Harnessing the power of the smart phone

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Kelly and I went to a brilliant networking event yesterday hosted by Urbano (thanks guys!) in London. Twitter Sales Director Dara Nasr was also there to tell us why mobile phones are the communicator's new best friend.

Mobile technology has come on leaps and bounds since the first commercially available mobile phone in the early eighties. Not only is the technology incredible - small, light, powerful - but the proliferation of this technology has gone through the roof. Today seven in ten people in the UK own a smart phone and this proportion is much higher for some audiences. For example 100% of the forty or so attendees at yesterday's event (a mix of professionals from many different backgrounds) had a smart phone with them. On top of that, the average mobile user now checks their mobile phone more than 1,500 times a week. That's 1,500 potential interactions with each of your customers in any given week! If you have a product to sell or a story to tell, mobile technology opens up a world of new possibilities.

In times gone by your marketing plan may have been limited to paid activity such as print and TV advertising and some owned activity based around your own website. However, today achieving earned interest in your company and your brand is a relatively low-cost and high reward strategy that is made all-the-more possible with the advent and proliferation of the smart phone. Developments in tech for mobile and the range of channels available may sometimes seem a little bamboozling. But, get it right and the return on your investment could be mind-blowing.

The most important thing to understand is how much more credible your brand can become with the support of earned validation such as reviews, likes, shares and retweets. A 2013 study carried out by Forrester found that 70% of consumers are more likely to buy something on the recommendation of a friend compared with just 10% based on an advertisement. Another study by BrightLocal found that 88% of consumers are as likely to trust online reviews as they are a personal recommendation. Whether you provide a facility for people to review your products or services, people will review them anyway on their own social channels. Gone are the days where companies can control what is said in public about their products. Companies that tend to succeed in winning favour online are those that collaborate on content, respond quickly and develop an authentic dialogue rather than a corporate monologue.

The rising importance of the online space for communication has seen the traditional lines between Marketing, PR and Advertising become blurred. Social media enables us to communicate directly with our customers and you will have seen your communications colleagues, and indeed partner agencies, all wanting to claim the biggest slice of this pie. By adding mobile to the mix we add a sense of urgency, but also a sense of personalisation.

Dara noted the importance of this trend in his presentation. Earlier in the year controversial singer/rapper/producer/all-round crazy Kanye West performed at the O2. He decided to pop into Nandos for a fix of peri peri where he proceeded to stand up on his chair and invite fellow diners to take a photo of him. The photo Dara showed was of a group of under-25s turning their back to Kanye as they positioned themselves for a selfie with Kanye in the background. The personalisation of content has been made possible with the ever-improving camera tech used in smart phones. Today 1.8 billion photos will be shared from mobile phones on social media globally. That's a lot of photos!

So what does all this mean? Well, in the old days we may have relied on traditional media (i.e. print newspapers and magazines) to achieve our 'earned' coverage. However today everyone with a phone is a curator of content. They can review your product, take a picture of it, take a video of themselves talking about it or using it, write a blog post about it, and broadcast all of this to the whole world. The power of each of your customers and potential customers has gone through the roof. This is a fantastic thing for consumers but also potentially a fantastic thing for your brand. You can harness the power of the people to tell your story 1,000 times over rather than telling it yourself once.

The fact that this is 'mobile technology' (i.e. something we carry with us) has changed our expectations for the way organisations and companies communicate with us. Embrace change and follow these simple steps to make the most of the mobile revolution.

Making the most of mobile

  • When it comes to your website make sure it is built responsively (this means it automatically resizes to display beautifully no matter what device your customer is using)
  • Encourage colleagues from marketing, advertising, communications and your digital teams to work more closely together
  • When developing new campaigns think about how you can engage customers through their phones - can you ask them to take photos or video to tell a story? Can you invite them to use their location or 'check in' to your venue on Facebook?
  • Consider how you might be able to integrate digital with real life - if you're holding an event, can you promote a hashtag to encourage attendees to tweet about it, if you're attending a conference can you use social media to talk about what's going on or to connect with others attending that conference, if you own a restaurant can you use virtual reality to enable diners to interact with the menu?
  • Everyone thinks they need an app now a days. But does anything you're doing warrant an app? If you're not sure ask an expert like us. There may be a better return on your investment somewhere else
  • Reflect on your own experience as a mobile phone user - you're already an expert!