What's happening with verified check marks on the social platform, and what does this mean for brands?
The latest upheaval in the ongoing saga that is “Twitter in the age of Musk” is the long-awaited update to verified accounts, and it's causing chaos with brands, celebrities, influential users and – of course – Elon himself weighing in on what this means and what happens next.
Blue checks – previously a sign that users were who they said they were, verified by Twitter – are being phased out, and some functions are now restricted to subscribers only; those ‘paying to play’ at $8 a month for individuals (Twitter Blue), or a punchy $1,000 for businesses (Gold). Some of the largest financial institutions have gold checks – J.P. Morgan, Bank of America, Citi and Goldman Sachs all have Verified Organization status.
Musk claims this change is intended to improve content quality and user experience, while reducing spam, but in reality it’s created more confusion for businesses and individuals looking for the right course of action.
In the pre-Musk era, the potential for audience reach on Twitter was huge. Even just this year, Hootsuite reported that Twitter ads reach 10.7% of all internet users, 3x more men than women, and the platform has an estimated 238 million monetizable daily active users (individuals who physically log in daily who aren’t bots). We’ve seen success for our clients on the platform particularly around events and major cultural moments when audiences come to the channel to debate and discuss – from public conversations during the World Cup to investor reactions to earnings calls, or sharing from major financial industry events.
Since the takeover, businesses have been asking whether this is still the case. A reflection of this: we’ve seen a near complete pause in Twitter advertising among our clients in recent months. In conversations just this week to plan social activity for the months ahead, clients have expressed exasperation and doubt as to the future of the platform.
With everything changing (and no sign of that stopping!), how should you decide if paid-for verification is right for your business?
If you’re an existing advertiser: an analysis of your channel's ad activity is a reasonable place to start. Evaluating the benefits of reach, engagement and conversion from Twitter campaigns can inform a decision on continued advertising if that supports your audiences and business objectives, in which case verification may be necessary.
Beyond the pure ‘opportunity’ factor, many brands (and celebrities, agencies, and others!) are avoiding verification on principle, either given so many uncertainties with what might happen next on the platform (and potential brand reputation issues) or to avoid being seen to support its current direction and leadership.
Some questions we’re asking as we evaluate the future of Twitter in our own and our clients’ social strategies:
What are your values as a company and do they align with Twitter’s? How much do you base your decisions about who you do business with on your moral alignment?
Is Twitter still a useful channel to prove your credibility and legitimacy as an organization?
Are journalists still using it? Does Twitter still offer opportunities to connect with journalists and spot media opps?
Will people still use Twitter at events, offering opportunities to join conversations and get in front of engaged audiences?
Will people still turn to Twitter to discuss big cultural moments?
We're closely monitoring how the platform continues to evolve. For now, we've decided to hold off on verifying Cognito's channels, but we'll be keeping a close eye on what happens next...