“You just unlocked the Day Tripper Badge!”
As of today, Bulbstorm has incorporated badges into our Idea Challenges application for Facebook promotions.
Badges, trophies and other virtual goods have been popping up all over. Foursquare usually gets credit for fanning the fire, but they didn’t start it. Regular table top or console games have been using badges and levels for generations, and for good reasons.
Here are three reasons badges matter to gamers…and to social media marketers:
Reason 1: Badges show us how far we’ve come
Badges are symbols of how far we’ve progressed within the game and are a part of what is called “game mechanics,” or the theories and practices that make games fun and addicting.
Reason 2: Badges can be the goal
Badges do more than just remind us of what we’ve done. They reward us. Badge systems in games provide the same kind of positive reinforcement that sew-on badges do for Boy Scouts.
These rewards aren’t as intangible as you might think, either. They stay on the player’s digital profile as a decoration, just like a physical trophy sits on a fireplace mantel. All visitors to the player’s profile see the player’s accomplishments.
Marketing Implication: By tying badges to a user action you can incent more user actions like inviting friends or sharing content.
Reason 3: They make it very easy to brag
Everyone likes to brag. It is human nature to want to show off, but saying, “I have 750 points on Idea Challenges. I’m awesome!” is not fulfilling. That’s just an action with no recognition.
Better is, “I unlocked the Plush Toy Badge. I’m amazing!” Someone out there has recognized the action and rewarded it with a badge. The player gets a sense of fulfillment and a talking point with his friends by publishing the badge to his wall or Tweeting about it.
Marketing Implication: When the user talks about the badge, he is talking about your brand.
What it all means for social media marketers
Because badges can increase a player’s engagement with the game, and thus a brand, they are a powerful marketing tool. They hook users, reward them for actions like sharing content, and encourage them to talk about their activities with the game and brand.
Which brands and platforms are doing badges right? Which are doing it all wrong? Let us know in the comments!