Forty-four thousand followers and 22,000+ Tweets after I first joined Twitter in 2008, I am verified. It means a lot more to me than I ever thought it would. This could indicate a problem, an immoderate obsession with one of the world's most popular social media platforms. I'm okay with that. I never said I was perfect.
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Getting verified on Twitter was almost completely beyond my control. I say "almost” because Twitter does pay attention to accounts, and real people decide who does and does not get verified.
This is how Twitter describes the "process" on its Help page:
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"Twitter proactively verifies accounts on an ongoing basis to make it easier for users to find who they’re looking for. We concentrate on highly sought users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, advertising, business, and other key interest areas. We verify business partners from time to time and individuals at high risk of impersonation.
We do not accept requests for verification from the general public. If you fall under one of the above categories and your Twitter account meets our qualifications for verification, we may reach out to you in the future."
So there are some criteria. I am assuming that I fall into the "highly sought users...in journalism," though I would blush at that compliment (knowing that every bit of Twitter success I have is owed to all the kind people who follow me) and wonder if there are other, unnamed factors at play. No, I do not think I was in any danger of "impersonation." Seriously, what value is there in impersonating me? Exactly. None.
I have obsessed, though, a bit about the verification process, especially as I watched contemporaries and competitors get the badge. Not too long ago, I saw one Twitter member, with a profile similar to mine, get it right around the time she hit 50,000 followers. "Aha!" I thought. "I found the benchmark for verification!"
However, when I asked a Twitter PR representative if there were any verified accounts with fewer followers, she told me there were and the number of followers was not among the criteria used to make the decision.
Earlier this year, I wondered if I'd get verified for my birthday. Deep down, I knew I wouldn't, but since I could not figure out the secret sauce for making the grade, I closed my eyes, blew out my candles and wished.
What has given me just a bit of insight into how Twitter applied verification is the process for accepting the badge.
It starts pretty simply: with a direct message from the Twitter verification fairy ...er… account stating, "We at Twitter would like to verify your account. Please click this link and follow the instructions."
Now, I have to admit that, at first, I worried that it was a spam (or worse) and hesitated to follow the link. Okay, to be honest, I only hesitated for a millisecond. I was just too excited about the news. I followed the link and ended up at a secure server link on Twitter. Now comes the interesting part.
Twitter makes you jump through a couple of very easy hoops before you get fully verified. It's just three quick steps, a test -- no, not a test, The questions are so simple and obvious that it's little more than a quiz, comprising of three parts:
"Learn how to Tweet effectively" "Connect with other Interesting Twitter Users" "Protect Your Account."
Part one actually presents you with some sample tweets and, essentially, asks you which ones would be more effective. There is a wrong answer, but Twitter is not trying to punk you here. It will show you the right answers if you wish, and even let you skip the question altogether. I was pleased that I answered all the questions correctly, and recognized some of my own well-worn methods for engaging followers on the social network. At the very least, this showed me the kind of Tweets Twitter prefers.
The second part was even more interesting because Twitter told me I could increase my "Trustworthiness" by following other "verified" users. Though it was a little like I'd been invited into a private club and Twitter was teaching me the secret handshake, known only among verified users, I knew this had more to do with "real people" (as defined by Twitter) following "real people", a virtuous circle of sorts.
The last part was probably the most important: Giving Twitter a real phone number they could call in case of account trouble.
Being Verified does change my account a bit: I can no longer simply change my handle without first getting Twitter’s okay. Some people think that I may now be more susceptible to parody accounts -- I still doubt it. Plus, I noticed that nearly two thousand followers suddenly vaporized from my account. Perhaps Twitter does a little spam scrubbing in advance of a Twitter verification. Twitter now also promised to provide me with weekly reports and even tips for increasing my number of followers.
So, yes, I felt pretty good about myself for a few minutes -- special, even. Then I noticed that Twitter was verifying a whole bunch of accounts at the same time -- it was all over Twitter. Okay, maybe I'm not that special.
Still, if you see me in person today, you may notice a little extra spring in my step, a twinkle in my eye and a little grin on my face. I'm verified on Twitter and I'm feeling good.
You Get a Little Message
This story originally published on Mashable here.
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