Brightkite has been known to experiment with badges for its location-based social networking service, but besides a partnership with Starbucks, has been dormant on the topic- until now.
The startup has introduced levels to its badges, based on a variety of check-ins and other social functions, like uploading photos. For example, if you use Brightkite’s mobile website or one of their mobile apps to post 10 photos, you’ll earn a ‘Slick pic’ badge at level 1. You can then monitor your progress in a status bar on the badge, which will be visible on the web or on your iPhone. Once you get to level 1, Brightkite will tell you what to do to get to level 2, and so on.
This addition does several things; it deepens engagement with the service in general, and adds a deeper gaming aspect while encouraging users to keep “leveling up” by doing certain actions within the app. Most importantly, however, is Brightkite’s new ability to offer unique rewards and loyalty programs. The company is setting out with a number of partnerships out of the gate: check-in to stores that sell Sharpie products, for example, and you’ll earn their custom badge and automatically enter into a sweepstakes to win $1,000.
Brightkite says it is currently working out the details for more branded badge programs with the likes of McDonald’s, Visa and the CW. The company says they also have a “bunch of home-grown badges live and plenty more to follow” and invites users to discover them and “level up”.
The “rewards-based ecosystem” that’s evolving through solutions from Brightkite and the droves of other LBS providers is definitely the future, though several kinks need to be worked out. The initial concept is killer, and will undoubtedly be a game-changer, but it’s also important to remember that the user-base of LBS apps like Brightkite are still relatively small when compared to other concepts. Still, it’s one of the most exciting concepts brewing in the mobile marketing world, and we’ll definitely be watching closely.