In many ways, the blue verification tick you see besides an influencer’s name is a sign of status. Only the most popular and influential Instagrammers will ever see it. In fact, it can be incredibly difficult to get verified on Instagram.
Most of the other social networks have similar verification or status symbols. It should be no surprise that Facebook, Instagram’s owner, operates a similar verification scheme, also using a white tick on a blue background as its symbol. Twitter has run its Profile Verification system since 2009. Google + and Pinterest likewise signpost verified celebrity and influencer accounts.
Even Musical.ly provides a status symbol for its highest performers – a crown. We have previously discussed how to get a crown on Musical.ly.
It is important to remember what these symbols mean. The social networks have not designed them to represent status. They were created to signify authenticity. The term “verified” indicates that Instagram (or another social network) has made an effort to ensure that you are who you say you are.
Verification on Instagram ensures that people can find the correct account when they search for a particular celebrity or influencer. A verified account belongs to “the real deal.” It is not a fan account, a tribute account, or a fake account.
However, Instagram only wants to verify people whom they deem important enough for somebody to want to set up fake accounts or imitate. If you are a “normal” person, there is no reason for somebody to impersonate you. So, from Instagram’s point of view, there is no reason to verify you.
How to Get Verified on Instagram:
Official Instagram Statements
Instagram makes its views on verification clear in its help files. It says that a verified badge means “that Instagram has confirmed that this is the authentic account for the public figure, celebrity or global brand it represents.”
“Accounts representing well-known figures and brands are verified because they have a high likelihood of being impersonated. We want to make sure that people in the Instagram community can easily find the authentic people and brands they want to follow.”
Instagram also makes it clear that it is up to them to decide who qualifies as a public figure, celebrity or global brand. You cannot just apply to become verified.
Instagram also makes it clear that although Facebook owns it, it uses separate procedures to determine who should have an Instagram verified symbol on their profile. The followers of somebody on Facebook and Instagram are entirely different. Someone who is famous on one of the networks, may not be considered a celebrity on the other.
Ultimately, Instagram sums up its policy with the following statement. “Currently, only Instagram accounts that have a high likelihood of being impersonated have verified badges.” If people can find your Instagram account easily enough, then Instagram is unlikely to verify you.
Of course, despite Instagram not considering the verification tick to be a status symbol that is how many of its users see it. Instagrammers who have it display it proudly and those who lack it often feel that Instagram has denied them “authenticity power.”
What Can You do to Help Yourself Get Verified on Instagram?
If you want to have that little tick beside your name, then you need to turn yourself into a “public figure, celebrity or global brand.” In other words, you need to become a real influencer.
There is some evidence, however, that you first need to do this on a platform other than Instagram. This makes sense. If you have many genuine followers on Instagram, then people can obviously find you quickly enough. They are unlikely to be confused by whether your account is your own (unless you share your name with another influencer).
Hence you should first apply the suggestions here to another social network and build an influencer status there before you use them on Instagram. If you build up a following on Instagram too quickly, before you find fame elsewhere, you may never become verified.
1. Build Your Followers and Engagement
Clearly the key to being famous online is to become a true influencer. This means that you need plenty of people wanting to follow you. However, more importantly, you want followers who will interact with you and engage with your posts and statuses. There is no point in having irrelevant followers, just to boost your numbers.
We have previously covered how to become Instagram famous. Although this focuses on making the most of Instagram's graphic nature, you can still use many of those tips to build your influencer status on another platform first.
An essential requirement is to define your niche. While it might seem that you would gain more followers by trying to appeal to everybody, you are unlikely to increase your engagement that way. This is one area where the old saying, “Jack of all trades, and master of none” applies. You need to build up recognition for your expertise in your preferred topic area.
For instance, Zoe Sugg first built her online reputation with her personal beauty and lifestyle blog – Zoella. She began her social media life with a YouTube channel, where she developed a reputation as a fashion and beauty guru. That channel now has more than 12 million dedicated followers.
Having built her reputation on YouTube, Zoe was able to make a successful transition to other social networks, including Instagram. She has now developed a sizeable audience there that matches her YouTube following. Other people have opened similarly named Instagram accounts, so Instagram verified Zoe’s account to avoid confusion.
It is crucial that any engagement be meaningful. There is no point in making a series of “Nice picture”-type comments on peoples’ images/posts. Such meaningless comments do nothing to enhance your credibility as a thought leader.
2. Use Popular Hashtags to Help Make Yourself More Visible
One way you can help your posts reach a wider audience is to use popular hashtags. Both Instagram and Twitter suggest popular hashtags. There are also independent apps to assist with ideas, such as Hashtagify or TagBlender.
Unfortunately, the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal has meant that Facebook and Instagram have tightened up on the quantity of useful data they make available, but you can still find general trends for popular hashtags. Similarly, if you try to build your first influencer reputation on Twitter, there is still much information shared on that platform.
