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Passive status casting can offer ambient awareness for brands

September 6, 2008

Clive Thompson has an excellent article in the New York Times right now that you simply must read. Go ahead. It’s a long article, but really, you need to read it. Seriously, this can wait.

Now that you’ve read it, you agree there’s so much good stuff in it, that it’s hard to know where to start. But I picked this place, late in the article, because it’s something I’ve been thinking about:

“Yet Ahan knows that she cannot simply walk away from her online life, because the people she knows online won’t stop talking about her, or posting unflattering photos. She needs to stay on Facebook just to monitor what’s being said about her. This is a common complaint I heard, particularly from people in their 20s who were in college when Facebook appeared and have never lived as adults without online awareness. For them, participation isn’t optional. If you don’t dive in, other people will define who you are. So you constantly stream your pictures, your thoughts, your relationship status and what you’re doing — right now! — if only to ensure the virtual version of you is accurate, or at least the one you want to present to the world.”

Last week, in my first installment of social media rules, I wrote that the social costs of silence for a brand were large. When I read the paragraph above, I kept placing Brand in the place of Ahan.

A brand can’t simply walk away from its online life. It needs to be continually monitoring what is said about it. Some brands do a really good job at that.

The second thing that I took from the article is the notion of “passive updating.” This is a meme from another Canadian writer and thinker named Grant McCracken called Status Casting. This is the notion that someone’s status is a critical thing to promote to people.

This is especially true for younger people who are emerging brands. And it’s obviously true of brands.
The goal of a brand is ‘ambient awareness’. It’s not one that is easily achievable, but it’s certainly a goal. If a people were ‘ambiently aware’ of a brand, when a purchase decision comes along, they will more than likely think of the brand.

Think of status casting as a non-interruptive, passive way of updating fans on what’s going on with the brand. it doesn’t matter what tool a brand uses, it matters that it stays true to the brand, it entertains, and it engages.

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