Are you a celebrity, a public figure or a brand? If so, you may be eligible to apply for the coveted blue check that tells the world that you’re approved by Instagram.
Prepare yourself for disappointment though, these things are proving harder to get than a close look at Donald Trump’s toupee.
How to get verified on Instagram has long been a mystery. There are rumours. Whispers of dodgy dealings and cloak-and-dagger black market exchanges.
Even among big brands and celebrities, this sought after symbol was extremely rare. There was no method, no way to request it, you had to know a guy who knows a guy that works for Instagram.
Those “guys” were making anywhere between $1000 and $15,000 per tick.
To the detriment of many of its enterprising employees, Instagram has now taken the verification process out of the realms of shadow and secrecy.
This is great news for us common folk that don’t have the cash or connections to procure a blue tick unofficially.
So what exactly is a verified badge, what benefits does it promise and how do you get your hands on one? Read on to find out.
What is a verified badge?
A verified badge is a little blue check that shows up next to your account name. It’s visible during the search and also on your profile:
If you have a blue check, it means that Instagram has checked you out to make sure that you are who you say you are.
One of the major reasons this system has been introduced is to increase trust and reduce the number of imposters on the platform.
Anyone can request to be verified. It’s not that difficult to do and it’s completely free. I will talk you through the application process step-by-step below. But first, let’s take a quick look at the benefits of being verified.
The benefits of being verified.
Blue check holders get priority in the search. This is huge because it increases your visibility and therefore has a positive effect on your engagement. You also get access to special features.
Exclusivity and status. The blue symbol can increase your credibility and make your business appear more legitimate. This encourages more people to trust your brand.
Verified accounts are also likely to attract high-level influencers, meaning you’ll have no problem setting up beneficial collaborations and therefore reaching a wider audience.
Discouraging copycats. Once your account is authenticated, it becomes extremely difficult for someone to impersonate you. Fake accounts can severely damage your reputation, so by getting verified, you’ll also get peace of mind.
How to apply for Instagram verification.
1. Make sure you’re logged in to the account you want the badge for. Then navigate to the Settings menu and select the option Request Verification:
2. Prove you’re you.
You’ll need to supply government-issued identity documents. That means a passport, driver’s licence or national ID card. Don’t panic if you don’t have one, you can also submit utility bills or tax documents.The documents you supply are for Instagram’s eyes only and won’t be visible on your account.
3. Cross your fingers and hope for the best.
Unless you’re a person of public interest, celebrity or global brand you can expect to see the following message:
Instagram guidelines state that in order to qualify, your account must meet the following 4 requirements:
Authenticity – Your account should represent a real person or a registered business.
Uniqueness – Only one account per person or business can be approved. Your account needs to be the only one that represents you or your business.
Completeness – You’ll need a public account with a full bio and a profile photo. You will also need at least one post. Your account must also be free from “add me” links to other social media services. So make sure you get rid of anything like that before you apply.
Notability – This refers to how well-known you are, and more specifically, to how well searched you are as a person, brand, or entity. This is the hardest condition to meet, and only a select few will make the cut.
Paid or promotional content doesn’t count, and if you’re featured in multiple news stories, it’s likely that your account will be scrutinised more closely.
Applying is the easy part. Making sure you’re eligible is a bit more difficult. But don’t panic, here are some handy tips and tricks to help you maximize your chances of being verified.
Obviously, having a lot of Instagram followers is going to help you out massively when it comes to getting verified. But as well as having the numbers, you also need the activity.
Focus on growing an active Instagram audience that engages with your posts. You can increase your engagement by asking more questions, posting more polls, and just generally talking to your audience more. It’s also a good idea to use all of Instagram’s features.
Surprisingly, building a following on another social media channel can also help you to get approved. The Stock Room had fewer than 400 Instagram followers when they got verified.
What they did have was a decent (though not excessive) amount of YouTube views.
So, if you have a large following on YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook you could be in with a chance.
Hashtags are powerful tools that can help you reach a targeted audience. They work equally well on Twitter as well as Instagram. If you use them strategically, you can increase engagement and build trust and awareness in your brand.
As a general rule, your hashtags should be short, simple and memorable. If you’re a business, your hashtags should also be branded. Experiment with using slogans and keywords as hashtags too.
Use social media analytics tools like the one above to maximize your hashtag success.
Participating in popular hashtags can also greatly increase your visibility. The holiday season is a particularly good time to do this. Look for popular Thanksgiving and Christmas hashtags and capitalise on them by joining the conversation.
As I hinted at above, having a substantial social media following on a channel other than Instagram can, in some cases, help you to get verified.
It, therefore, makes sense to promote your other social channels on Instagram. This allows your Instagram followers and/or people who discover you on Instagram to choose how to follow you.
If you were a chef, for example, you might use your Instagram account to encourage people to sign up to your YouTube channel, where they can see you make each recipe from scratch.
Growing your popularity on 2 or 3 social media channels makes you seem more important and more relevant, which means you’re much more likely to be verified.
In fact, your whole online presence (Including your blog and your site) should be geared towards promoting you or your brand. Ideally, everything should link together and represent you or your business in a coherent and consistent way.
Do you know when your audience is most active on Instagram? You definitely should!
Too many people focus on posting like crazy without thinking about when is the best time to post their content.
For example, if your posting on a Sunday, you’re probably wasting your time, as this is the worst possible time to post on Instagram.
Thursday is the best day. With Wednesdays and Fridays being decent too.
While there are some general guidelines as to when is the best time to post, to really generate the most engagement you need to look within your niche and find out when your specific target audience is most active.
Monitoring audience activity and timing your post accordingly can increase your engagement which will help increase your following and therefore also raise your chances of being accepted.
5. Get an impersonator.
One of the major reasons for introducing the verification system in the first place is to reduce the possibility of online impersonation.
On their official verification page, Instagram stresses over and over again that one of their main concerns is the “high likelihood of being impersonated”.
Therefore, it stands to reason that you have a greater chance of being accepted if you can prove that there’s a high possibility of you being impersonated.
It’s actually helpful if your profile isn’t the first one that comes up when someone searches for you on Instagram. But you should still make sure that your name, email and a link to your site are listed on your profile.
It’s weird, and it certainly seems counterproductive. But keeping a low profile increases your risk of being impersonated in Instagram’s eyes and can, therefore, help you get precious brownie points when it comes to being verified.
Now you know everything there is to know about how to get verified on Instagram. Follow the tips above, prepare your account, and make sure you give yourself the best possible chance before you apply.