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What are Facebook’s Merit Badges?

The unidentified man in the hat in Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles said it first – but many of us are echoing this sentiment:

What are Facebook’s Merit Badges? Why should marketers and businesses care? And, the big question: does Facebook still have the clout to appraise users?

Let’s dig in, #PRBrief style:

What are Facebook merit badges?

According to The American Genius, Facebook rolled out merit badges to some Group administrators on August 17 of this year. Well, … just one badge. Behold, the coffee cup-owning, medal-wearing, very sparkly “Conversation Starter.”

conversation starter

Like the Girl Scouts’ “Buddy Camper” and “Cybersecurity 3: Investigator” badges, Facebook’s “Conversation Starter” is a badge based on accomplishment. If you’re an admin, it appears next to the star-spangled “Admin” badge.

Why do I care?

Whether your Business Page* owns a group* or you’re a member of one, keep in mind: whomsoever holds the all-powerful badge holds the talking stick – they have the power to give your brand a boost in the minds of group members, and the power to take you down a few pegs. We’d wager that because Facebook favors them; badge owner comments will be listed higher in search results and in the feed.

Keep an eye on these badge holders. See what they’re saying about your brand and leverage them as a social listening tool. Who knows, if you foster a relationship with them, they could be a brand ambassador for your business someday. And, if they bash you, you can make the choice to hide their comments.

*P.S. If you’re wondering, Business Pages are pages that companies and organizations own that operate a lot like personal pages. Businesses can post photos, videos, and more to their followers. Groups, on the other hand, are separate spaces where anyone who is a member of that group can post whatever they like. In website terms, Business Pages are your home page and Groups are the forum or comments section.

How are merit badges assigned? What are the criteria?

Criteria for badges is still a little hazy, but from what we can tell, multiple users will earn badges if they created the most engaging posts in a group that month. As a reminder, Facebook sees the following metrics as engagement metrics:

  • Reacting to a post
  • Commenting on a post
  • Sharing a post
  • Claiming an offer
  • Viewing a photo or video
  • Clicking on a link

We predict that posts garnering the highest number of engagements in a given month are awarded a badge. FWIW: experts say that users can win more than one badge and choose which badges are displayed on their profiles.

Is Facebook still enough of an authority to rate users?

As it turns out, yea-Facebook vs. nay-Facebook is a divisive subject for our team. Some of us feel it’s on the outs as a platform due to data security breaches, questionable conduct, and a recent 1929-stock-market-crash-esque tumble in its market value.

However you feel, Facebook remains the world’s most-used social media platform, and many of us are heavily invested. Facebook knows a lot about us – maybe too much – but we’d be lying if we said we didn’t assign some personal value to our number of friends or “Hahas” on a post.

The Verdict

As long as Facebook isn’t abusing our sensitive personal data when assigning these cool, kinda nerdy, sorta arbitrary, but undeniably cute badges, we’re happy. Actually, we kind of love this idea. Everyone wants an award, right?

In other words, … we’ll take 47, please!

For more musings on all things social media, bookmark our blog. If you’re interested in more than just social media, keep an eye on our blog for new #PRbriefs published every #Friyay.

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