Badges: to badge or not to badge? That is the question.

Social Media Badges

Ten years ago the common suggestion for all businesses was to put their website address on all of their promotional materials, advertisements, and correspondence with customers. This made perfect sense, but it often turned into a more complicated discussion with my clients. They had the misconception that people would generally want to visit their website. Unless they were a business that had a real purpose for a website, driving existing customers to browse your page to find information about your store location, hours, and to see a photo of your staff was kind of silly. They were already a customer, after all.

Some businesses thrived thanks to their online traffic, and these clients made it really easy to show ROI for their websites because they had things like E-commerce that could directly measure traffic and subsequent sales. Measuring traffic on a non-E-commerce enabled website was easy, but tracking that conversion to sales has not always been an easily calculated number.

So then about five years ago, thanks to social media’s explosion, advertisers and businesses started to realize that instead of spinning their wheels to get people to come to their own website, the easier option was to target people where they were already interacting. Facebook started to edge out MySpace, not only because it was easier to use, cleaner, and had less spam and false profiles, but also because it was easier for advertisers to get involved and track their dollars. Creating your own Facebook page opened up new opportunities instead of buying a banner ad on MySpace to point to your actual website.

So now every business has a Facebook page. And if you look at almost every advertisement (ours included) you’ll see the familiar Facebook badge, probably accompanied by a Twitter badge and a few others. My long-standing belief is that this is generally a good thing, but lately I’m starting to question that. Why are we all going out of our way to promote other platforms and services that everybody is already on anyways? Showing your full Facebook URL is perhaps not the easiest thing to do in an advertisement, especially a TV spot. So we resort to the badge. Are we becoming badge happy? Adobe made fancy badges for all of their products years ago. Now, thanks to Apple and the iPhone, apps all have badges. Every new website from a startup has a badge. I could go on…

But the real question is – are we really doing ourselves a favor by putting all of those badges on our advertisements, or should we just focus on the ad itself and leave the badges for the web, where you can actually click on them and go directly to the page or app? Food for thought.

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