You’ve probably seen that blue checkmark next to your favorite celebrities’ Instagram username.
This is a verification badge.
Instagram gives these out to celebrities and brands that are at risk of being impersonated, and they are quite the status symbol!
Being verified is kind of like being in a private club…and everyone wants to join. But it’s not that simple. It’s a complicated, secret process, and Instagram does not publish the specific criteria they use to verify profiles.
That being said, it’s not impossible.
At Jumper Media, we work with thousands of businesses, large and small, on their social strategy. We’ve worked with over one-hundred verified clients, so we asked them how they did it. We’ve even helped a few of our own celebrity clients get a blue checkmark themselves. Along the way, we’ve learned a lot, and we wanted to pass that knowledge along
So we wrote down everything we know on the subject and turned it into this epic blog post. In it, you will find answers to questions like:
- What does the blue checkmark mean on Instagram?
- How many followers do you need to get verified on IG?
- Can you submit a request to be verified?
- How do you become a ‘public figure’ on Instagram?
- What are the requirements to get verified on IG?
- If I do get a blue badge, do I get to keep if forever?
- and more…
Now for the good stuff…here’s How to Get Verified on Instagram:
What Does the Blue Checkmark on Instagram Mean?
WARNING: The following may come as a shock…
An Instagram verification badge is not just for looks. It actually serves a real purpose.
There are other very legitimate reasons why almost every social platform has a form of verification.
Famous celebrities and public figures get verified to let the Instagram community know that they are the real owner of their accounts. This isn’t a problem for everyday folk like you and me. No one (to my knowledge) has created a fan page about me or is actively pretending that they are me on social media.
(Please don’t get any ideas people!)
For celebs, it is a different story. Think about fan pages. These can easily be mistaken for the celebrity’s actual profile. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I honestly don’t know why it happens, but big-time celebrities get impersonated a lot on social media.
If you search for “Jennifer Lawrence” on Instagram, you’ll get several results. The first one is an account with over 800,000 followers, but Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t use social media.
There’s a lesson here: a lack of a blue verification badge on a major celebrity’s Instagram account is practically a sure sign that it’s not an official account.
According to Instagram, “Verified badges help people more easily find the celebrities, brands, or public figures’ Instagrams they want to follow.”
In other words, they help distinguish what’s real from what’s fake. If only they had the same thing for fake news!
Other than proving the account owner’s identity, verified accounts can be helpful for businesses in many ways:
1) Brand Credibility
Even outside social media, brand credibility is one of the most important pieces of a good social media marketing strategy. Upon joining social media, you have to do everything you can to protect your credibility, since scams and trolls run rampant. (This is also true for your personal brand.)
One of the most common brand-jacking scams is an account pretending to be a brand, claiming they’ll give away vouchers for the first 10k followers. While online consumers need to be wary of any too-good-to-be-true deals on social media, a verification badge can help to cut down on the confusion.
2) Social Search Presence
As you’ve probably picked up on, people love creating duplicate accounts to pay tribute to their idols, or for brand scamming. One of the most significant benefits of getting verified is that it puts you at the top of search recommendations for related searches.
To see this in action, try searching “Lululemon.” The verified account of Lululemon will always be at the top of related search results. It’s not hard to see how this can be very beneficial for brand marketing, to increase the quality of your overall social media presence.
3) Increase in Reach
if you have a verified account, people will go to the right profile instead of going to fake ones, which helps with increasing your overall reach (which may be divided by fake/fan accounts).
Increase in reach can affect your overall brand performance, and increase your conversion rates.
Recommended read: Instagram Hashtag Research – The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need
How Many Followers Do You Need to Get Verified on IG?
If only it were that simple!
Getting verified is not an automated process. It’s not a feature hidden in the settings. It’s a secretive process that involves actual humans reviewing who should and who shouldn’t be verified.
Even if you figure out how to submit a verification request, you probably won’t get verified unless you have a legitimate reason. You should expect to have a large follower count before Instagram even considers your application, but even if you have tens of thousands of followers that’s probably not enough!
Of course, there’s an exception to every rule. For example, The Stockroom was able to do it with less than 5,000 followers.
We’re not sure how this happened, but if we had to guess it would be because this is a sub-account of Shopify, which is a large public company.
There are plenty of other examples of verified accounts that probably don’t “deserve it.” How did they do it?
