Want to know how to get verified on Instagram? I can’t guarantee my formula will work for you, but it worked for me. The crazy thing is that I tried for years to get verified and couldn’t make it happen, and then I changed ONE THING and within days I had the coveted blue badge (I’ll reveal the one thing that made all the difference below).
I’m not going to waste your time going through all the reasons why you might want to get verified on Instagram—if you’re here reading this post, you already know you want it, right? Instead, I’ll dive into the steps I took. Note: I took many of the right steps without knowing it at the time, but I’ll share it the way it happened so you can see my process and then improve upon it for yourself.
Step #1: Get a Bunch of PR
I didn’t go out and engage in public relations because I wanted to get verified, I did it because I needed the PR to save my business, but that’s another story. Suffice it to say, in 2013 I wrote an article that Fast Company published, which led to a column in Forbes. And from 2013 to 2016, I wrote, ghostwrote, or was featured in over 300 articles in more than two dozen publications including Time, Fortune, Entrepreneur, Inc., TechCrunch, and Mashable. (I’ve since been in a lot more like CNN, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, but those came after I got verified on Instagram).
BTW, if you need help getting press to prep for your Instagram verification attempt, Canvas has a PR package specifically for social media verification and we guarantee our work (none of this monthly retainer w/ambiguous promises of results stuff).
Step #2: Get Verified On Other Platforms
I got verified on Twitter years ago (don’t follow me, that’s where I post all my political rants and since I’m a libertarian that means I disagree with everyone so you’re pretty much guaranteed to not like what I say). Don’t ask me how, I don’t remember and it’s probably a different process today. All I remember is I applied, used my media profiles as proof I was not to be trifled with, and they gave me the blue check. What kills me about that is I have friends with 10x the followers I do, and 100x the engagement, and they still don’t have a blue check. What’s with that?! I really shouldn’t have one, but whatever, I’ll take it.
I then got verified on Facebook by creating a page for myself and…, well, I wish I could remember exactly how I got verified, but I don’t remember that, either. What I can tell you is that I’ve never been super on top of my Facebook game, so it wasn’t that I had a ton of followers on Facebook and lots of engagement, quite the opposite.
Wait, “motivational speaker?” I don’t remember choosing that.
Does getting verified on other platforms help with Instagram verification? I don’t know for sure, but I know other people say it does so I’m including it as one of my steps.
Step #3: Submit Instagram Verification Application
So then I applied, and…didn’t hear back.
Verified everywhere else? Instagram doesn’t care.
Hundreds of top-tier PR mentions? No response.
So I applied again, and again, and again. I applied a bunch of times over several years, and Insta be like…
Step #4: Give Up
I figured after several tries, probably around ten, I just wasn’t Instagram-verification-badge-worthy. At least my mom and Twitter still thought I was cool.
Every year or two, I would meet someone who was verified and ask them how they did it, or I would find a new blog post on the topic, but I couldn’t get any new information.
Step #5: Get A Google Knowledge Graph Panel
Between 2016 and 2021, when I got verified, I also picked up a Google knowledge graph panel. This is the information that pops up on the right side of a Google search, like this:
Apparently, it’s so hard to get one of these that only Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Oprah, me, and a few million other people have one. Also, apparently, if you have one of these it’s easier to get verified on Instagram, except that after I got one, I tried again to get verified, and once again, it didn’t work.
That’s not to say it’s not helpful (which is why we include getting you a Google knowledge graph panel as part of our social media verification package at Canvas PR), it just wasn’t enough. (our package now also includes a Wikipedia page from a real editor, but while that will help, I can also tell you it’s not enough to get verified on Instagram)
And then, the heavens opened, choirs of angels sang, and…(this is where I share the ONE THING that made all the difference), my friend Larry Kim sent me this blog post he wrote up on MobileMonkey’s blog about how to get verified on Instagram.
Step #6: Do What Larry Says And Get A Friend
Reading Larry’s post on Instagram verification, I came across this tip:
Did I have any friends at Facebook? I wasn’t sure…but wait! Yes, I did remember I had a friend I hadn’t talked to in a year or two, and didn’t he work at Facebook? And didn’t my step-mother-in-law have a sister who worked at Facebook? And what about LinkedIn, could it be that I was connected there to other people who worked at Facebook?
