June 14, 2011

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4 Ways to Capitalize on Emerging Mobile Behavior Patterns Information mobility is changing the way we think, work and live. As more and more people adopt increasingly more powerful and useful technologies, our habits, our expectations about productivity and the quality of our lives and our key relationships are changing too. In many cases these changes are in-motion before we are fully conscious of them or their implications. New data from JiWire Mobile , based on the mobile services they provide via 450,000 public Wi-Fi locations in 144 countries, and survey results among 3700 responders to an iPass Mobile Workforce survey among 1100 enterprises begin to document significant changes in attitudes and behavior driven by the use of mobile devices. Mobile workers seem to be extraordinarily wired. One in three checks e-mail first thing in the morning before showering, eating or dressing. Forty-three percent keep their mobile device at arm’s length when they sleep and more than half check the device during the night. Even during down time or “me” time 9 out of 10 mobile workers are checking their devices for e-mail or social network connections. These guys work an average of 240 more hours a year than the average worker, which for a third understandably causes friction in their personal relationships with a spouse or a significant other. Mobility is a tether not an escape mechanism. And yet a weird kind of behavioral standard is emerging even among those workers committed to their devices and linked to their jobs. Here’s a sampler from the evolving code of conduct … Taking a call on a mobile phone during a meeting is verboten. Checking your device during a face-to-face meeting or presentation is insulting. Texting or checking a device while driving is dangerous and hazardous to others. Looking at your device while out with friends is a bush league rude move. Calling or texting from a toilet in a public place is a matter of individual taste. Take these rules with a grain of salt since most survey responders admitted to violating these rules at least occasionally. Among the same crowd 79 percent are comfortable making purchases on a mobile device, half for purchases of $100 or more and 71 percent research purchases made later online, by smartphone or at the point of sale. Everybody seems open to buying by phone but only 17 percent have actually made a purchase. Local and location-based offers seem to be growing in popularity. 72 percent have purchased a local deal and two out of three are sharing local deals with friends using smartphones. The number one on-the-go task is finding store locations. Then things seem to change by gender with men more likely to check-in and women seem more interested in connecting with others. There are four implications for marketers from this new data. Make content mobile-friendly. If it doesn’t render properly you’re DOA. Think about the buying sequences. Imagine how customers find and compare your products or services online and what the likely patterns might be for buying it in-motion, buying it at a desktop or laptop or buying at a retail location. Then think about how you can accelerate the process or offer incentives that synch up with this new buying behavior. There is no more down time or boredom. A mobile device means you never have to be alone. If you are nervous, anxious or out of place, your mobile device gives you a way to reduce the stress, pretend to be more connected or popular than you really are or offers something to look at or click on when you don’t know what to say or do. Think about how your brand can fill this emotional or interstitial gap for customers. Focus on workflow and life flow. Think about timing messages and consider how consumers might respond to your content in the middle of the night, at the first sign of consciousness or before they hit the sack. Integrate message content and timing to align with how customers use these devices so that your brand becomes an expected and desired part of your customer’s lives.
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Google Takes on Facebook The introduction of Google Plus, amidst of frenzy of product improvements and introductions by Google, represents the first salvo in a war between Facebook and Google for the soul and the direction of the Internet. It may also reveal the thinking and ambitions of Larry Page, who now has a firm grip on Google’s tiller. Google, the ubiquitous utility with a billion users, might be the only contender with the technical firepower, cash, scale and energy to take on Zuckerberg & Company, who clearly aim to swallow the Internet as evidenced by the use of Facebook Connect as single sign-on device, the widespread use of the Like button as a sharing and voting tool and regulated but wide access to the Facebook API as the connective tissue underlying an array of functionality. As Ben Elowitz noted in his All Things Digital blog piece, Google focused on processes and utilities (search, maps, e-mail, satellite images) to dominate the Web since the 90s. But Facebook, focusing on people and the connections between them, has already matched and will regularly exceed Google’s traffic. Facebook is becoming a “new home base” for people to use the Web. As the gateway to content and functionality, Facebook will be in a position to set the agenda and squash nascent competitors. Google + is a button (similar to Like) and a social network (reflective of Facebook). In addition to launching these directly competitive offerings, Google has also redesigned its search home page, introduced free analytics tools for social and mobile media, launched Mobile Sites landing pages, built a Google Plus Android app, created Google Swiffy which converts Flash files to HTML5 and promises even more inventions and upgrades. The early reviews for the Google + social network project are mostly favorable. It’s clear that Google has learned from its past mistakes and has adopted tools and lessons learned from others in the space. The friending and sorting tool looks and feels like Plaxo’s friend finder. The home page, minus a wall, resembles a streamlined Facebook page. The new functionality – Circles for finding and sorting friends is not new but emphasizes the need to bucket friends and makes it easy. Hangout, a Skype-like, group video chat function is a nice to have feature that will appeal to certain audience segments. Sparks and Huddle allow an individual to cue or organize online or offline group activity easily. Other not-so-new but useful refined features include emphasis on mobile and social tools like an easy photo upload tool, instant connections to Gmail, a simple sharing mechanism, the ability to add location, using the GPS function, to any post. While this will appeal to developers eager to participate in Android’s spectacular growth, these are cool and useful but hardly killer apps. Clearly Google watched, listened and responded to evolving needs and nuances in the use of social media. The Google Plus features make sense and add incremental value to the social networking experience. They also refine, build and improve functions that will enable and accelerate advertising sales opportunities. What’s not clear is why somebody would either switch from Facebook to Google+ or add it as a second social network. Google+ will get a lot of attention. Launched using Google’s standard BETA-invitation only tactic, it is spawning curiosity and demand. But the really play is long term as King Kong meets Godzilla.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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