Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Do Your Community Members Deserve a Badge?

Social media badges are not a brand-new phenomenon. I have an impressively interactive badge on the right sidebar from the Pickens Plan community. I downloaded it because I like the community and I like the message of the badge, not because it does me any particular good. I was interested to see a new application by the Huffington Post over the weekend.

In doing research, however, I came across careless use of the term. There are quite a few writers and sites that use “badge” to identify the “this site is a member of Facebook” app like this one that you can get from many social networks. The purpose of these apps is to link you through to your page on the social network. That makes them a chiclet (note proper spelling!), not a badge as HuffPost, the Pickens Plan and others are using the term.

According to my friends at Overdrive Interactive, who have an excellent white paper on the use of chiclets, “Chiclets enable a user to quickly share web content by automatically posting articles, photos, video, and other content to their blog (WordPress, Blogger, TypePad), public bookmark page (Digg, Delicious), or social profile (Facebook, Twitter).” You can download the white paper from the Overdrive home page.

Badges have a different, and perhaps a more personal, use. CNET likens them to the efforts many of us made in Boy or Girl Scouts to collect merit badges for various accomplishments.

According to CNET, the current craze for badges started with Foresquare and the competition of its users to earn status in the community. The HuffPost application rewards its most engaged users by making their comments more visible. There are various levels of activity, which they outline on a FAQs page. For example, a member can become “Moderator” by flagging objectionable commentary on the site. As Bryan Person pointed out last week, sites are either overlooking or falling behind in the important activity of moderation. Encouraging help from their members is an excellent approach. Rewarding them in a visible way for their help seems equally desirable.
Not incidentally, the application for a badge results in the applicant linking their Facebook or Twitter account to HuffPost. The publication is cagey about how they will or won’t use that info, but the FAQs do point out that “the shift in privacy is very minimal.” Not sure exactly what that means, but it worries me about as much as people who complain that their privacy has been violated on other social networks. Social networks aren’t a place for those who zealously guard their privacy!

HuffPost is clear that its current effort is intended to increase member engagement with the site. Why can’t the concept be extended in a way that rewards members for desired behavior. That makes it like a CRM loyalty program. Why is that not a good idea? The Tesco Clubcard is the classic example of a vibrant online loyalty program, but I don’t know any firm that’s using a “proud member of” type badge as a tie-in with its loyalty program.

Maybe we’re thinking too much about social media as an acquisition tool and not enough about its potential value as a CRM tool. What are your thoughts?


Business Plan said...

Thanks a lot for a bunch of good tips. I look forward to reading more on the topic in the future. Keep up the good work! This blog is going to be great resource. Love reading it

seo package said...

i think they deserve a badge, depending on how active they are in the community..

marketing adelaide said...

It is great to read some of the information and feedback, here. I hope to read more ideas in the future!!!