you to better understand your followers, what content resonates with them, when they’re most active and much more. Aggregated analytics allows you to take a deeper dive into metrics and understand what’s working in your Twitter strategy as well.
  • To understand what time your audience is most active, it’s good to know the best time to post on Twitter. This is a general overview so it may vary slightly based on your audience, but it provides a great starting point.

 

sprout heatmap showing best times to post on twitter

Fortunately, these interactions not only increase your relevance, they’re also great ways to increase your brand presence on Twitter as well. Being active in conversations on the platform will help you drive more engagement, increase visibility and possibly gain new followers as well.

3. Connect with other profiles

Credibility could be further established by connecting with other major profiles. In a sense, you’ll show your credibility or authority in a subject by associating with these major profiles.

For instance, if you’ve written a piece for a major publication, share those articles in your Tweets, and mention that you’ve been featured in those publications in your bio. Or, if you work for a university, hospital or other major organization, tag your company in your bio.

Author Gillian McAllister interacts with other verified Twitter accounts

Conclusion

If you have been coveting a blue checkmark on your Twitter profile, you will have to wait for Twitter to reopen public applications for verification. But there’s no need to wait to create an authentic, engaging Twitter presence in the meantime. Until Twitter revamps its verification program, read on to see how you can still build a solid Twitter strategy for your brand.





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