When looking for someone important on Instagram, you usually stop scrolling when you see the little white checkmark encapsulated by a blue circle next to the name. Translation? That person is verified (i.e. important).
But not just anyone can get verified. According to Instagram:
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.
Forbes contributor Tom Ward made it his mission to try and find out if an average Joe like himself could get verified. And by “average Joe,” we mean someone who has a substantial Instagram following already.
According to Instagram, it’s not currently possible to request or purchase a verified badge. “Only some public figures, celebrities and brands have verified badges,” they say.
According to Ward, that’s not actually true. You can both request and pay for a badge — just not through Instagram. Says Ward:
I reached out to every verified person that I knew, and found that there are really only three ways to be verified: Be famous and have a ton of followers, work with a digital agency and have them submit a request for you, or pay a third party or someone at Instagram to get you verified.
Ward says most of the verified people he spoke with worked with a digital agency or publicist to get their badge, because “agencies and publicists have access to a digital portal that the rest of us don’t.”
Public figures with millions of followers will likely have no problem getting verified, even if it takes awhile. But regular folks? “Really, the only way to do it is to know someone at Instagram or pay a third party to do it for you,” says Ward, who reached out on Twitter to see if anyone had any advice.
He was contacted by a guy who knows a guy at Instagram who charges $500 per verified badge. Very blackmarket.
“He told me it’s his friend’s side hustle, and although Instagram has cracked down on employees getting their friends verified; he still charges a couple of people a month to get verified.”
So, which is easier? Giving up $500 or making that blue dot your next side hustle by working tirelessly to grow followers the old-fashioned way, through content creation and engagement? Both sound terrible.