Social media badges


Are social media badges, such as those used in Foursquare, on their way out? And what's next in motivating and engaging users?

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Interesting research from Yahoo research, circa 2011
Badges in Social Media: A Social Psychological Perspective

Abstract: Representing achievements as badges or trophies is a standard practice in online gaming. Awarding badges has also become a key ingredient in “gamifying” online social media experiences. Social systems such as Foursquare, StackOverflow, and Wikipedia have popularized badges as a way of engaging and motivating users. In this paper we deconstruct badges and present five social psychological functions for badges in social media contexts: goal setting, instruction, reputation, status/affirmation, and group identification. We argue that future research should further explore these five functions and their application in specific contexts.

Link to PDF:

Christopher Nerney
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As far as what's next in motivating and engaging users, it could be more gamification techniques. Here's a blog post I wrote for CITEworld about a startup that uses "emergent gamification metrics" as part of its software designed to help enterprises motivate employees and improve enterprise productivity. One would assume that gamification techniques that work on employees could be adapted to work on users and customers. The CEO of Social Lair, Padmanabh Dabke, talks about the hierarchy of gamification techniques in the company's blog (it's the second post from the top). In his hierarchy, "activity-based rewards" such as points and badges are on the lowest rung, so it stands to reason that the higher-rung techniques could be what's "next."




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I think they have become so ubiquitous that many people have become blind to them. I doubt we'll see them suddenly disappear totally, but their effectiveness may decline over time. Sites still want social media traffic though, so the badges will still be around.

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