Instagram and Facebook are launching a paid subscription service for verification checkmarks, it was announced this week.  They add to a growing number of platforms including Twitter and Netflix either charging for once-free services or hiking rates. Should you pay for Twitter and Instagram verification? I explore the new normal of paying for things that were once free – and which ones are worth it.

Get used to paying for stuff

Meta joins the growing subscription trend – one that’s not changing. As ad revenues decline for social media platforms, they struggle with finding new areas for growth in a time of economic uncertainty.  Job cuts, rate hikes and attaching a price tag to free services are all ways media and technology companies are navigating this challenging economy.  

We’re already struggling with subscription fatigue, rising cost of basic food items like eggs and stock market volatility that make paying for services hard to justify. A survey by C+R Research, according to USA Today, shows that customers are paying $219 on average per month, more than many of us realize or are comfortable paying.  Those subscriptions opportunities are only going to rise, according to the same article.

“Companies are realizing that not all consumers are looking for all the features at the same time. This is an opportunity for them to segment the market,” said Raghuram Iyengar, marketing professor at The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania.  

The value of the check

Before, the value of the Twitter and Instagram verification badges lended legitimacy and were a sign of influence.  For certain industries, like journalism or even consumer brands, this helps establish trust with public audiences. But when a check can be sold, gone is the scarcity factor.  The more people who have one, the less important it becomes. To some, the check becomes a representation of privilege and an ability to pay rather than something earned.  Also, in this new frontier where some are willing to pay for verification and others are not, impersonators have more ability to misrepresent you. By paying for this, confusion and fraud can increase, as Will Ferrell can attest. 

To pay for Twitter and Instagram verification or not? 

If you’re wondering whether to pay for these new verification services, the decision is a platform-specific one to make.  Not all verification offerings are alike, I learned. Twitter offers very different features than Instagram. After exploring the different offerings, I learned that the value of the check is different based on how you use social media and what platform you’re on.  If you’re thinking of signing up, here are some questions to ask: 

  • Does verification positively impact your professional standing? 
  • Is verification standard within your role, industry or company?
  • Are you worried about impersonators? 
  • Do you use social media as a platform to make money or gain influence?

If the answer to those questions is a solid “yes,” then it could make sense to consider paying for the verification. 

Comparing Meta and Twitter verification products

Though only currently available as a beta in Australia and New Zealand, Meta Verified offers benefits on Instagram and Facebook for $14.99 a month or about $179 a year.

Twitter and Instagram verification
Meta press release

Part of its offering includes increased protection against impersonators and enhanced legitimacy of those accounts with verification. But, to me, the most attractive reason for subscribing to this service is the increased visibility and reach for these paying accounts – especially those accounts with a smaller following. The company says:

Increased visibility may vary depending on a subscriber’s existing audience size and the topic of their posts. Subscribers with a smaller following may see a more noticeable impact to their reach since their audiences are smaller. 

Meta press release

Twitter Blue offers a premium experience for around $11 a month or about $114 a year. For heavy Twitter users, the features can add value. They include:

  • The ability to undo and edit tweets
  • NFT profile pictures and other customization options
  • Ability to write longer tweets and post lengthier video clips
  • SMS two-factor authentication

In my research, the SMS two-factor authentication, for enhanced safety, and some prioritization of your ranking are the two reasons to consider subscribing to Twitter Blue. The safety and security that 2FA offers has become the industry standard and is worth ensuring, especially if a compromised tweet could ruin you or your company. The tweet prioritizing is also attractive, though from the company language, it is unclear whether this is a true benefit:

Also at play with Twitter Blue is the ongoing turmoil with Elon Musk and the leadership of the company. Pricing and offering changes have created confusion around the product, leaving many users on the sidelines until the future becomes more clear and stable for the company.

Overall verdict on verification:

If cost is not an issue, the security features and prioritization of your feed that Twitter and Instagram verification offers is worth it. For influencers, solopreneurs and even those with smaller followings, Meta Verified could be the first place to experiment with paying for your checkmark. The added security features and the ability to gain reach could be worth it, especially if your platforms generate business.

Have you tried Twitter Blue or Meta Verified? Let me know what you think of your experience.