The Rise of The Badge

I’m becoming increasingly intrigued by our use of social media to collect stuff. Be it Foursquare badges or Getglue stickers, we want it, and we want to boast about it to show how cool we are.

The process of identity definition through social media (ie liking a brand on Facebook) has expanded to demonstrating that we know how to have a good time, and where to go to have it.

Foursquare is growing and is the cool thing *right now* – Facebook Places, as Facebook deals develops, will surely replace it – but is the perfect example of how we use badges to demonstrate facets of our character.

By obtaining a badge, you are showing that you a) excel at something b) visit or take part in something regularly, or c) have an exaggerated interest in something.

Badges are the latest form of Internet currency.

I am a guru of Idlewild on Getglue, so by default, the Getglue algorithm reckons I have earned the right to be highlighted as ‘an expert’ because I have completed several associated actions AND had social recognition from within the Idlewild network.

One-off badges play to this, asking users to complete an action set within certain parameters to obtain something that may be unique or unavailable after a certain period of time. You have to interact to earn the currency to prove you are a useful member of the social network, or within the sphere of influence associated with that object.

Fighting off Foursquare fatigue has been combated with incentives, growth in mobile pervasiveness has led to a growing userbase and it turns out that
ease of use is most important to to users, rather than the process of connecting socially, which is after all, what we’re all here for.

And, of course, there are guides to picking up badges on Foursquare, so you can falsely claim to be an influential user within whatever network it is you’re trying to affect.

It’s intriguing that we fall into this, and now we look to unify all of our ‘achievements’ across each network, into one venue, such as Score.ly, to show-off even further.

I’m really interested to know what you make of this, and if you know of any research that details this human behaviour, hoarding, in the digital space.

2 thoughts on “The Rise of The Badge

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention The Rise of The Badge | Seldom Seen Kid -- Topsy.com

  2. I registered for Foursquare a few years although didn’t really get into using it until about September last year. Unlike the woman in FS fatigue article, I quite like unlocking the badges (particularly if it happens unexpectedly with a badge you didn’t know about, like I experienced yesterday morning…), however, I’ve reached the point I’m beginning to wonder if Foursquare are going to introduce new features as, well, once you’ve checked in, taken a look at where your friends are then there isn’t really a lot else to do…

    I think mobile social media is going to continue to take on more elements of “collection”, achievement and light gaming (look at Waze for instance) to differentiate themselves from the Facebooks of this world.

    RE: Foursquare need to up their game lest they be blown off the map (excuse the pun) by the behemoth that is Facebook check-ins (which I don’t really use I might add).

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