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Updating Status — why it’s good to be passive

April 2, 2008

What do social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, bebo, and even to a certain extent, e-mail and text messaging have in common?


Specifically, the immediate update to a network, of someone’s status.

Take Facebook. There’s a feature in Facebook called ‘Status Update’. It starts with “Matt…” and asks me to update what I am. Do my Facebook friends care about my status? Alternatively, do I care that my friend “Nikki relaxes”?

Twitter is essentially the Facebook status feature taken to the network level. A Twitter post is “It’s snowing”, or, “Thankfully I brought my lunch today, cause it’s snowing”. Both are updates about the minutia of life. And yes, somewhere in the minutia are brilliant conversations, depending on one’s network, but at it’s core, Twitter is the status. What are you doing? Twitter asks you to tell you friends.

So here’s the point:
I first read about status casting here at this blog sits at the. And it got me thinking about young people who’s very social lives are linked to their status. And passive status updates are excellent tools.

Facebook, MySpace, bebo and Twitter status updates are passive updates that help young people get heard. They are passive updaters because they are not pushed to people. A blog posting is a passive status update with more detail. I think passivity in updating status is important to young people.

Consider a more active update: I could send out an e-mail to everyone in my network telling them what I’m doing at this very moment (I’m drinking a wonderful cup of coffee and thinking about dinner).

Alternatively, I could blast a text messages to everyone with dinner updates throughout the day.

But that level of activity would alienate my network. They would ignore me.

As we Marketers get into this realm, understanding the reason young people use these tools will be important for understanding how best we should be using them. These are passive tools for updating. And being passive isn’t something that comes easy to marketers. We like to get the message out. We like GRPs. We want our message heard.

In my opinion, that’s the exact opposite reason why status is working. And for that matter, that’s almost the opposite way in which most of the social networks work. I think it’s critical to understand this as we marketers jump in and use the tools that are becoming available.

My advice: start with understanding why people use a social tool. Then, and only then, jump in yourself.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 7, 2008 4:24 pm

    Marketers like push media. They understand stuff like direct mail and mass media advertising.

    The internet is pull media. Social media especially is pull media: if you are interested in someone, you care about their status. But having them blast it at you–especially if you don’t know them well– is just plain rude.

  2. April 7, 2008 5:02 pm


    You’re absolutely right. It’s not just hard to convince a client to use a passive updating device, it’s hard ot keep them thinking passive. We convinced a client to use Twitter to passively update people who entered a contest. They still ask us if Twitter is driving entries. We’ll get there though.


  3. December 5, 2010 10:24 pm

    Merely wanna comment that you have a very decent site, I like the style it really stands out.


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