I did a quick search on LinkedIn and found I had over ten first connections on LinkedIn who currently worked at Facebook. I chose one, the friend I remember worked there, and sent him this email (this isn’t the full email, of course I included some pleasantries at the beginning, this is just the relevant part):
I’ve got a favor to ask, and maybe the answer is a quick “no” and that’s fine. I’ve been trying to get verified on Instagram for years, and a friend of mine who’s verified said the only way to get in these days (other than being ultra famous) is to have a friend at Facebook submit your name to an internal system. Exactly what he said was, “FB employees have an internal portal where they can submit you to be verified on Facebook. They can’t guarantee that you’ll be approved, but they can guarantee that your application will be reviewed and taken seriously, and in an expedited manner.”
Do you know anything about this? Is this something you’d be willing to do for me if it’s something you’re able to do?
Again, if it’s a bother, feel free to say no, no worries. Thanks!
Here’s the info I was told to provide:
Instagram Verification for Josh Steimle (@joshsteimle)
Other Verified Accounts:
Google: If you search “Josh Steimle” it triggers a “Knowledge Graph Panel”
Social Media Accounts:
Approximately 40k Followers on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshuasteimle/
Full list at https://joshsteimle.com/press, includes coverage in:
Search Engine Journal
Search Engine Land
My friend wrote back a few days later with this:
Hey Josh, thanks for reaching out!
Here’s the response I got internally:
I wrote back:
Thanks for looking into this! Am I supposed to submit through the app, or send it through you? I’ve attached my ID just in case it goes through you.Thanks!
And he wrote back:
I believe through the app.
And then I wrote back:
Cool, I just resubmitted. They’ve changed the process since the last time I did it.
Do you think it would help for you to just reply to them and say I resubmitted?
The anticipation was killing me. I felt like Ralphie.
My friend wrote back:
Yup, I told them you resubmitted!
And then, just eight days after my friend sent that last email, and a mere twenty days after I reached out to my friend, I saw the verification badge appear on my Instagram profile!
Note: Some people have reached out to tell me they have a friend at Facebook or Instagram who’s willing to help them submit their request, but they don’t know where to do it. I asked my Facebook friend how he submitted my name, and here’s what he said:
I posted the info you sent me internally in a group called IG Public Verification Feedback. They looked into it and asked that you resubmit, as you remember. And then they granted verification after reviewing your account for notability and eligibility criteria.
Btw, if you haven’t already done so, they also recommend that you set up 2-factor auth since verified accounts are more targeted by bad actors.
Now you know.
Step #7: Be Grateful
I thanked my friend for helping me get the inside track on my Instagram verification application, I thanked Larry for his blog post that led me to the secret I didn’t know about, and I didn’t thank Instagram because I didn’t know how and it’s just a faceless entity, it doesn’t care.
Benefits of Getting Verified On Instagram
When I first got verified, nobody seemed to notice. It wasn’t as though a flood of people suddenly came my way. Then again, I wasn’t super active or strategic on Instagram. I mostly post photos of books I’ve read or beautiful sights I see while out trail running. I haven’t made an effort to build a business on Instagram, nor a lead-generation machine. Maybe I should, but I’ve got other fish to fry at the moment.
The first time it came up was when I got connected with a local rug dealer and when I showed up to get my fix, she said, “So, I saw you’re verified on Instagram…” and then of course, she wanted to know how to do it.
What I will say is that now, when I comment on someone else’s post, my comment will get more attention since it shows as verified, and I have seen a noticeable uptick in engagement on my not-so-on-brand posts. In other words, Instagram verification hasn’t changed my world. However, if Instagram is mission-critical for your business, as I know it is for some of our clients, and you’ve built everything around it, then verification can make a big difference to your bottom line. Is it crazy to say getting Instagram verification will double your business next year? Maybe, but maybe not.
Got any questions about Instagram verification, especially how to get PR for it?