Meta Announces Paid Verification & Blue Checks + the De-Influencing Trend - Ep. 49
March 1, 2023
Updated Feb 09, 2024
Welcome to Negronis with Nord. In today's episode, James addresses Meta Verified and the Instagram blue checkmark subscriptions before digging into de-influencing. With the trend dominating media headlines, James offers actionable advice on navigating this trend.
James: Ready? Yeah. Welcome Negronis with Nord, episode 49. Thank you for noticing. This is a new suit. Have I worn this yet?
You don't know. Haley doesn't know every single outfit that I have worn on this show, but this is a new suit. I had my friends with Jay Meuser make it great flannel. This is as close as you could probably get or as I would want to get to wearing sweatpants at work. It is the coziest warmest suit that I have had made. It's also a complete workhorse. This is like the kind of thing you can wear like twice a week and nobody knows you're wearing it twice a week, like a Navy suit or a gray flannel suit. You can just wear the ******* **** outta that. Nobody knows that you're doing it all over and over again. Anyway, we're gonna talk about de-influencing today. Hopefully for the last time, this is the topic that we'll not die. Everybody wants to talk about it, but before we do that, we are gonna talk about Meta's new verification product that they are rolling out.
Meta introduces 'Verified' pay-to-play
James: Meta continues their half a decade long tradition now of just blatantly stealing ideas from other platforms. We had to be real competitor. We had all of TikTok that we've stolen and now we're taking Elon's failed verification play and rolling it out on Instagram. It's either $11.99 or $14.99.
You're going to be able to pay to get the blue check.
Increased access to customer service.
You'll get priority ranking in search and recommendations.
Make the verification process more transparent and available to anyone.
Listen, as a verified person, one, I take offense to this, okay, my blue check fam, where are you at? Like, this is ********, right? We should be gatekeeping verification. This is not something everybody should have. You should have to have a friend who works at Instagram who can get you verified to be able to get verification. I think that is a cleaner and more fair system.
But what does it mean? It probably means most of y'all are gonna pay, you know, whether it feels like that is worth it or not. Unfair or not. Is it true that, you know, Facebook made $80 billion off of its users last year? Isn't that enough? I mean, that's a valid point. What's interesting is that if you heard the adoption on Twitter, a lot less people paid for verification than I think Elon anticipated. I've been locked outta my Twitter for two months. I know only a couple hundred thousand people had played for verification. So couching this in some idea that this is a money grab for Meta and they're gonna make all this money off of it is a bit naive given how much money they make on advertising, which is something like 30 to million dollars a minute. What is - wait - Meta makes $152,000 a minute.
$152,000 a minute. The $11.99 verification a month. It, it's not gonna make a dent. I think part of this is probably that Meta has essentially no customer service. If you anyone has tried to solve a problem with their account, you'll notice that it is really, really difficult to get someone on the line. I am experiencing the same things with Twitter as I can't get anybody to help me at Twitter get my account back. Part of it's interesting that they said part of this is increased customer service and I wonder if part of it is that having to put a lot of resources towards customer service for people's accounts, especially with impersonations. I think that this happens a lot. And so they're probably spending a lot of time shutting down impersonation accounts that are impersonating people. They are spending a lot of people resources doing that.
This is a way to offset some of that costs and also make verification available for anybody who wants to pay for it. Meaning they don't have to pay as as much attention to the, like accounts that are impersonating you since they won't rank them in search and things like that.
So I wouldn't pay too much attention to people saying, this is some big cash grab or exploiting its users and this is blah blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. The theme of this show recently is like, don't fall prey to corporate naivete. Have, you know, some understanding of how these companies and how this market works. It is important to push back against reactionary content that is designed to incite some emotion and get you ****** off about something to plug into the algorithm. It's important to have intellectual honesty and integrity and like be able to understand these problems and understand what opportunities are there and again, not get pulled into the the rage vortex that is the modern internet.
Luckily our eyebrow overlord, Adam, what's his last name? Our eyebrow overlord Adam from Instagram did tell us that those of us who have been verified before will not have to pay and our verification will hold. I wouldn't mind like a gold check or something. Adam, if you are watching, I still would like to be separated in some way from everybody else who just pays for it.
What is 'de-influencing' really? Is it the end of influencers?
James: So let's talk about de influencing. First, let me say, reporters are obsessed with this ****, okay? I have done two interviews in the last week about de influencing and they were interesting, great conversations with two reporters that I respect and we will share the articles when they come out. It is interesting how much the press has latched this. I think part of it is for traditional media, the idea that the age of the influencer and influence and influencing could be coming to an end is wildly exciting. Unfortunately, it is, it is disingenuous and not true.
