Why Your City Needs Verified Twitter & Facebook Accounts
[See below for links to the official Verification application forms for Facebook and Twitter]
On Twitter and Facebook, there is only one visual clue that lets users know your account is “official” — a tiny white checkmark on a blue background. Once upon a time, this little image was only of concern to celebrities and global brands: social media giants who needed to squash would-be parody accounts and impersonators. But recently, Facebook and Twitter have opened the doors of “verification” to government entities, and you had better take advantage.
Having a Verified Twitter and/or Facebook account is especially important in times of community crisis. During natural disasters, for example, people are increasingly turning to social media to broadcast their personal safety and/or to ensure the safety of their friends and family. Of those Americans affected by natural disasters, 76% used social media to contact friends and family; 37% used social media to help find shelter and supplies; and 24% used social media to let loved ones know they’re safe. 
The U.S. Department of Energy notes four particular challenges with using social media for disaster response, though the most challenging issue is that “inaccurate information can spread quickly on social media.”  With a Verified account, your city can leverage its status as a trusted resource to set records straight, broadcast alerts, and otherwise keep the public safe and informed.
A Verified account can also help city governments and law enforcement departments combat willful misinformation when community relations are fragile. During the recent riots in Baltimore in response to the death of Freddie Gray, nearly 100 parody and impersonation accounts were spreading misinformation simultaneously.  Baltimore officials noted that cutting through that misinformation required significant effort that took away from investigations of legitimate threats. Posting timely information from a Verified account can minimize the negative effect these kinds of accounts can have.
In addition to helping you maintain control of your messaging during crises, social media has become a popular entry point to two-way dialogue with citizens. 34% of Americans have contacted a government official or spoken out in a public forum via online methods — citizen engagement is becoming an increasingly digital practice.  By Verifying your Twitter and Facebook accounts, you are making it easier for your community to quickly identify and engage with your official communication channels.
Don’t wait until a crisis hits to Verify your social media accounts. We have included the links to the Verification forms for Twitter and Facebook below. But, if you would like any assistance setting up Verification on Twitter and Facebook, or if you need a fresh approach to your city’s social media strategy, our social media experts at Tripepi Smith would be happy to help.
- Official application form for a Verified Twitter account
- Official submission form for a Verified Facebook Page (Note: you may upload tax-exempt ID letters in lieu of Articles of Incorporation)