Remember when having a verified account on social media was a dream for most influencers and creators, and a “must-have” for brands to testify their authenticity? Well, this dream now has a price and can be purchased by anyone on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Since it first appeared on Twitter in 2009, the blue mark aims to testify to the authenticity of notable business accounts and public figures. First on Twitter and followed by Instagram in 2014, this stamp used to be a cost-free process for every account that accomplished specific requirements, one of which relating to relevant content creation.
“Used to be”, in the past, because more and more it seems we are entering a New Era for verified accounts on social media. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into this change and explain a little more about what you can expect moving forward.
What’s the story behind the verified accounts?
As we mentioned, it all started on Twitter in 2009, after a legal fight between Twitter and the baseball legend Tony La Russa. The whole situation involved another user account trying to impersonate Tony in bluebird land and at the time, there was no easy and effective way to distinguish between real people and fake accounts. As a response to this lawsuit, Twitter unveiled the verification to help identify impostors.
Following the same steps, Instagram launched the blue mark in 2014, right after achieving 300 million users worldwide and becoming bigger than Twitter. A nudge to Twitter, perhaps?! We can’t tell precisely, but the goal was the same: improve authenticity and keep Instagram free from fake and spammy accounts.
As you could see, the seal stamp on social media had only one purpose since day one, and it was all about authenticity – an often-claimed word in the digital world. But now things are about to change, apparently.
The first sign of change appeared in late 2022, after a very controversial year on Twitter. To refresh your memory very briefly, in November of that year, right after becoming the new Twitter CEO, Elon Musk rolled out the first version of Twitter Blue, its premium subscription service that allows any user to purchase the blue stamp for only $8 per month.
The whole thing was a little chaotic when a lot of fake accounts start impersonating brands and relevant identities in the app. So, it became clear very quickly that Twitter wasn’t ready to start selling the blue stamp, and Elon Musk took a step back and “killed” Twitter Blue just a few hours after launching it. But, just long enough to establish better (and solid) criteria to avoid chaos, and re-launched it a month later.
Now, it’s official: any Twitter account that meets its eligibility criteria will be able to purchase the blue checkmark starting at $8 per month and will become a verified account. And, this time, it looks like Twitter Blue is here to stay: Twitter’s Help Center already refers to the previous criteria (that one based on authenticity) as “legacy” .
And just like dejá-vù, Meta once again followed the same steps and announced the first tests for Meta Verified for Instagram and Facebook, starting at $11.99 per month. At least, they were able to learn from Twitter’s mistakes and are making it available in waves – basically, asking users to subscribe to their waitinglist, instead of allowing everyone to start pursuing it all at once.
And what can we expect from it moving forward?
Since Twitter’s first attempt to charge for the blue stamp flopped, it seems daring to see Twitter (and now Meta!) insisting on this path. But, if we dive deeper, every movement has a reason – and for Twitter Blue and Meta Verified, it’s not any different.
A recent forecast from Magna, a media investment firm from Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Mediabrands, says global advertising growth in 2023 will be restrained – and for social media platforms, advertising is pretty much one of the main sources of revenue.
In addition to that, things for Twitter are even more tumultuous, since the platform already lost many of its top advertisers last year and is desperately trying to make the platform profitable again by testing different approaches. With that in mind, it makes sense to see these two giants trying to find other ways to generate revenue. This time, via subscriptions.
A fun fact is that TikTok remains with the same old verified criteria – the platform that grew the most in 2022 still hasn’t placed its bet on paid verification. Coincidence?! I don’t think so.
Anyway, regardless of the reason that led us into this, we are entering a New Era for social media. It may not seem like it when we briefly talk about it, but we dare to say that things will change a lot after that small (but extremely important) movement.
These are our bets for the near future.
Subscriptions are here to stay
We are already used to streaming services, such as Netflix and HBO Max – we learn to pay to have flexibility on what to watch in the palm of our hands. Having this same mindset regarding social media networks is still new for us, but it seems to be a growing trend.
Starting with Telegram Premium, the newest Telegram subscription service that offers an exclusive experience for users, with additional features and first-hand new feature releases. And, well, if we pay closer attention to Twitter Blue and Meta Verified, both of them also offer an exclusive experience (with exclusive features) for their subscribers, just like Telegram Premium.
Twitter Blue, for example, will include longer tweets of up to 4,000 characters, longer video uploads, prioritized replies in conversations, and other features to improve in-app user experience. Not far from this, Meta Verified promises to increase visibility for its subscribers and exclusive features on Facebook and Instagram.
Another important bargaining chip for Twitter Blue and Meta Verified is security – both of them will increase users’ digital security and account protection if they decide to pay for it. In the GDPR era, this approach fits like a glove.
Authenticity is for later
This one wasn’t too hard to guess, but social media platforms are not rewarding users exclusively based on authenticity anymore. Worse: they are putting a price on it.
It is still early to say, but this can change the whole dynamic we are already used to. On Twitter, for example, tweets with more engagement used to appear at the top of the conversation – now it will cost you only $8 per month to do so.
But if everyone starts paying for it, what will happen, then? Will authenticity come back into the equation? I’m looking forward to seeing this put into practice, not gonna lie.
For brands, it is important to be careful not to fall into this trap – authenticity may no longer be as valuable for Twitter and Meta anymore, but it is still very important to your customer.
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