Build Links with Badges & Brand Advocates

by Matthew Diehl on March 4, 2011

Where are your badges?
If your response to that question is “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!” Then you are missing one of the standard plays in any link builders playbook.

Badges Are Back in a Big Way

You know how retro things always circle back and become trendy again? Well, badges are back. And, for those that never gave up on them, you’re cool again!

The escalated socialization of the web via services like twitter, facebook, etc. have created a vast playground for your brand advocates. These services have allowed your advocates to not only connect with you but with other advocates, brand haters and the brand oblivious.

The interaction that you have with your brand advocates through these channels has allowed you to continue to strengthen their affinity to your products, service, etc. and now it is time to cash in on these relationships. And, the monetary gain I am talking about here is link bucks backs.

Positioning is Important

Just because you have built badges doesn’t mean anyone will actually place them on their website. What you need to do is position your badges with your brand advocates as a must have item on their websites that continues to play into the social medium.

Erm, how do I do that?
Make the badges community oriented. What I mean by community oriented is use them to further extend the brand advocates sense of community with your brand. Use phrases like “Show Your Support”, “Join The Club” or “Spread The Message” and wrap it with “by placing this badge on your website.”

What the badge actually says is just as important to the adoption as how you “sell” the badge to your advocates. Strong messaging in your badge like “Proud Member of” or “I Love” will invoke more emotional attachment of your advocates to your brand strengthening their willingness to display the badge and leave it there for a long time.

Case and point, check out the SEOmoz badge that I have on my site. It’s clean, professional and lured me in by using a strong emotional element. And, I am more than happy to display it and endorse them.

The true advocates, that are die hard users of your products or service, will love the fact that they have a sweet professionally-made badge that is a “piece” of your company on their site and will be proud to display it to all visitors.

Work for and with Early Adopters

Advocates beget Advocates.

If you have been doing any kind of social media engagement with your customers then you know exactly who your top advocates are. These are the people who as soon as you tweet/share/post something, they are right there retweeting, liking and commenting. These are folks that you may have already connected with on a personal level and you know absolutely love your company.

Take the time to reach out to them, personally, and get them to be an early adopter of the badge. When other brand advocates see that your mega-allstar advocates have these sweet, new badges on their sites, they will line up around the corner to get a hold of one for their site.

Have Some Fun

You can even have a little fun with with your badges. Create a super secret order of brand advocates and for those who are proudly displaying your badge you can hook them up with the occasional discount code, freebie or special drawing. The super secret order continues to play into the community orientation of your badge and even takes it to the next level.

To make this happen just collect name, email address and the website where your badge is going to be displayed. Then before you send out an email or hold a drawing, double check that the badges are in place and who ever is still proudly flying your colors include them in on your offer.

Another Play

Building links takes time but there are a lot of different ways to approach getting them. Badges are just one of many link building methods that help you to potentially build links at scale. Building links with badges is a great way to add diversity into your linking profile through brand advocate sites.

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