Shortstack lists 158 popular hashtags for Instagram marketing, Instagram contests/promotions, restaurants, boutiques/retailers, and musicians. They also include the 100 most popular hashtags. According to this list, Instagram’s ten most popular hashtags are:
#love, #instagood, #photooftheday, #tbt, #beautiful, #cute, #me, #happy, #fashion, #followme
It is important that you only use hashtags they are relevant to your niche, however. You are never going to be accepted as an influencer if you create posts that are irrelevant to your niche and followers so that you can use a trending hashtag.
One common practice is to create a hashtag for your personal brand and to encourage your followers to use it regularly.
3. Cross Promote Your Social Media Accounts
One way you can build your following on Instagram, or any other network is to promote all of your social network accounts. That way, your Instagram followers may choose to follow you on YouTube, your Twitter followers may sign up to your Facebook page, your Facebook followers may join you on Instagram, etc.
By establishing popularity across a range of sites, you come across as being more of an internet celebrity, and more likely to be considered somebody worthy of Instagram verification.
You want your entire online presence to come across as a single outlet for you (or your brand’s) personality. Therefore you want your blog, YouTube page, and all of your social media sites to link together seamlessly. Combined, they represent you. If you desire to be an influencer you need a wide-ranging and varied online platform. Instagram should be just one part of your overall online social platform.
4. Make Your Posts at the Best Times for Your Target Social Network
To encourage maximum engagement, you will want as many people as possible to see your posts. That means you should post at the times when most of your followers are checking their social media accounts.
Yes, you will have to compete with more posts from others at those times, bit if you can prove you are influential, you should be able to stand out from lower-quality posters.
Remember that the best way to get verified on Instagram is to build a following on another platform first. So you will need to follow the best practices for the initial platform you choose to target.
CoSchedule has looked at this in detail, and they have analyzed 23 studies to find the best times to post on social media.
Their suggestions for the optimal posting times for each network are as follows:
- Saturday and Sunday at 12–1 p.m.
- Thursday and Friday at 1–4 p.m.
- Wednesday at 3 p.m.
- Wednesday at noon and 5–6 p.m.
- Monday–Friday at 12–3 p.m. and 5 p.m.
- Experiment with 2–3 a.m., 6–7 a.m., and 9–10 p.m.
- Saturdays at 8–11 p.m.
- Fridays at 3 p.m.
- Tuesday at 10–11 a.m.
- Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 7:30–8:30 a.m., 12 p.m., and 5–6 p.m.
- Wednesday at 9 a.m.
- Weekdays at 9–11 a.m.
CoSchedule does not list any statistics for YouTube, possibly because YouTube does not rely on a disappearing feed, unlike the other networks.
Finally, once you have created yourself a name elsewhere and are ready to build your Instagram clout, CoSchedule has the following recommendations for the best time to post your Instagram images and videos to ensure ultimate engagement.
- Monday and Thursday at any time other than 3–4 p.m.
- Videos any day at 9 p.m.–8 a.m.
- Experiment with 2 a.m., 5 p.m., and Wednesday at 7 p.m.
5. Personalize Your Posts
Do not forget that the reason that Instagram verifies selected accounts is to guarantee that they are official accounts belonging to actual public figures, celebrities or global brands. Therefore, you need to ensure that your account differs in some way from anyone else who might choose to use your name or something very similar.
If you operate a cold, impersonal account, then there is no advantage to somebody if they follow you. They might as well support a generic copycat if you do not provide them with anything better.
You need to add personality to your postings. If you merely post pictures of buildings or landscapes you are not adding value. Indeed you are not influential in any way. If you are a portraying yourself as a fashion influencer, there is little point in just posting pictures of clothing. You will do far better by posting a picture of people wearing the attire in attractive settings, or you modeling it.
Zoe Sugg, for instance, would not have gained her success (or Instagram verification tick) If she had restricted her posts to showing pictures of different shades of lipstick in their tubes.
We recently looked at 10 Instagram Fitness Models That Will Inspire You to Get Into Shape. The reason that these people have had success on Instagram is that they share photos showing how they have kept fit, along with comments about their progress and suggestions on how other people can also train to be fit. They usually pick eye-catching, visually-pleasing photos, often taken in stunning locations.
6. Avoid Bad Social Practices
Just like Google, Facebook, and other major internet companies, Instagram is skilled at spotting any attempts to game its system. You need to avoid taking any shortcuts as you attempt to build enough of a reputation as an influencer to gain the coveted verification tick.
Never buy followers. Quite apart from the fact that Instagram will probably spot it, it will lead to you having an “unbalanced” account, i.e., a significant following with little engagement. People you buy as followers, if they exist at all, will have no interest in you, will never see your posts, and certainly will never meaningfully engage with you.
Don’t make spammy comments. Neither Instagram nor its users will consider you an influencer if they associate you with pointless “nice picture”-type comments, that are no different from those created by automatic bots.
Finally, make sure that your posts meet Instagram's community guidelines. You do not want to be the guy banned by Instagram for posting pictures of nudes or your latest drug paraphernalia.
If you use Instagram the way they want you to, and you build your reputation as an influencer somewhere else first, then the day may come when you open your account to find that Instagram has awarded you their verification tick.
It is hard to get verified on Instagram – but not impossible.