Brightkite Gets Down To Badges

Location-based social networking service Brightkite has experimented with the concept of badges in the past, threading in the footsteps of Foursquare and Gowalla, who have popularized if not pioneered the now-familiar virtual loyalty and rewards system.

Last May, the startup partnered with coffee chain Starbucks to create a set of branded badges, self-reportedly the biggest brand integration they had done until then.

Today, they’re ramping up their badging efforts.

Brightkite badges now have levels. For example, if you use their mobile website or one of their many mobile apps to post 10 photos, you’ll earn a ‘Slick pic’ badge at level 1. You can monitor your progress in a status bar on the badge, which will be visible on the web or your iPhone. Once you get to level 1, Brightkite will tell you what to do to get to level 2, and so on.

According to Brightkite, the biggest reason to introduce levels to its badges was so stores, bars, restaurants and brands gain ways to reward users / customers. The company is setting out with a number of partnerships: check in to stores that sell Sharpie products, and you’ll earn their custom badge and automatically enter into a sweeps to win $1,000.

Get down to some serious social networking via the Brightkite service, and Dentyne will be sponsoring your ‘social swagger’ badge. Read the August edition of Redbook magazine, and there’ll be a surprise there for you, as well.

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”.