There was a time when a glittery, gold star sticker was all the praise you needed for doing your homework or making your bed. There was something about that tiny spot of color that made going that extra mile worth it and that mentality holds true today — with a twist. These days, the prize is a virtual sticker or badge that shows your social media buddies that you’ve done something special.
Online communities such as FourSquare, GetGlue and CBS.com all offer virtual sticker incentives for performing a series of actions on the site. They have no monetary value and yet people will go out of their way to earn them. Why?
The answer seems to lie in the natural competitive nature of human beings. We like to show off. We like to have something our co-worker doesn’t have. We also like puzzles, and virtual badge systems play into both of these traits since the secret to unlocking various badges is. . . well. . . a secret!
How many people have the Tarantino badge from FourSquare? And the “Last Degree” badge? That went to the first person to check-in from the North Pole.
I have a friend who has become completely addicted to earning GetGlue stickers, so much so that I fear she’s given up writing in favor of liking and commenting all day long.
It does make me wonder how far a person would go to get a badge. Would you live in a tree for a month in order to get a “Swiss Family Robinson” badge? Watch a “Joanie Loves Chachi” marathon to earn a “Bad 80′s TV” sticker? And I don’t even want to think about what you’d have to do to earn a “Charlie Sheen” badge but if you put it out there, someone will take up the challenge.
How can you make sticker fever work for you? Why not offer your customers a virtual loyalty badge in the form of a widget for their blog, or a graphic they can add to their Facebook photos? When it comes to virtual stickers, it’s creativity that counts.