Each case is different, but the bottom line is that it used to be a lot easier to get a verification badge. Instagram used to have fewer users. It used to be less popular. Even just a few years ago no one had heard of IG verification, so demand for the checkmarks was much lower.
But that’s not all folks. There used to be a big loophole that let almost anyone get verified overnight.
There used to be a market for verified Instagram accounts. People would get them one way or another, and then sell them to any willing buyer. That person would just change the username and voila! They became verified.
But that doesn’t work anymore.
That’s because Instagram no longer allows verified accounts to change their username and keep the badge. Good move on their part!
That doesn’t mean that verification is temporary. You can theoretically have a verified account forever — as long as you don’t change your username.
Can I Request an Instagram Verification Badge?
According to Instagram, they only verify some public figures, celebrities, and brands. It is currently NOT possible to request or purchase a verified badge…officially.
Facebook owns Instagram, but having a verified badge on Facebook doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a badge on Instagram. If you’re starting to lose hope, don’t give up just yet:
You don’t have to be a celebrity to get the Blue Badge on Instagram.
It can be challenging, but there are some simple strategies you can employ to increase your chances of getting verified on Instagram. We’ll get to that in a bit, but first, we’d like to address another common question people have…
How Can I Become a Public Figure on Instagram?
Being a “public figure” is different than getting verified. Public Figure isn’t really an exclusive distinction at all. Pretty much anyone can do it.
That’s because Public Figure is really just a Business Category, like Restaurants or Clothing Brands.
Recommended read: How to Become Instagram Famous by Working Backwards from 1 Million Followers.
What You Need to Get Verified in 2018
Overall Instagram is interested in having celebrities, big brands, and other “influencers” feel comfortable on their platform, and Verification Badges is one way of doing that.
So when you think about getting verified on Instagram, you should think like Instagram, and become a person they would WANT to verify.
There are real human beings that work for Instagram that manually do the verifying, so there is no “one simple trick” to get verified, but there are ways to increase your odds.
To get a blue checkmark on IG, you will definitely need:
A Good Amount of Followers
This is perhaps one of the most obvious requirements for becoming verified on Instagram. Of course, accounts with just a few thousand have successfully made it through the Instagram verification process, but in general, having a large following makes the process easier.
The challenging part is getting real numbers in a short period of time. A few quick tips:
- Take good pictures and use a theme for your feed. Instagram is all about aesthetics. Influencers gain followers because of their beautiful photos and aesthetically pleasing feeds.
- Take advantage of your insights. One of the most useful new features on Instagram is the ability to access profile insights (as long as you’ve converted your account into a business page). Use this information to plan content that resonates with followers, at times when they’re most active.
- Good content. Try your hardest to always create good content so that gives value to the folks that see it. If you do this well, you might get a feature on the explore page for one (or more) of the hashtags you’re using. Doing this can help you to achieve virality.
- Don’t forget to spend time actively engaging with your followers. Reply to comments, or even just like their comments. Explore relevant hashtags and start conversations with other accounts in your niche or community.
Recommended read: Irresistible IG Theme Ideas You’ll Want to Copy Right This Second
Real Followers and Real Engagement (Likes)
You’ll need to have a good amount of followers if you want to be verified, and they’ll DEFINITELY need to be real followers. Just buying a bunch of fake followers from a Bangladeshi click farm will NOT work.
Some celebrities with millions of followers have been accused of buying their followers. On that note, if there’s anything that Instagram needs in order to get you verified, it’s authentic followers and engagement.
- Real followers
- Real comments/engagements
- Real likes from real people
Fake followers are a HUGE no-no.
But what if you bought fake followers a long time ago? Can you repent for your sins?
Yes, from what we’ve heard Instagram may still give you a badge if you come clean about your past transgressions. It’s pretty easy for them to tell if something is funny with your followers (i.e. 50% of them are from Sri Lanka and you’re a musician in San Diego) so your best bet is being honest with them if you decide to go through with the process.
A Strong Social Media Presence outside of Instagram
Getting recognized as authentic on a parallel platform such as Twitter, Facebook, and even YouTube can increase your chances of getting verified.
Unfortunately, a verified Facebook page doesn’t automatically qualify your Instagram, but it helps increase your chances. Being active on your integrated Facebook page will also help your chances because this will also call your Facebook engagement into consideration as a verification factor.
