Just the other day, I received a message from a colleague here at Inc. He asked me if I had a strategy to get verified on Twitter. He told me he was fairly confident he would get verified but was quickly humbled by the decision made on Twitter's behalf.
I understand my colleague's frustration. I've been trying to get verified on Twitter for the last year. Before, only certain accounts were allowed to submit for verification. These were Twitter accounts that had an active Twitter Ads account.
If you had an active Twitter Ads account, you could submit yourself, or anyone else for verification. But now it's open to everyone.
But can just anyone get verified?
How hard it is to get verified
Back in April of 2015, my friend had submitted me for verification. I was denied the right to be recognized as being the real me. Then we started to brainstorm creative ways for me to get verified. Did I have to quit my job and do something crazy like get into politics? But I couldn't run for a small position, I would have to run for something big, like Mayor of a city like Los Angeles, or Governor or Senator.
Where in the world would I get the funds to blow on a campaign like that? That idea slowly slipped away and went into the abyss.
Back in November of 2015, I submitted myself and Keck Medicine of USC for verification. Keck Medicine of USC was verified within 48 hours while I received an email back requesting that I update my email address.
I had submitted for verification using my Inc. column and was declined since I don't have an email address for Inc. Magazine. It worked for Facebook so I assumed it would work for Twitter, but no... The method to get verified is a lot more stringent. I started asking around for an email address at multiple publications and didn't get anywhere, so I gave up on that strategy.
But that's probably why the checkmark is coveted by so many people. You can't just have a column, you need to be working full time at the publication too.
Around March to May of 2016, I had another submission done on my behalf. This one fell through because whoever was handling verifications before must have quit, causing a huge backlog. People had to resubmit the profiles for verification again and I once again was denied.
On August 6, 2016, I received my verification on Twitter, which came with instant verification on my Vine and Periscope accounts as well.
But what changed this time around and why was I verified?
What won't work
When I applied for verification on Facebook the first time around, I went in as an author. I was quickly denied. Then the second time around, I went in as a columnist for Inc. Magazine. That worked. If you're a columnist for a publication, then Facebook will hand you out a badge. But the only way this works on Twitter is if you're a staff writer with a major publication, not a freelancer or columnist.
You need to have your own email address with the company you represent, or it's just not going to happen.
How you need to position yourself
But what changed this time around when I went to get verified was that I took a completely different approach. I went in for verification as a public figure as opposed to a writer.
I've been spending most of the last year picking up as much momentum as possible as a public figure. But what exactly is a public figure?
A public figure is someone who gets recognized by the media as an important person or expert in their industry.
What you need to have
Think about it like this. Chances are if someone has a Wikipedia page, they are a public figure. In order to be alive and have a Wikipedia page about you, you need to have around 10 articles talking about you from major publications.
These are not one line quotes or mentions you give to the local newspaper, even if it is the Los Angeles Times. Nor are they interviews, where your answers are being documented word for word. Nor are they podcasts or radio shows that you end up on, no matter how popular the host is.
These are full on feature articles about you. These can be in tabloids, big name magazines, or television shows like E!, but not trade magazines. Some examples of these publications include Entrepreneur, Fortune, Forbes, Inc., The Huffington Post, CNN, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review and so forth. The stronger the publication, the better your chances are at verification.
Most Wikipedia pages are taken down if they don't have around eight to 10 sources. So the easiest way to judge whether or not you'd qualify for Twitter verification is if a Wikipedia page exists about you.
Otherwise, if you aren't a politician, famous celebrity or staff for a company that has a deal with Twitter, there really isn't any luck in making it happen.
How to get media features
The easiest way to get media features is to make friends with a lot of journalists who rely on your expertise. This should be easy if you're in a profession that requires specific insight and knowledge like science or medicine.
Otherwise, there's these seven steps, or courses like mine that teach you how to build your personal brand, get featured in publications and growth hack your social media. After all, I didn't discover this stuff by chance. I figured out every single way that doesn't work to figure out the ones that do.
The benefits of being verified
It's great for your personal brand, because of the social stigma that comes along with it. We usually only see the blue checkmark by the names of the famous. For example there are probably other Tony Robbins on social media, but they aren't THE Tony Robbins as far as Twitter is concerned. As cheesy as it sounds, it's 100 percent totally a status symbol that builds instant credibility with your audience.
The 10 steps you need to follow to get verified on Twitter:
1. Go to https://verification.twitter.com/request
2. Become eligible for review
Twitter will ask you to login if you aren't already and redirect you to one of two locations.
If you aren't eligible for review, you'll get directed to this window.
Update the information that they've requested as seen here.
Email Address Confirmation:
Birthday and Website:
3. Request verification
Once you have this all in place you'll be directed to the verification request. Check the box if it applies to you then click next.
4. Fill in your credibility
Twitter wants five links from you to prove you're the real deal. Use your strongest links. The screenshot below shows what links Dennis used.
I forgot to take a screenshot when I submitted, but these are the ones I used:
Notice how I didn't use a single article I wrote. I didn't even use my personal website or my Inc. column, because neither of those worked the other times around.
5. Write why you should be verified
Don't try to include any additional links in the section marked "Tell us why this account should be verified", otherwise you won't be able to click next.
You can see what Dennis wrote below in his screen shot. If he wasn't a speaker, I would suggest he use stronger links and a better description. But he already is a pretty solid public speaker with a good reputation. Regardless, this is what I wrote:
Hi! My Facebook is verified (@leonardkim). As my career continues, I just get more and more recognition from the media. I have my picture in GQ. I have an article going up in Forbes about me this weekend, another one in Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, etc. lined up and they just continue to happen, plus it's just going to keep happening. I also have my own columns in Inc., Entrepreneur, Huff Post, Thought Catalog, SEMRush, Tech in Asia, etc. and I've been in dozens of pubs already.
6. Upload your photo ID
Take a picture of your ID and upload it to the form.
7. Confirm your information
Once you've completed this form you'll be directed to another confirmation page:
Verify that the information is correct and supports the list of reasons you provided for why you should be verified.
8. Click submit
9. Wait for the confirmation email from Twitter
If you're approved you'll receive a confirmation like this one here.
This could take weeks, if not months. It all depends on how backed up Twitter's verification system is. Hearing nothing back means that your application is still pending.
Once verified, you'll receive a blue checkmark that looks like this.
I should've gone to celebrate this due to how long I've been going after this achievement. I haven't done so yet, but I'm looking forward to it.
Dennis Yu and I followed the same steps and it worked, by following the path of becoming a public figure first. If you're willing to take that path, then you should be well on your way to getting verified too. If you need help and direction as to what to do, check out how to build your personal brand with my course at InfluenceTree.
Have you gotten verified by doing this? I'd love to hear your story! Comment below.