Have you noticed social media accounts with a blue ‘verified’ tick on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? This unique badge indicates that the platform has verified who owns the account. It assures us that we are interacting with real accounts rather than ‘faux’ versions created and run by fans or imposters.
The verified tick was once reserved for notable profiles/pages, including those of government organisations, large companies and big-name brands, journalists, entertainers and sports icons – who are highly susceptible to being impersonated or imitated online.
Verified social media accounts help followers or customers know that they are interacting with the ‘real’ page and entity. For example, organisations such as the Australian Tax Office, Qantas or Woolworths use their accounts to support their customers and answer queries. In the case of a famous person, or person of note, you can rest assured that you are seeing content posted by the real person via their official social account, e.g. Madonna or Christiano Ronaldo.
With the rise of malicious impersonators and scam accounts, not only for notable businesses and famous people but also for us regular ‘Joe Bloggs’ users like you and me, Twitter relaunched their ‘Twitter Blue’ program at the end of 2022, opening it up to all users as a paid subscription option. Following suit with their own move at the start of 2023 was Meta, who released their revised ‘blue tick’ system called ‘Meta Verified‘ for Facebook and Instagram.
As a real estate professional, this topic may have caught your eye in the news headlines. You may be wondering whether investing in a verified subscription for your real estate business and its social media accounts will benefit you.
What is Meta Verified?
Starting its global roll-out across Australia and New Zealand in February 2023, the Meta subscription bundle includes the following benefits:
- A verified badge.
- Access to account support for most common issues.
- Active impersonation monitoring for accounts.
- More visibility for Meta Verified subscribers across Facebook, such as in search, other people’s comments and in-feed recommendations.
- Exclusive stickers in your Facebook stories and reels.
- 100 stars per month to send to your favourite creators.
At the time of writing, the Meta verified subscription is only available to personal and professional profiles, not business pages, and to be approved, the profile owners must be above 18 with a history of recent activity like posting on the account, have two-factor authentication enabled and be able to prove their identity with a Government issued document that has a photo that matches the accounts profile photo and other account details.
The subscription costs US$11.99 per month from the web or US$14.99 per month if you sign up on an iOS and Android device. Why the difference, you ask? To cover the 30% share of the fees that Apple and Google take, of course.
What is Twitter Blue?
Being the first socialplatform to move into the paid subscription space in December 2022, the Twitter program is more focused on offering enhanced features versus the ID verification & customer service focus that Meta has made their program about. In addition to a blue tick, here is what you currently get with Twitter Blue
- Edit and undo tweet abilities
- Longer Tweets – up to 4,000 characters
- Bookmark folders
- Custom app icons
- NFT profile pictures
- Range colourful app themes
- Custom navigation
- Spaces tab to find podcasts, themed audio stations, recorded Spaces, and live Spaces.
- Top articles shortcut
- Reader experience for long threads
- Prioritised rankings in conversations
- Longer video upload
- SMS two-factor authentication
Within this subscription are three check types – companies and organisations are given a gold-coloured verification, while individuals, regardless of celebrity status, are assigned a blue check. Government entities receive a grey check.
To be eligible for Twitter Blue, accounts must have been created more than 90 days ago and undergo a review to validate that they meet Twitter’s requirements. Account holders must also verify their phone number as part of the sign-up process.
For users that subscribe to Twitter Blue via the web platform, the cost is US$8 per month and US$11 per month for those who subscribe in the iOS app. Once again, to combat the Apple and Google fees.
As with most things in life, there are both positives and negatives to Meta Verified and Twitter Blue subscriptions. Following are the key standouts.
Meta Verified: The pros and cons
While this move may seem controversial as it contradicts Meta’s historical approach of offering free access and use of their platforms, there are positive outcomes from the introduction of Meta Verified.
Spam and fake accounts have long been causing chaos on both Facebook and Instagram. From being hacked to trolling, spoof accounts and fake comments, it ultimately takes away from the end user’s experience, which is bad news for any real estate business using the platforms for its brand marketing. Anything that can discourage these behaviours is a positive in my book.
Secondly, the customer support offered by Meta has been lacking for a long time. It is good to see that they have a plan to improve support, even if it comes at a cost. I will be monitoring the feedback closely on this service to see if Meta support improves. Paying for a Meta Verified subscription may be a small fee that is well worth the investment if you get better support and assistance when needed, but only time will tell if this is truly the case.
Finally, year on year, the Facebook and Instagram algorithms take more work to conquer, as both social media channels need us to pay for ads in order to continue to exist. If, as a Meta Verified subscriber, your visibility increases across the sites, this can only be a positive for anyone using social media to promote themselves as a real estate agent or their property selling or leasing services.
That said, presently, Meta Verified is only for Profiles, not business Pages. This means a blue tick is not available to advertising accounts. Verification for business pages will likely follow at some point in the near future, but it will be interesting to see how Meta manages the authentication process. Will they be able to cross check your business or sole trader tax file number or business certificate?
Currently, the value for money seems lacking, especially compared to other paid subscription services. There’s not yet enough incentive for us at Hoole to sign up. Plus, if you want to verify your profiles on Facebook and Instagram, a separate subscription to required, doubling the price. This will no doubt push us to choose one social platform or the other as our primary business page.
Once you are approved, Meta requires subscribers to reapply for verified status if they need to change their profile name or profile picture. So, something that was simple to do in the past will become more involved.
Lastly, with the meaning of a verified account changing from big brands or famous people to every man and his dog, there is sure to be some confusion about what a blue tick actually means. This shift may also come with a fair amount of discontent from those previously part of the exclusive club known as “verified.”
Twitter Blue: The pros and cons
Many of the features within the Twitter Blue program are ones that Twitter users have been looking for from the platform, like the ability to edit a tweet and upload longer videos. They will improve the site’s user experience and be helpful to those who use the platform as their primary social media channel. Plus, the features like priority replies should help business users build their page following.
However, the verification program needs to be drastically improved. Twitter’s verification process simply requires a phone number, so it doesn’t carry as much weight as the ID verification program that Meta has put in place. In fact, multiple fake Twitter ‘verified’ accounts were set up within hours of the program going live.
The value for money with a paid Twitter account is also questionable. As with Meta Verified, the cost, when compared with other subscription services, such as on-demand TV, email subscriptions or data storage accounts, seems expensive.
Other drawbacks are that not all subscription features are available on all devices, for example, the colour themes feature. Plus, users are still served sponsored ads in their feed despite paying for their user account.
So, will I subscribe?
For the moment, I’m not going to subscribe. But I’m going to keep a close watch on how the services evolve and monitor the feedback from the early adopters. Whilst I can see some advantages for my business and clients that are real estate professionals, I am yet to be convinced that the offering is value for money. If I were to select one, I’d choose Meta Verified as Twitter has less relevance to real estate. And, if Meta were to keep up their commitment towards better support services, that would be of value in itself. I’ll keep you updated!
What my team and I do know to be true, is that the social media world is constantly evolving and changing, and if you’d like help staying on top of all these changes, book a FREE 1-hour consultation with me, Melanie Hoole.