With Twitter about to make its next big push to boost take-up of its paid verification program, with the removal of ‘legacy’ blue ticks, many users are now questioning whether they should consider signing up, while brands too are considering if it’s worth forking out for a shiny new checkmark.
And the answer is, it depends. There are a lot of factors that will likely weigh into your decision, and we don’t yet know what the full impacts of this new push will be, and what it may mean for tweet reach, performance, etc.
As such, there could be benefit - but then again, the new Verification for Organizations program (i.e. gold checkmarks) is probably too pricey for most businesses to even consider either way.
To help, here’s an overview of some of the key considerations that’ll likely factor into your decision on this element.
First off, to clarify, there are currently three different checkmark options in the app.
- Twitter Blue (blue checkmark) costs $8 per month, and is designed for individuals, though brands can also sign up to the program, at least at this stage.
- Verification for Organizations (gold checkmark) is aimed at bigger brands, to ensure brand recognition and reputation in the app. Along with gold checkmarks, you also get a square profile image, and a brand logo icon alongside that, while you can also allocate blue checkmark verification to chosen staff profiles in the app. But it’ll cost you. Verification for Organizations is currently priced at $1000 per month, plus an additional $50 per month for every staff member or profile that you tag as an affiliate.
- Verification for Government (gray checkmark) is only available to government-affiliated accounts only, and thus, not in discussion in this context.
The first consideration is direct benefits, and what you get from each program. This, I would suggest, is likely less of a factor in your decision making at this stage, because these benefits have been available for months, and Twitter Blue take-up has still been relatively low.
If you were going to pay for these add-ons, you would have already done so - but to clarify:
- Twitter Blue gives you tweet editing, longer video uploads, longer tweets, and eventually, priority display in tweet reply chains. That last element could be a significant consideration - but we don’t know how significant as yet because it hasn’t been released.
- Verification for Organizations gives you access to a new dashboard where you can manage your brand account, along with a new tab on your profile that lists all the affiliate accounts linked to your business. You also get premium support, with prioritized responses from Twitter’s team, along with all the features of Twitter Blue (as noted above).
Again, most of these elements have been available for some time, so they may not sway you one way or another, but this gives you a clear overview of what’s specifically on offer for your subscription payment.
So first off, what happens if you don’t pay for verification?
As noted, as of this weekend, Twitter’s going to start removing ‘legacy’ blue checkmarks in the app - so if you or your business has a blue tick, and you want to keep it, you’ll have to pay $8.
The immediate impact will be that, from next week, the only checkmarks left in the app will belong to paying subscriber accounts, but in two weeks time, the expanded shift will see only tweets from accounts with a checkmark appearing in ‘For You’ feed recommendations.
The impacts of that change are not clear. Twitter only added the ‘For You’ feed in January this year, so it hasn’t been around, in its current iteration, for very long, though Twitter has been inserting algorithmically recommended tweets into user timelines for years.
But it’s been pushing a lot more tweets from users you don’t follow into that stream for the last few months, and because of this, the actual reach and exposure impacts are hard to predict, because we don’t know how much additional exposure users are getting from the ‘For You’ feed display, nor do we have data on how many users default into ‘For You’, as opposed to the ‘Following’ stream.
But it could reduce tweet reach and response – though on the other hand, in terms of direct referral traffic, Twitter’s never been a great driver for most websites anyway.
Back in January, Digiday published a new report which showed that Twitter referral traffic to publisher websites, which was already low, actually declined even further in 2022.
As per Digiday:
“For the whole of 2022, referral traffic from Twitter dipped by 20% year over year, according to data from publisher analytics firm Chartbeat which includes 1,200 sites that are Chartbeat customers in the News and Media category.”
This data does relate to publisher sites, specifically, and results will vary for different businesses. But historic traffic data has shown that Twitter is not a big driver of direct referral traffic either way, and as such, paying to stay in the ‘For You’ feed may not actually be worth it.
But if you generate a lot of clicks or referrals from your tweets, maybe that’s a different story – and there is also a value to brand presence, and getting your logo in front of people in the app.
Is that worth $8 per month to see whether that props up your Twitter stats?
Another consideration here could be reduced competition – with only a fraction of Twitter’s user base paying for Twitter Blue (less than 2% at present), that could mean that Twitter’s algorithms will be looking for more content to push into the ‘For You’ feed, in order to keep users scrolling for as long as possible.
That could make this a good opportunity to pay your $8, and get your tweets into that stream, which is another option to weigh up in your planning.
But then again, reports have also suggested that Twitter’s going gift gold checkmarks to its top 500 advertisers, and the top 10,000 most-followed organizations in the app, as a means to boost take-up - which could actually mean that your competitors are going to get priority exposure as a result.
That might also lessen the value of this for exposure, as the competition will be much higher than the 450k people who’ve currently signed up to Twitter Blue.
There’s no official confirmation on this aspect as yet, but it would make sense for Twitter to do this, as a form of peer pressure to get more organizations to sign up.
A Worthy Investment?
As noted, the answer on whether you should pay for a Twitter verification tick or not will come down to your own specific business, and how much you rely on Twitter, and what it actually means to get more exposure in the app.
It seems, at present, like a lot of brands are not going to pay up – but if 10k of them are getting a checkmark for free anyway, that may not matter, as the result will be the same, with a lot of organizations getting priority exposure in the app, depending on how users interact with the main feed.
It could be worth an experiment, though if Twitter does eventually look to push all brands across to the more expensive, gold tick program, that would be a totally different discussion, and I suspect most businesses would immediately be priced out in that case.
There’s no indication that Twitter’s going to do that as yet. So maybe it’s something to test?
Then again, there is also an inherent risk that even having a checkmark next to your profile could end up being seen as a negative, a desperate bid to gain attention in the app.
I have a feeling that this could end up being the case, and profiles that are paying could in fact be disregarded as a result.
I mean, Twitter is essentially devaluing the blue tick by selling it either way, so the exclusivity or authority of the tick is about to go out the window anyway.
We’ll find out soon. Twitter’s set to start removing legacy blue ticks from this week.