Why aren’t Twitter accounts for utilities verified?

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amazonhelpnoreplyI noticed a status update on Facebook earlier today asking about the appearance of the Twitter stream maintained by Amazon’s customer service department, @AmazonHelp. The image accompanying the post showed there were no visible replies at all.

That’s when I noticed the “All/No replies” toggle at the top of the stream, and pointed out the image was of the “No replies” display (figuring the “All” display probably looked a lot more engaging). A quick visit to the account’s page and a click on “all” proved that statement correct.


Why am I bringing this up, anyway?

The toggle option was introduced to most verified accounts by the microblogging site in June 2012 as a way help users.

This simplified profile, which we’re rolling out to verified accounts over the coming weeks, makes it easier to understand what kind of content the user shares on Twitter, and what Tweets you’ll see if you follow them.

We live in a world where we feel we need to be sure we’re talking to the real person (or thing). I know a lot of people who look for that blue verified symbol floating in a person’s profile header as a way of legitimizing their conversations. While Amazon’s help desk account is a service customers value as it allows them to reach out and connect on their terms, I wonder if there’s a group of businesses seen as brands that would enjoy that functionality.

I’m talking about utilities, folks.

It’s still more useful (for now) to dial an 800-number to report a power outage, gas leak, or burst pipe. We are living in a 21st century world of customer service though, one where a Twitter account can be incredibly helpful in terms of getting a message out while fielding responses to those simpler concerns and issues as they arise.

I’d argue the ability to toggle off replies to followers or concerned citizens during the aftermath of a power outage at home due to a storm while at the office, for example, would go a long way toward managing expectations via a popular digital crisis communications channel. By the way – I went that specific on the example because the toggle option doesn’t appear to be available via the mobile app, so it only applies to those who’d be trying to access the profile via their laptop.

We seem to be focused on brands generating their own news. Granted, not every news outlet has a verified account either, but I’d offer a Twitter account may be a news service for some. They may not generate the amount of content a news organization like The New York Times does via its account, but I’m thinking those looking to it in those situations already mentioned would enjoy the option to view accounts that way.

There are several types of media companies that haven’t been verified by Twitter, so I’m not saying every utility should get the blue seal of approval. I am suggesting that it could be a really useful option of those power users out there.

What do you think? A better question may be “what does Michael Sippey, Twitter’s VP of product think?” – or “What will be his (& the company’s) most likely-to-be perfectly reasonable explanation for this?

That’s probably why I sent him a tweet linking to this post hoping I’d get a response. We’ll see what happens. I’m thinking companies like Con Edison and Alabama Power might find this potential conversation interesting.


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