The red, yellow, and green are traffic signals, while the blue verification badge is the eponymous social signal for influencers. A blue verification badge or blue ticks are symbolic of verified social media accounts on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. As per these social networking platforms, blue ticks mark the authenticity of an account and the user of social prominence.
Blue Tick: Social Verification Market
In this story, you’ll learn about a whole new underground social verification market that can get you blue verification badge. You can buy blue ticks to boost your brand. These underground companies charge fees for social media verification, ranging from Rs 30,000 to Rs 1 lakh in India. Thought about having a verified profile with a blue tick? Now is the time.
On papers, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram verify accounts bearing the blue tick based on three factors: accounts should be authentic, active, and prominent. They also specify that it should be a widely searched account or highlighted in many media outlets. And this is where shady companies leverage bots to influence decision metrics.
The UnderSide of Strict Verification
Even though Twitter and Facebook officially oppose users buying followers and constantly remove fake profiles, they have a vested interest in their users’ popularity rankings because advertising relies on them. There is also a lack of legislation prohibiting the purchase of fake followers. Altogether the market of fake social media influencer tools should have a CAGR.
The blue tick obtained fraudulently has the potential to be severely abused. Experts recommend that platforms incorporate AI-assisted and human-assisted review methods. However, in today’s world of misinformation, checking the legitimacy of each account will necessitate many layers of verification. Many people believe in implementing stricter rules to drain the swamp.
The Case of Singer Bhoomi Trivedi
Is there a point at which it stops? There is a problem with fake profiles, ghost accounts, and bot accounts on social media platforms. These accounts are used to either defraud others or to steal money from innocent users. For example, in July 2020, Mumbai police discovered a large multinational scam involving social media marketing companies that create and maintain phony identities and engage in unethical business activities.
Bollywood singer Bhoomi Trivedi identified a scam. She took legal action against a phony Instagram profile that constructed false chat logs depicting agreements to verify her account. This issue raised several questions. Impersonation, freedom of speech, anonymity, fraudulent social media analytics, social media platform liability, and the legal status of bots have all raised concerns about the grey area between legality and criminality.
Vanity Social Media: No Governing Law
In India, the real problem is that no specific law will challenge the fake blue tick influencer market. Although Facebook or Twitter aims at terminating fake profiles, the catch is if such a user causes any harm. If no, then the chances are that the account sticks. If it is a yes, law enforcement has limited precedent to work with.
The digital market today relies on these vanity metrics on purpose. Humans are also programmed to trust an account with a blue tick to influence our decision. At corporate levels, it helps clients and customers know they are interacting with a legit account. But if you are an influencer already, do you need the blue tick at all? One can tell from the engagement indices: Like, Share, Comment, Retweet, Quote Tweet, Tag, Mention, etc.
Marketing Automation & Challenges
For fair marketing automation usage, Twitter has an open Tweepy library helping developers create bots to manage large accounts. Facebook also accepts API requests, and so does LinkedIn, which isn’t open to individual developers—done responsibly, such as people using community hashtags such as #blacklivesmatter or #womeninstem, #womenintech, helps meaningful engagement. But on the darker side, a python bot gone wrong can aggregate a large amount of spam.
We are married to technology. We can’t do away with technology and would also need the influencer market to make large sales happen, decisions mobilized, impact driven to revenue for the economy to sustain. But it is still important that we don’t let fake profiles/bot accounts/false verified accounts deceive us if not benefit. To identify if you are interacting with a genuine influencer, look out for the following instead of just going by the blue tick.
Follower/Following Count & Quality
A genuine user has a higher follower count compared to follow count because they are already notable. The value they create for their followers does not allow time to follow back someone to be inundated by their tweets on the user’s timeline. Some equalists have debunked the myth arguing that a balanced follow-to-follower count may be equal to the user interested in two-way communication. Sounds good to us. But we always recommend looking up before deciding to be influenced.
Quality of Content & Engagement Ratio
The second qualifier of a genuine influencer is their content and engagement ratio. Sometimes, terrible content can garner huge engagement on account of who the user is. Sometimes, well-meaning and useful content receives no engagement. If you want to find an influencer for your marketing purposes, be sure to look up the content quality. An account with a huge follower count and no quality content or engagement or an account with equal follow-to-follower count with no content or engagement is a red flag no matter the blue tick.
Mainstream Media Coverage
You might find the account is followed by most bots, ghost, or spam accounts, but that can be a smear campaign set by a competitor. It might not be easy for you to decide if that person can influence your sales or growth. Before you sign up for such an influencer, look out for media coverage. Not vanity presses, real media wherein if the media house does not feature a person but through paid PR, it will appear as sponsored content or some identifying disclosure. At worst, you can collate all media links and have them verified if published for authentic reasons. Blue tick or not, media will tell apart.