the tree x How to navigate Meta verified
In the face of Twitter’s paid verification scheme, Meta’s following suit. But will consumer opinion be enough to change the platform’s course?
Social media has been a pay-to-play game for ages. With paid advertising reigning supreme and influencer deals drawing engagement that a masterful organic calendar could only hope to achieve, money makes the platforms go ‘round. Increasing crackdowns on bot followers mean that platforms have held follower count as the last survivor in the flood of artificial popularity – until now.
Twitter’s first step forward
Last year, Twitter’s infamous owner, Elon Musk, instituted a paid verification scheme, where anyone – and we mean anyone – could pay $8 per month to gain the elusive blue tick. After a content moderation mare consisting of fake accounts, inflammatory tweets and a few excellent memes to boot, sentiment surrounding the change is lacklustre at best.
To combat a rapid decline in usership, Twitter Blue altered their policy to grandfather in classic verifications until Nov 2022.
Read more: November 2022 Social Shake
Meta makes up for lost time
Despite the negative reaction to its blue feathered friend, Meta recently announced a test of Meta Verified on Facebook and Instagram.
Users can pay to receive a ‘verification badge’ that will use a government ID to authenticate accounts. The platform claims that the update exists to help up-and-coming creators grow while eliminating the fake-account craze that Twitter encountered.
Instagram and Facebook verification on the web will be initially priced at $11.99 per month while verification on IOS and Android apps will be $14.99 per month.
Why would Meta hop on the bandwagon of Twitter’s ‘worst’ idea?
When user opinion fails to make an impact on platform choices, when does marketing morph into pandering to the channel rather than the viewer?
Meta’s ultimate ‘reasoning’ for this choice is explained as ‘helping up-and-coming creators.’ However, after a bad bet on the metaverse, Zuckerberg is no less flush with income than Musk appears to be. So, many are questioning whether this choice is a cash grab, rather than an altruistic bid to help micro-influencers gain fame. Regardless of the justification, this decision is raising eyebrows – but will consumer distaste be enough to change the outcome?
Let’s look at this situation through the lens of popular culture. Following the widespread drama of eyebrow-gate 2023, Hailey Bieber lost millions of followers. TikTok is chock-full of anti-Bieber memes while pro-Selena Gomez rhetoric is flooding socials. It appears that Hailey has fallen from grace. But at the end of the day, Mrs. Bieber retains close to 50 million followers on Insta, a multi-million dollar skincare company and a variety of other clout-worthy accolades.
So, despite the fact that the Bieber name is currently met with cringe, the crux of Hailey’s fame and fortune has remained primarily unchanged. All press is good press, right?
Similarly, Twitter can receive calls of ‘sell out’ till the cows come home – they’re still creeping toward a revenue comeback with drastically increased Twitter Blue subscribers, press mentions and users vying for that elusive check mark. So, the better question - why wouldn’t Meta follow suit?
What does this mean for you?
The blue-tick was once the true indicator of popularity. Its medallion meant that you were liked, admired and, above all, followed. Though the escalating pay-to-play game may gradually decrease its meaning, brands and users still need it – and are willing to buy it.
As marketers, we must keep our ears to the ground as we watch the social landscape fluctuate. In the end, this issue is more complex than a distaste for artificial notoriety. Platforms are up against the wall financially – and consumer voices appear to be fading into the background.
As this process unfolds, we must turn to the data. Yes, brands don’t want to pay for verification. But that doesn’t mean that 300 million daily active users aren’t awaiting your content. And it certainly doesn’t mean that brands can excuse themselves from advertising on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram during the height of the social revolution. So, will Meta face the same sweeping backlash? Only time will tell.
What do we know? Strategic agility means more than constantly changing – it also means reading between the lines and responding accordingly.