I understand why people are reporting on this cause it's like, ooh, there are some people on TikTok talking about de influencing. Is this the end of influence, right? Is this, am I catching the beginning of a bigger trend that in three years will look back on and say, oh, that was the beginning, right?
And so I think some reporters are are are asking like, is this the beginning of the end? Are people sick of being advertised to? Are they sick of being told they need to buy these products? Ultimately, again, it's a valid question to ask. It is. The answer is no.
Ultimately, even if you look on TikTok that says 207 million, 210 million views, Sephora squad has over 400 million views. By the way, reporters moral of the story is if you wanna write about something, you should write about Sephora squad, 200 million views is just not a lot. You know, we were talking about the #dupes trend which is like half joke about fake knockoff products and I think half half about creating contents, showing more affordable alternatives to expensive products. That's got 2.7 billion with a B views. So dupes has 14 times dup, sorry, singular hashtag has 14 times the amount of views.
When we started talking about de influencing three or four weeks ago, it was at about 110 million views. So it's interesting that it really hasn't picked up that much steam. So my advice and thoughts around this remain the same. It is not a trend that's going to impact the consumption behavior of American consumers. It is not something that is going to change influencer marketing in any capacity. It's not something our brands are talking about. Really, it's not something that necessarily is going to impact your career.
To me, it does indicate the fact that people are connecting with it. The fact that they, it is like creating this spark in reporters and other people to talk about it. And obviously more people are writing about it because people are reading these articles. I think there is real interest in it.
How should influencers react to 'de-influencing'?
James: As influencers, we should be more conscious of the products that we recommend. We should really believe in those products. We should be honest in our recommendations. We should not take sponsored posts for products that we don't believe in. We should protect our audience. Your audience is the way you make money. You should be fiercely protective of them. Because when you start selling them ****, they don't wanna see, they're gonna stop looking. When they stop looking, the algorithm's gonna stop picking you up. When the algorithm stops picking you up, your stats are gonna fall. When that happens, less people are gonna view and it's, it's, you know, you start the death spiral and if it's been years of you just saying positive things about products, that throwing in a critique every once in a while, we'll like spark in your, in your follower's minds like, oh ****, this is a real person giving me real opinions. I'm not just getting ads constantly because I think that idea is dangerous if you're going to say something negative.
How to give honest product reviews
James: I do think there's a line between negative and nasty or honest and mean. If you truly hate hate a product, I think it's a personal choice. If you talk about that, I think there is some value in especially viral buzzy products to have counterbalances and voices that say, Hey, here's what I don't think is great about this. The idea of like yucking someone's yum is also like something to watch out for, right? Like, do I just not like this personally? Do I think this thing is fundamentally flawed? What is the right way to talk about this? Is this a relationship, a brand I want to have a relationship with? But also that it's a small industry. And again, once you tip over to being nasty, other brands might look at that, even if it's not their brand and say, Ooh, I wanna be careful about this person, right?
And that's like something that is interesting about, you know, the new kind of algorithm driven world that we live in is that this kind of rage content and, and sh*tting on a brand is gonna like maybe give you a little viral hit. But if you get known for really negative reviews of brands, no brand's gonna work with you. And you can't monetize it because you're toxic. It's a small industry and it's, it is an industry. It's a workplace. If you were a talented employee at four, let's say, and you spent all your time ******** on other people's work that, that you felt wasn't up to standard, you wouldn't, we wouldn't keep you here. We would fire you, right? Because we have like a no ******* policy. And ultimately we believe that no matter how talented you are, if you're an ******* that like, we don't wanna work with you.
And so again, you just have to watch that line. Make sure that you're not, like, you're not playing into the TikTok, especially the TikTok rage engine to get views in the short term, which make it hard for you to have a career in the long term. You're thinking about decades of doing this. How are you going to build a career over decades? Not how am I gonna get a video to pop off in the next week? That's the, that's the mindset of, of someone that's truly gonna win in this space and be able to build a career.
It's hard when somebody sends you a product to say, Hey, I didn't love this thing again, why encourage you to go out and buy products that you wanna review and try and be honest about those things? I think it'll go a long way in making sure that community stays engaged with you, that you continue to hold their trust.
And so this stuff is important. Individual choices that you make have consequences. And as we said, there's no silver bullet one post that's gonna ruin your career. We saw that with Mikayla who will continue to do fine even though she created controversy, right? But death by a thousand paper cuts, right? Like this idea that like if you keep doing it, it will eventually have an impact. And you'll be looking around in a couple years saying, what happened to my reach? What happened to my audience? I can't reach my audience anymore. This is ********. And you'll be blaming it on TikTok or Instagram or or whoever we're blaming. You should be fiercely defensive if that audience is trust. And once you lose it, you have lost your ability to monetize it. And your career in this space is over.