As far as anyone can tell, there is no minimum number of followers necessary to earn Twitter verification. Verification is handed out to a wide range of accounts for a number of different reasons, and many accounts that seem like they should be verified, well, aren’t.
What Twitter Says
Twitter has an entire page on verification. They explain that the only sign of verification is the blue checkmark; anyone claiming to offer something else is lying. They explain that they verify accounts in order to “establish authenticity of identities of key individuals and brands” on Twitter. What does that mean?
Well, what kind of accounts are verified? Twitter says they focus on “highly sought users” in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and “other key interest areas.” This is a broad range of topics, but it also leaves a lot uncovered. Anyone running a parody account like the recent Emo Kylo Ren and such from Star Wars, they can’t earn verification. Anyone running an account for an entity they don’t control can’t be verified. Humor accounts can’t be verified, unless they’re the personal account of a well-known humor writer or brand, like Buzzfeed’s employees or Cracked.com.
There’s one little line in this part of the help section that is worth noting. “Note, verification does not factor in follower count or tweet count.”
The next section of the help section reiterates that they do not accept requests for verification from the general public. Then they explain in another section that, no, you can’t submit a request to be verified. Also, “Please note that follower count is not a factor in determining whether an account meets our criteria for verification.”
Getting a hint here? Twitter is pretty strongly telling everyone that your follower count doesn’t matter.
In fact, let’s take a look at a few verified accounts and see what their follower count is today.
- @lowtheband is an account for the band Low and has 14,000 followers. That’s a reasonably respectable number, at least.
- @joncruztuck is an account for a UFC fighter from Guam and has 3,000 followers. Okay, but he’s a professional in his sport, that explains verification.
- @jobysanchez is another MMA fighter, from New Mexico. He’s been using Twitter since 2012 and only has 1,136 followers as of this writing.
- @whoopasswillie is yet another UFC fighter but he only has 765 followers, but has verification. It looks like one sure-fire way to get verified is register with the UFC, eh?
- @balzani_f is an Italian politician and has 1,200 followers. This helps prove at least that you don’t have to be American, or even post in English, to earn verification.
- @ladieslovefresh is a rapper with 1,400 followers, which just goes to show that even low-following musicians can earn verification.
- @sevenfootwave is a band from California that was once the lowest-followed verified account, at 4 followers. Today, they have over 7,500.
- @angstromhoot is an editor for a website and has 2,300 followers.
- @bobhwnyc is a reporter for WNYC and has 520 followers. He also hasn’t tweeted since 2013, yet still retains verification.
- @levantatetv is… I don’t know. Presumably an actor or athlete of some sort. His profile is empty and he has 559 followers. He has also never tweeted.
The lowest number historically required to get verification on Twitter is 4, and the current lowest I’ve been able to find is under 600. I’m sure if you dig around you can find someone with less, as well.
When a user is verified, they receive a direct message from Twitter’s official, verified @verified account. That account will follow them and send some instructions for filling out the paperwork necessary to be verified. The paperwork is a short test and your phone number, mostly.
A relic of this process is the fact that @verified does not then unfollow verified accounts. That means you can check the 164,000-person-long list of people @verified follows to see who has earned verification. You’ll see a lot of accounts with not a lot of following, like those listed above.
If you’re interested in verification, I’ve written about it before. That post has my best tips for getting verified, though these days, there’s not a lot you can actually do.
Ignore Fan Campaigns
One thing that never works is the idea of a fan campaign. You can’t get your fans to show support to get you verification. There’s no phone number to call, no account to tweet, not email to send. You could start up a change.org petition, but all that would do is make the president chuckle a little before ignoring it entirely.
Well, actually, knowing Obama and Twitter, they would probably find it funny to verify the first person who got enough signatures to actually reach the level required to receive a response. Of course, you don’t want to end up looking like this guy when you try; you’ll just end up making a fool of yourself.
There’s a lot of talk that goes into verification, from marketers looking to figure out the system so they can abuse it, from people with egos bigger than the moon but a similar population in their following list, and others. The reality is that there are essentially two ways to get verified.
The first way is to be a media entity of some sort. Musicians, fighters, news broadcasters, reporters, even high profile writers all get their verification more or less without issue. Businesses have it harder; they need to be a large and clearly recognizable brand. Politicians get it, even no-name politicians from Italy. Fashion designers, prominent preachers, athletes; they all get it.
All of this, I say, can be boiled down to being part of the media. At the end of the day, these people all appear on television in some form or another, or are the agency responsible for broadcasting that television. So, if you want to be part of this circuit, start doing TV interviews. Sooner or later someone at Twitter will notice and put your name in for verification.
