On Instagram, you’ve probably seen the little blue tick next to a verified account’s name. This tick is actually a badge, which means Instagram have checked and confirmed this account is authentic.
It’s generally used for famous people or brands who are more susceptible to imposters creating accounts pretending to be them. It helps to protect those people and businesses, but also makes it easier for users to feel confident they are following who they think they are.
So, as a brand, how can you earn a verified badge to help make sure your followers and potential customers know your posts are definitely coming from you?
Firstly, it’s important to know you can’t buy a verified badge (in theory, although an article on Mashable last year uncovered a black market trade in little blue badges).
The simple reason why Instagram don’t want badges to be purchasable is because it’s an important part of how they maintain authenticity in their community. So, while brands may be able to buy followers or even bots to generate engagement, whenever you see the blue badge you know it has been earned, not bought.
But even though you can’t buy a badge (and you can’t even apply to Instagram to be considered for one) that doesn’t mean your brand is powerless to earn verification.
There are many articles online giving advice on how to earn the verified badge, and the most honest ones recognize how difficult it can be (including a Hootsuite blog that acknowledges that ‘it’s nearly impossible to get verified on Instagram’).
And while even the very best advice doesn’t guarantee success (and certainly doesn’t guarantee instant results), there are certain steps that could increase your chances.
One especially interesting article on the topic was by Shopify, who amazingly earned a verified badge for their @stockroom_shopify account despite having fewer than 400 followers and having been inactive on the account for several months.
Their theory for what earned them the tick (and it’s worth saying that no one can know for certain) was the fact they had built a strong following on other social media platforms before joining Instagram – prompting Instagram to make sure this large audience was able to find the right account when they searched for them on Insta.
Also, they suggest something which is much trickier to pull off – positioning your brand as one that is at risk of impersonation, and therefore meeting Instagram’s only real criteria for a badge.
Shopify’s suggestion (which is not suitable for everyone) is to choose an account name and identity that would not necessarily come up as the first result when searching for your brand, claiming ‘it is beneficial to keep a low profile, and therefore be at risk of getting impersonated, if you want to be verified’.
As attractive as the verified badge will be to any brand – not to mention how reassuring it will be for your customers – you shouldn’t think of it as the only way to demonstrate your authenticity.
There are several small, quick and simple things you can do that will help your account immediately feel more authentic to Instagram users. From obvious ideas like linking to your Instagram from your website or verified accounts on other social media platforms, to creating content that causes you to show up more in the ‘Explore’ feature, brands can easily build a ‘tickless’ sense of verification.
Another great bit of advice, from that ‘verification is impossible’ Hootsuite blog, is to demonstrate your expertise in Instagram through your account. By taking advantage of the latest features (including the less obvious ones, such as archiving posts) you can reassure customers simply by providing them with the most impressive and engaging Instagram experience.