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How to use custom pins to drive change

People have an in-buiilt psychological aparatus for motivation. It's a machine exists in the human mind, and we can learn the instruction manual of how we can push the levers to this motvational mechanism to influence people to do more good things.

We love to have our efforts appreciated by an authority. Pins are old-school gamification. The military and the monarchy have been giving out pins and awards since the 1600s. 

Gamification is pretty much just the harnessing of human motivation. There are a range of these fun and easy techniques we can use to get big jumps in our goals.

Once of these easy and fun means of motivating people is using custom pins. They can be manufactured easily from online providers with your own design. 

Pins are not marketing tools to spread far and wide. The secret of pins is to make them rare, and to make them difficult to possess. The more difficult the pin is to aquire, the more valuable the pin is. 

How to use pins
1. As an award to signal high performance
2. To designate identity to a group
3. To secure commitment to a pledge

Secrets to making your pins work
1. Make your pin design cute, beautiful or fun. 
2, Make your pin difficult to aquire
3. Provided by a person of high status, CEO, mayor etc.
4. Make you pin require a difficult skill of mastery
5. Make the receivers of the pins famous
6. Chose the higher quality manufacture option

Pin dont's
1. Don't put your company logo on it
2. Don't give it our widely
3. Don't give it out to people who have not invested in a difficult task in order to aquire it.

The evidence
Individuals who were asked to wear a lapel pin publicizing the Canadian Cancer Society were nearly twice as likely to subsequently donate than those who were not asked. Compliance without Pressure: Some further data on the foot-in-the-door technique” Journal of Environmental Psychology 1974

​​​​​​​The website Psychological Science gave authors a badge when they made their publications available for open data. The badges caused a jump from 3% to 23% in the number of authors specifying open data, and to 39% the next year. (3)

Individuals were asked donate to the Heart Association. Those who were thanked and told “You are a generous person. I wish more of the people I met were as charitable as you” gave 75% more when asked to donate to another charity. (2)

A purely symbolic award given to Wikipedia editors increased the share of editors being active by 20 percent. The awards also raised the share of authors who contributed content to articles by 13 %. (1)

​​​​​​​Fostering Voluntary Contributions to a Public Good: A Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment at Wikipedia, Jana Gallus, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2579118

​​​​​​​Kraut, R. E. (1973) Effects of social labeling on giving to charity. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 9, 551-562.

​​​​​​​Badges to Acknowledge Open Practices: A Simple, Low-Cost, Effective Method for Increasing Transparency, http://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1002456

Custom pin manufacturers



Cute custom pin examples
Find this kind of thing interesting? Join our community of world-changers and get access to my free resources that show you how to apply data, behavior change and game design techniques to your cause for the epic win.
Author: Katie Patrick
Katie Patrick is an environmental engineer and a designer. She helps sustainability professionals, entrepreneaurs and civic innovators to apply powerful techniques in data science, game design and behavioral psychology so they can make epic wins in environmental and social change. She lives in San Francisco with her little daughter Anastasia.
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