Jane Lee of Launch Pop was able to verify her account at less than 3,000 followers because she built a substantial presence on YouTube.
Lots of Earned Media
Google yourself. What comes up?
Real people on Instagram (or Facebook) review each and every verification request manually. Their process isn’t public, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the first thing they probably do after receiving an application is type your name into the Google search bar.
If you have lots of national press about you or your brand, then you will have a much better shot at getting verified. Moreover, a robust Wikipedia page with links to many references at the bottom will go a long way. The folks at Facebook/Instagram aren’t clueless. They know that Wikipedia can be falsified, and they know how to tell. So just creating a Wikipedia page about yourself isn’t going to cut it.
If you want to boost your chances at verification, and you’re not really close right now, probably the single best thing you can do is build your brand and digital presence. If you have the budget, consider working with a PR Agency that has connections to major digital publications that can pitch your story.
An Active Account
Instagram will never verify your account if it’s idle, as consistency and frequency are two of the most important tenets of the platform. In reality, there’s no use in getting verified if you’re not using the platform, aside from the bragging rights that come with having a verification badge.
Being active also helps to maintain the connection you’ve built with your followers. If you stop posting for a few days, expect a decrease in your follower count. No one wants to follow an account who doesn’t post anything.
Access the 16 free tools we love and use every day at Jumper Media.
A Complete Profile
You won’t get verified if you’re not using your real identity or the actual name of your company. So include all relevant information by completing your profile, and including your website (if applicable).
Solidify the connection by linking to your Instagram account on parallel platforms like Twitter, Facebook, even Tumblr, with the same information as your Instagram profile.
Besides being a celebrity, there’s one other useful strategy for getting verified on Instagram…
To Be At Risk of Being Impersonated
The main purpose of Instagram and other social networks providing a method for verification is because of the likelihood of well-known figures being impersonated. Instagram wants people to be able to easily find and connect with authentic people and brands with the use of the verification badge.
It is easy for celebrities to meet the criteria because they get impersonated on a regular basis.
But before you jump to conclusions with regards to this tactic, don’t ask someone to impersonate you (or create a profile that acts as your impersonation). The folks over at Instagram can tell. Instead, become the kind of person that might be at risk of being impersonated.
While this is not a foolproof method for getting verified, it is perhaps the whole reason why this verification nonsense exists in the first place, so it definitely helps.
Recommended read: How to Drive Sales with Instagram: 6 Easy Tips
Can you Apply to be Verified on Instagram?
So, right now there is no way you can apply to be verified by Instagram, but there are a few ways to get in touch with the right people. Here are a few ways to contact Instagram to get verified:
- Work with a large social/digital agency that represents lots of celebrities. Many of them will have an “in” with Instagram and will have access to what is known as a verification portal.
- Get in touch with Instagram support any way that you can, and be persistent with your request as they are notoriously hard to get a hold of.
Your best bet is option #1. But that’s probably not an option unless you are really a pseudo-celebrity or representing a large brand. Sorry, kiddo. If it were easy everybody would do.
Ultimately, to get verified you’ve got to sell yourself or your brand, and convince them that you are worthy of that blue verification badge. First, you’ve got to pitch someone with access to a verification portal to put you through it (this usually involves a fee). Then in your application, you’ll need to sell the IG team on why you deserve the checkmark (refer to the section above.)
Yes, this is difficult.
But that’s why verification badges are so exclusive and sought after.
Recommended read: 33 New Ways to Increase Instagram Engagement for 2018!
Is Getting Verified even Worth It?
You’ll need to put in a well-rounded effort in order to get your account verified on Instagram. Start by building a strong online brand presence, inside and outside of Instagram. Even if you don’t have a large presence on Instagram, having recognition on other platforms will contribute positively to your identity on Instagram.
The process is just too arduous to do it just for bragging rights. If you decide to pursue it, you’ve got to be in it for the right reasons. Like marriage, or medical school.
A silly social media status symbol is probably not the answer to the problem you’re trying to solve. It won’t make or break your musical career. It won’t get you a part in the next Quentin Tarantino film, and it won’t get your new startup funding from A16z.
But it might help.
Have questions about getting verified on Instagram?
Drop a note in the comments below!
(P.S. Anyone selling IG Verification in the comments is almost definitely a scam.)