Following Micro Status Updates Allows Brands to be "So Totally, Digitally Close" to Customers


In this week's Times Magazine, Clive Thompson (or @pomeranian99 on Twitter) described in his "I'm So Totally, Digitally Close to You" article how "incessant online contact" encouraged by tools like Facebook's Newsfeed and microblogging platforms like Twitter, has created "ambient awareness." Whether we tweet in 140 or less, post on each other's wall or upload photos, videos or Utterz, we're creating and curating a public record of who we are, what we like, dislike, what sparks our interests and what we care about.

This article left my head buzzing with the implications of this new "ambient awareness" and in particular, what it means for brands.

For brands, there's never been a time or technology that allowed the needs, wants and lives of its stakeholders to be grasped on such an intimate level. Through the mundane "what I'm having for lunch today" updates, surface invaluable anecdotes and feedback that can inform a brand's decisions better than any traditional target profile.

I recently heard a brand manager look introspectively at his brand's presence online and say, "It feels incredibly small. It doesn't feel cutting edge." This act of following and engaging customers in social networks will feel small at first but we're moving away from the flash of a campaign or 30 second spot and going back to the fundamentals of building relationships. As Clive states, "Taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends' and family members' lives, like thousands of dots making a pointillist painting."

Couple this acute understanding of stakeholders with an accelerated feedback loop and you have brands like H&R Block understanding customers' financial anxiety during tax season so well by keeping an ear close to their tweets, that its able to create loyal brand evangelists just by responding in a manner that's personal and meaningful.

I can only imagine how better informed any communications, CRM and R+D effort would be if brands invested as much time following the micro interactions of its stakeholders as a means of gaining this intimate awareness of them as it does pushing out macro, million dollar promotional campaigns.

Image from Peter Cho, NY Times Magazine

by Amanda Mooney    Sep- 7-08   Click to Comment   
Topic: Brands, Research, Social   

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Hi Amanda,
Thanks for sharing this interesting article and your thoughts as well! It really speaks to the whole concept of the need for companies to listen to conversation as a whole, not just whenever the brand name appears online. By building relationships, it takes longer but ultimately creates a stronger bond.

Posted by: Meredith Krumenacker // @meredithk1981 on September 10, 2008 9:25 AM