Breaking news! You can officially become blue tick verified on Facebook and Instagram, for ¢11.99 (web) or ¢14.99 (iOS) per month. Yep, you heard right: Meta is launching a subscription service for its two social media giants. This revelation has divided public opinion – but what does it mean for the world of digital marketing?
Why Meta, and Why Now?
Ah, the elusive, formerly exclusive blue tick. Back in the day, the blue tick was a symbol of online prestige, and was sought after by every influencer and micro-influencer under the sun. Anybody who was anybody on social media was verified. What began as a nifty way for users to identify celebrity accounts amidst the sea of impersonators soon morphed into a phenomenon synonymous with online clout.
Fast-forward to the ‘Musk era‘: Elon Musk introduced ‘Twitter Blue’, which users can subscribe to for ¢8 per month. In return? They get a sought-after blue tick. However, this announcement divided Twitter users: whilst some were thrilled to become ‘Twitter verified’, others questioned the authenticity of this stunt. By simply clicking on a user’s blue tick, for example, you can see whether their verification is legitimate or a direct result of a monthly subscription to Twitter Blue.
Regardless, the trend of subscription-based models is rife: Meta is following hot on the heels of Twitter Blue, YouTube Premium, and Snapchat+ – to name but a few! Therefore, it is unsurprising that Mark Zuckerberg has chosen 2023 to strike. Amidst fierce competition from TikTok, Meta’s revenue has declined for the first time in history. Who can blame them for seeking a new revenue source? Subsequently, one could argue that Meta Verified is a business decision, above all else.
The Blue Tick: To Pay, Or Not to Pay
Despite people questioning the relevance of a paid-for verification, Meta promises a plethora of benefits to subscribers. First, the process is simple; you can verify your account with a government ID, set up payment, and then, lo and behold, you’re all blue badged-up! Beyond the verified tick, subscribers will have increased visibility and reach (with prioritised visibility in search, comments and recommendations), access to one-to-one customer support and impersonation monitoring – not to mention an exclusive set of IG Story stickers!
These benefits have definite appeal for online creators, particularly those trying to increase their reach and authority across platforms. However, many argue that Meta Verified will over-saturate the social media market with ‘faux’ verified accounts, which obliterates the credibility of the previously sought-after blue tick. Some users have even referred to Meta Verified as “the blue badge of desperation”, whilst others claim that they would be “a lot more likely to pay for Facebook if I could control my feed vs getting a blue checkmark (no thanks)”. There are certainly many issues that these social platforms need to iron out, so the real question is: what should be their priority?
How Does This Affect Digital Marketing?
Meta Verified is currently only available for personal accounts, so businesses must undergo the standard approval process. However, if there is ever a shift towards paid subscriptions for business accounts in the future, this would undoubtedly redefine the social media marketing landscape. On the one hand, this would provide a shortcut to having your business ‘Instagram approved’ – yet would this be rendered meaningless? Nonetheless, businesses would still have access to the host of benefits that Meta Verified provides. In the meantime, brands are on a level playing field, whilst personal accounts may potentially find themselves lost in the sea of blue ticks.
We also predict that this development will significantly impact influencer marketing. Instagram is the largest influencer platform, and prior to this, account verification was one of the key definitive factors for celebrities and influencers alike. Now, in a world where the sacred blue tick no longer denotes notability, influencers will have to be even more creative (particularly in the age of the de-influencer!). Whether they demonstrate the influence that they wield via a high follower count or through the quality of their content, influencers need to up their game to stand out from the crowd and attract brands. From last weekend onwards, a blue tick no longer signifies influencer stardom.
Finally, Meta Verified denotes social media’s shift into the paid subscription space. They are certainly not the first to launch a subscription-based model, which will likely affect the digital marketing landscape as we know it. As ever, we encourage businesses to prioritise their organic growth strategy: with or without a blue tick, you want to position your brand at the front of users’ minds (and at the top of their searches!). It will certainly be interesting if such subscription services extend to business accounts. If and when the time comes, we will be ready and waiting to give you our insights!