For those who really, really want Twitter's coveted blue "verified account" badge, it is pursued as the ultimate validation of their life's worth. For those who already have one, it's … meh.
Little more than a dozen pixels wide, the verified checkmark has become a rabidly sought-after digital laurel symbolizing that you've "made it" at whatever it is you do.
Each day, Twitter's official (but long dormant) @Verified account is flooded with requests from content creators, musicians, aspiring actors and models pleading to have their accounts consecrated as legit. And then there are their fans, unburdened by any sort of humility and practically rending their clothes in consternation at the idea that Twitter has failed to acknowledge the greatness of their favorite artists.
Dozens of fan-supported hashtags are circulating at any given time, in hopes of influencing Twitter's decision to verify an account. An effort called #VerifyJordiWhitworth, supporting an X Factor contestant, became one of the U.K.'s top trending Twitter topics on Nov. 20, with fans tweet-screaming notes like: "WHY THE DAMN AREN'T YOU VERIFIED SERIOUSLY!! YOUR SO GODDAMN AMAZING." Alas, Whitworth remains unverified, much to the chagrin of his 25,000 followers.
Such attempts are generally met with failure, in fact. That's because Twitter doesn't verify by public request. "We do not accept requests for verification from the general public," Twitter's site notes, along with the not-so-comforting advice that if you're an influential artist, politician, journalist, commentator or executive, "we may reach out to you in the future."
The unspoken reality is that verification almost always stems from an existing relationship with Twitter representatives. While often that's an advertising relationship, it doesn't always involve money changing hands.
"I haven't seen it as some kind of quid pro quo," said David Berkowitz, CMO of digital agency MRY. "Realistically, brands that spend the most tend to have closer relationships with Twitter, so putting money on the table tends to help with relationships. But Twitter in general has done a good job in encouraging marketers and others to make the most of Twitter as a platform, so it's possible to have relationships with others at Twitter beyond ad sales representatives."
Bloomberg News White House correspondent Angela Greiling Keane says verification is a standard, behind-the-scenes step for the news service's employees. "I and other Bloomberg colleagues get verified because our social media team takes care of it with Twitter. It's definitely a credential journalists like to have."
For many verified personalities, the checkmark is just something that appears one day.
David Armano, global strategy director for Edelman Digital, says he simply received an email asking him to click through to activate his verification, a process that left him with little advice to those aspiring to verified greatness.
"What I always thought was interesting about it is how seriously people take it," Armano said. "I've had many people ask me how I got verified and asked me if I could put in a word with Twitter so they could get the same treatment. It just doesn't work that way. You have to be 'chosen,' or at least that was how it felt for me."