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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Status Renting, Status Bites and a range of status categories

Many status conscious Dhakaiyas think that if you manage to reside in the Bermuda triangle of Dhaka city i.e. Gulshan-Banani-Baridhara, you possess a 'higher' status than the rest who live outside, or even on the periphery. However Facebook, the most popular social networking site in Bangladesh too, is poised to make this status vanity blurred, as apparently, everybody and anybody has a ‘status’, as long they are registered with Facebook, or with Twitter as a matter of fact. This certainly implies that these status-savvy digital netizens of Bangladesh have acquired the power of being micro-publishers for free, to start influencing their smaller sphere of acquaintances, through their frequent updates about own situation, feelings, news, etc. From my observation, I could categorize the status-mongers in Facebook according to the following categories. See if you want to add some more and think how each of these could be mobilized to spread the word-of-mouth regarding you, your business, brand. (read more)

1. Stato-holics
This group of people are status addicts, they prefer to update their status as frequently as possible. Most interestingly, even if they are ‘busy’, they somehow manage to get the time out of their busy schedule to update their status as ‘Abdul is busy’ or ‘Abdul is buzzzeeeee’ etc. making others wonder whether that person is busy with work or busy Facebooking!

This category of users may be good brand mouth-pieces for your product/service. Riding on their urge to frequent status updates, they need to be equipped with enough information and right incentives to help spread the word-of-mouse for your brand.

2. Status-stalkers
You might be having 500+ friends in your friend list but in reality you might be interacting actually with not more than 50 through personal messages, wall posts and seeing each other’s status updates. Then what happened to the rest of your colourful and long friend list? Have they suddenly turned their face off Facebook? I reckon not. This category of people prefer not to update their own status but prefer to have sneak peaks on what others are doing. Partially it could be because they don’t want their ‘friends’ to know what their own secrets plans are for job, holidays etc. lest their friends exploit this information and race ahead. So they prefer to keep a check on everybody else’s status regularly and remain themselves in a hidden mode. That’s what friends are for huh? In many case’s some stalk a handful of people genuinely to acquire more knowledge, contacts etc. They are Facebook introverts.

Good type for market research may be, who keep a check on what other people are upto, or may be saying about your brand, business or even you…and then reports back to you.

3. Stat-vertizers
My favourite type. Those who can happily rent out their status space as a micro-bill board to advertise about your business, either for free or for fee for a certain duration of time may be. I have been investigating with this lately and am keen to get in touch with Facebook to figure out if the idea of ‘Status Renting’ could be made a reality. So if I could convince say 10 of my target Facebook friends to update their status about my custom-made-status ready information on my business/product, then it would be made visible to their own friends, with whom I might not be connected. The audience of your audience is my audience that I am trying to reach here through status messages. Its short, crispy, share-able and more importantly you would be more influenced about anything if you read it in your friends’ status updates rather than hearing it from any unsocilited ad campaign, or from me. In exchange, if its possible to track the clicks from each ‘rented status space’, it would be used to may be pay the interested stat-vertizers for their favour.

--Friends and family might be bullied for a while to behave like stat-vertizers for a while but not for long, as there are no binding agreements. But if contextual status renting becomes a reality, it would be interesting to see how this works for businesses in a social media environment.

--Don’t let money ruin friendship.

4. Stat-wasters or Stat-blankers
This type of users are not always sure why they should use their status updates for. So sometimes they publish statuses such as ‘Abdul is …’. I really never understand the meaning of this ‘…’. To me, it’s a complete waste of space. Rather stay quiet and stalk other people than saying three dots. Also, some ignore the basic principle of brevity in status messages and opt for writing long epics in their status messages which certainly gets ignored for a skim-through status surfer.

Wish them happiness and wish them well.

5. True socialite
They are bit of a mixed bag. They actually share nearly each of their conceivable feeling/emotion i.e. ‘Abdul is happy, sad, sick, tired, sleeping, eating, walking, thinking etc.’. They talk about food, movies, politics, life, love, pretty much everything being social requires and enjoys status messages just because they themselves are genuinely like that. They also send each other virtual gifts, play games etc.

If a true socialite could be converted to a part time stat-vertizer, then it would be bthe est combination for your business/brand word spread. As people tend to rely more on the candid opinion of a True socialite than on the dry and monotonous updates from a stat-vertizer.

Other than ‘status-renting’ I am also researching with a concept I coined as ‘status-bites’. Inspired by what soundbites do, I think status-bites are the next best thing to educate your audience on your business/product on a slow and scheduled status release format. I am applying this specifically for reports that other teams produce for public consumption at my present workplace. It is argued that in times of information economy, attention is the currency, which no one wants to spend too much. So not many people have the time or interest or the access to go through a full report of 30-40 pages. But they would not mind to have a surface level idea, gist of the actual content in small chewable chunks, right through their status feeds so that they can be informed about the key aspects of the issue at hand through the screens of their smart phones or desktop screen. Think about it, is there anything about your business/brand, which can be released through status messages in a planned way over a period of time? May be a week or so?

Lastly, something I call ‘status-serials’. Can you tell a story about your brand/business in 10 status messages in a serial fashion? So that I have the urge to see what your next update is? Can it keep me interested in your sticky status for a week or so? However, none of these terms are in Google yet.

That it, time to update my status about this post now.

1 comment:

Olio Artisans said...

Very interesting write up on facebook status updates and it's potential reach as a commercial/social communication media. I, personally, was going through this same series of thoughts regarding how this facebook generation is going to accustom themselves with corporate communications or generate brand awareness. Your personal research seems very intriguing and your in depth analysis was a great fun to read on. :)

However, with all the positive enthusiasm and excitement to see it as a viable media, it also creates certain amount of disturbance when i find commercialize updates. Who ever should plan to make it a strategic communication tool, should not forget that at the end of the day people still visit others status to find some updates that can be expected from that individual friend who is updating it. Anything unusual will ring some alarm for sure. So we got to be very careful while planning to use these status updates as commercial or fruitful media to promote business ventures or brands.
Naveed Akbar, Dhaka, Bangladesh. ;)