Verified “influencers” on social media platforms can make a pretty penny selling access to their influence.
Verification on most platforms is hotly coveted, but for a well-known person or brand to get the blue checkmark on Facebook or Twitter is a fairly straightforward process. However, with Instagram the process is entirely different.
Mashable took an in-depth look at the world of shady black market deals for that coveted Instagram verification.
Instagram often gets lumped into one sentence with Twitter and its parent company Facebook. While every social platform that exists doubles as an advertising platform, on Instagram the line blurs heavily. For some influencers, to be on Instagram is to advertise, with no clear line between “a person” and “a brand.”
Verified accounts are a lot more coveted with the platform’s massive audience, and are more likely to show up in search results. Owners of those accounts also get access to extra features. The point of all that is there is money to be made simply by getting attention on Instagram, and verified accounts can get users more attention.
One verification-selling middleman tells Mashable that he’s sold access for anywhere from $1,500 to $7,000. He is not the one inside Instagram granting the magic blue icon, however, he has a contact that does. That Instagram employee charges $1,200 per checkmark.
The middleman charges whatever he likes to someone who comes to him, because he can make a profit based on what he perceives as the needs of the user seeking it. He tells Mashable he’s sold five verified badges this year. The middleman said that he has heard of Instagram employees losing their jobs for selling verification, although Instagram did not comment.
Another source said that he has known that person to sell verification badges for $3,000 to $7,000. A third seller says that he usually sells verification for $5000 to $8000, with 60% to 80% going to the employee who does the deed.
Instagram has limited the number of accounts it will mark verified in recent years, and so even black marketers have to move slowly and take their time. Instagram has declined to comment on the matter.