The second way to be verified is to have the hookup with an insider at Twitter. In that article I wrote before, I mentioned cases where people interviewing or talking to Biz Stone got verification, either for themselves or for some part of their crew. Buzzfeed automatically has verification for most of their high-level employees, if those employees want it.
Believe it or not, Twitter isn’t a completely impartial edifice of technology. They’re a brand run by people, and those people have opinions. That’s why Milo was torn down for taking part in a movement often labeled a hate group. It’s also why a lot of people who happen to be friends with Twitter execs end up with verification sooner or later. Well, that, and the fact that to be friends with a Twitter exec and to have an interest in verification probably means you’re the type of person who deserves it anyways.
One interesting thing you can do is message a random selection of 100 or so verified accounts and ask them what they did to earn verification. I guarantee you that 90 out of those 100 will send you a reply – if they reply, that is – along the lines of “I don’t know, they just sent me an email.”
That’s how Twitter works. There’s nothing you can do to flag yourself for verification. There’s no action you can take, no person you can follow, no follower count you can reach, to trip a flag that says you can be verified. You just have to be an entity in one of the circles Twitter chooses to verify, and you have to be spotted.
To Wait or Not To Wait
One bit of advice I see from time to time stems from how Twitter and Facebook, in their verification FAQs, tend to list of industries that they verify in. The problem is, they use language like “currently, we only verify from this list of industries.” This gives people hope that some day Twitter will expand that list of industries to include theirs.
To this I say: don’t hold your breath. These verification lists have stayed the same for years, more or less as long as verification has existed. It’s just a way for Twitter and Facebook and all the other sites to tell people who are “nobodies” that they won’t be getting verification.
What Do You Get and Why Should You Care?
Verification is an interesting beast. On Twitter, there are actual, tangible benefits to being verified. Sort of. There are three things you get from verification.
- Access to Twitter analytics. Native analytics through Twitter comes with verification, but that’s hardly special. It also comes along with any account that is allowed to become an advertiser. Plus, even if you don’t get it through Twitter, you can get analytics through third party apps all around the web.
- Trust. Verification is a sign of trust, but I feel that it’s somewhat undermined by how some high profile figures can’t get it and how many virtually-valueless accounts can. Sure, one small broadcasting area might be affected if a local news station is impersonated, but what about people who are public figures but don’t fit in the right industry to be verified? Those people can also suffer, and Twitter has no recourse for them.
- Cyclical validation. When people see the verification check, they assume your account is valuable and that you’re an important person. The reality is, you might just be any other dude using Twitter, and they just decided you should have the checkmark for some reason. There’s a cycle of positive reinforcement without much actual value to power it.
Here’s the thing: wanting verification, and believing you deserve verification, just means you probably shouldn’t be verified. Just look at who else shares your views. Who are these people? Who cares about any of them?
Twitter verification is just bizarre. The people who actually earn it and deserve it are the people who already have such sizable followings that it’s not valuable to them. The people who really want it but haven’t earned it generally don’t deserve it. The people who have it but haven’t earned it just dilute the value of the whole thing. I mean, do I even want verification if I’m amongst the illustrious members of that list of weird, half-inactive accounts I listed at the start?
There’s also the fact that you can fast-track verification for cash. Sort of. You’re not bribing Twitter execs, though. You’re just spending a lot of money on ads. See, when you spend enough money on ads — $5,000+ per month – you end up with a dedicated account manager for your account. These account managers can then push through a verification request for you, because anything that helps out a high-spending advertiser helps them stick with Twitter.
At the end of the day, verification is largely valueless, except for the value other Twitter users give it. If you’re in a position to earn it, it’s minimal compared to the value you get from other marketing sources. If you’re in a position to want it, and possibly even get it, but don’t have it? Well, there are better things you can be doing with your time.
The moral of the story, as far as I can tell, is pretty simple. Just be a prominent public figure and use Twitter appropriately. Sooner or later, if you’re popular and valuable, Twitter will take notice and verify you. Any other way to fast-track it either involves a lot of money that would be better spent elsewhere, or a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth in impotent rage.
People put a lot more weight and value on verification than it probably deserves. Sure, it’s nice to see, and it’s nice to be able to say you’re verified, but has any customer ever not purchased from you because you were missing a checkmark on your social profile? More importantly, has any customer ever purchased because of it? I’d venture to guess no.
What do you think? Are you trying to become Twitter verified? Let us know in the comments!