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Social media’s highly coveted and symbolic blue checkmark has become increasingly important for entrepreneurs. That little blue checkmark gives you instant credibility and massive authority in your space.

Becoming a verified public figure can dramatically change your business by opening doors and opportunities for you that were previously unattainable. A verified profile will help you to expand your network, ensure your DMs get opened by other public figures and celebrities, establish yourself as a trustworthy brand and increase your audience reach. However, despite the misconceptions, you cannot buy it — well, unless it’s Twitter.

I have been verified for over eight years and have helped many entrepreneurs get verified. Unfortunately, I have also seen many get denied because they pursue shortcuts and look for quick fixes. Verification is a privilege you must earn.

Your brand identity is at the heart of the verification process. If you want to be a public figure, you have to present yourself as one. If you don’t have a brand identity worthy of verification, invest in the process now. Doing so will provide a return on investment far beyond the verification process. Implementing these strategies can help you build a brand identity that captures attention and leads to social media verification.

Related: Twitter Launches Gold Check Mark With Relaunch of Subscription Program, Twitter Blue

Secure professional photos

Every public figure must do a high-quality, professional photoshoot regardless of industry. High-quality headshots and lifestyle images you can use for content give you a distinct advantage over your competitors because brand identity is visual. A headshot or profile image is often the first visual impression somebody has of you and your brand online.

Invest in a photographer specializing in editorial photography to ensure you can use your images for social media content and in media publications. If your business is product based, be sure to capture images of your product in action. In addition, professional photography can strengthen your chances of getting covered by the media.

Manage your online reputation

Next, focus on establishing an aesthetically pleasing brand identity across all channels. How you present yourself is how others will see you, so it’s essential to be mindful when building a brand identity. Profile pictures should be professional. Whether you use your headshot or your brand’s logo, they should represent who you are and what you do. Your bio should clearly articulate why you are notable and include your website or brand tagline.

Once you have established your profile images and bios, it is time to take inventory of your content. Archive or delete any content that will prevent your verification. Remove any comments or posts that are unprofessional or do not represent you in the best light. If your content or comments violate the community guidelines or would likely be censored, it will also prevent verification.

Aligning social media content with a brand identity can help an entrepreneur establish credibility and authority on a given topic or niche because they provide value to their audience. Reputation management online can also help you reach a better target audience and quality of users and, therefore, secure better opportunities to drive your business goals.

Related: Trying to Get Verified on Social Media? Here’s What You Need to Know.

Press coverage

One of the biggest misconceptions is that all press is good and that you can build it up over time. That is an outdated belief in general, but especially regarding verification. You need the media and the general public to talk about you. Therefore, press coverage must be current, relevant and from reputable and top-tier outlets.

Many types of press and news coverage exist, but you need your name and photo in highly reputable and “big” publications and outlets to count toward the verification process. Getting this type of press coverage from respected media provides the third-party validation you need to establish credibility and nurture your brand identity. To maximize the benefits of this press coverage, focus your efforts on publications in your specific niche or industry.

You can get featured in these top-tier publications in a few different ways. An excellent place to start is by introducing yourself to media contacts, submitting thought leadership articles or sending pitches accompanied by high-quality images of yourself and your business. If you’re having trouble getting into more prominent print publications, targeting niche podcasts, radio and local news outlets can help you gain the traction you need to secure coverage in more desirable outlets.

Remember that regardless of the publication or outlet, you must provide value for the outlet’s audience to ensure coverage. Have a good story, be vulnerable and share actionable insights for others to learn from.

Related: Hesitant to Use Social Media for Your Business? Here’s What You’re Missing Out On.

Hire a public figure coach

Hiring a coach can be one of the most impactful things you do for your business. The most successful celebrities and CEOs all have coaches and mentors they rely on. A public figure coach specializes in all aspects of your public persona across all channels, platforms and mediums.

Working with a coach specializing in public figures provides you with a competitive advantage in navigating the verification process from building your social following, turning your followers into customers and creating the brand and brand awareness you need to become verified. In addition, a public figure coach can help you leverage your verified status to generate business and networking opportunities that will drive growth for your brand and revenue.

From building your brand to creating value and authenticating yourself as a unique product, social media verification is key to unlocking endless opportunities that can help you succeed in your endeavors. If you include these steps in your strategy to become verified, you will see results. It may not happen overnight, but implementing these guidelines will help you strengthen your profile and build a following that engages with your business on and offline.

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