Good friend, Jason Falls, had a fantastic Facebook update lambasting any social media person who signed up on Facebook for a verified account. His update isn't safe for work, but it created quite a stir with the social media powers-that-be. His term for folks who signed up started with a “d” and ended in “bag”, hehe.
A verified account is denoted by an obvious little green or blue check mark on the person's profile on Twitter or Facebook. Verified simply means that Twitter or Facebook took the time to ensure that the person behind the account is the person who you think they are. At surface level, it sounds like a great idea… we don't want people being deceived.
I HATE verified accounts for a couple reasons:
- Not everyone can apply – as Scott Monty put it, the 1% have access to a verified account. Why not everyone? When I verified my business with Google+, I was able to do it quickly and with no hassle. It was and is open to everyone.
- It means more – everything is visual on the web. Whether it's a green bar for a secure website, a high fan or follower count, a wikipedia page, or a badge from premium website, every indicator of influence and trust on the web matters and impacts peoples' behavior online.
Because there are haves and have nots with verified accounts, democratization takes a back seat. Now some people will accelerate their growth – not because of the value they provide their network – but because they have a little green or blue check mark. That check mark decries “I'm more important than everyone else” and, as a result, will accelerate fans and following.
If you don't believe me, you don't understand the egos in this business. People are scrambling to get these verified accounts… even with no indication that anyone is utilizing their identity inappropriately. They're scrambling to get them because they know that a little green or blue checkmark is gold. It will lead to a greater following, more speaking and writing opportunities, and – ultimately – more business. Not because of personal merit, but because of a visible checkmark.
Open the verification process to anyone who wants it. Just as we apply for SSL certificates or a Google+ business, put a methodology in place where everyone has the opportunity to verify their identity. Do it for everyone, or don't do it at all.