By Hannah Rainford, SEO & Social Analyst, www.jellyfish.co.uk

Just two years ago, social media was thought to be largely superfluous unless you were a large brand, concerned with reputation management. More recently, it has become essential for businesses to not only have a website but also engage with their customers through a comprehensive social media presence. SEO & Social Analyst Hannah Rainford explains the benefits for companies becoming active on social media sites such as Twitter and how to go about getting verified.

In the last 12 months search engines such as Google and Bing have made a concrete effort to deliver the most authentic search results by adjusting requirements for web quality. Whereas websites were previously judged on how many links it had on its page, a company’s ranking on a search engine site can be aided by how socially integrated its web page is, based upon its presence on sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

In particular, Twitter has taken off as the most popular avenue for companies to engage with its customers online, regardless of its specific industry or market. Companies and consumers are able to interact closer than ever before and engage in direct dialogue. With this increased engagement however there is also a dark side. Impostors can fraudulently create Twitter accounts claiming to be celebrities, high-profile individuals, and even companies to send out false tweets to the online community.

To address this issue, Twitter developed ‘verified status’, the ‘blue tick’, which is a badge on a Twitter account which signifies that Twitter has established its authenticity. The ‘blue tick’ is most commonly used for celebrities and high-profile individuals as they typically do not have the same advantage that companies do in terms of linking their Twitter page back to a website. The verified badge helps users to distinguish legitimate sources of information for their followers.

Unfortunately, neither companies nor celebrities can verify their own page. Twitter has full discretion as to whom they will verify on its own proactive basis. There are, however, several key tips to bear in mind when a company hopes to get verified on Twitter.

Link your Twitter profile to an official website. Remember to include the Twitter’s follow button on your web page so that even if you are not selected to be verified your followers will still be able to find your official twitter feed.

Build your case. The majority of accounts on Twitter are verified because there have been fraudulent accounts set up which are discrediting a brand’s messaging. If this is the case, you must make sure to document and report impostors and false tweets to Twitter and explain your case for needing that blue tick. Tweet @verified or e-mail the help centre for more details.

Advertise. Twitter won’t guarantee verification, but it is acknowledged unofficially in the online community that companies have a much better chance of being verified if they advertise heavily on Twitter. Unfortunately there is no guarantee that you will see a return on your investment.

At the end of the day, the blue tick is not the ‘be all or end all’ for your company’s social media presence online. It is much more important to take other considerations into account when developing your Twitter page, such as determining your niche and developing a targeted, planned approach which engages with your customers. By developing an integrated social media presence linking your Twitter page to your website, you have a much greater chance not only of increasing brand recognition and improving your search engine rankings, but also being verified on Twitter without having to put your case forward.

As the SEO & Social Analyst at Jellyfish UK, Hannah is responsible for identifying opportunities within the digital landscape for clients, managing the implementation and reporting of activity across social platforms and communicating these internally across channels. For further insight on SEO and Social Media, Hannah also blogs at www.jellyfish.co.uk/agency/blog/