Mobile Necessary Now for Brand Relevancy

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Smartphone Adoption by Market

If you are not preparing your organization for a mobile web, you will lose competitive positioning. Many brands have dabbled and experimented, but have put off mobile media as they struggled to swallow social media. Social media is now in its best practices phase, while mobile media via tablets and mobile phones has hit the tipping point. It is necessary for businesses and nonprofits to start adapting now for brand relevancy.

Mobile media has brought the Internet into every aspect of our lives now. This was evident throughout SxSW and the travel between DC and Austin; mobile media was everywhere. Group texting, gaming, mobile videos and pictures, plus the usual status updates seemed to dominate conversation and content. Brands confided that they had started hiring mobile media managers.

Even Mike Tyson gets mobile media. Not convinced yet? Consider these statistics:

Here are four suggestions to help you begin experimenting with mobile media:

1) Start Playing with Group Texting Applications

It’s no secret that location based services have seen growth slow, in large part because the gaming and badging features have a limited entertainment experience. Additionally, while coupons are nice and provide monetization, the consumerism of coupons doesn’t demand consistent engagement. All in all, location networks have yet to break through as the mobile killer application… Thus the marketplace’s recent excitement about group texting.

At SxSW, Zoetica gave a couple of the group texting platforms a dry run. Both GroupMe and Beluga were quite interesting, but GroupMe was easier to use, allowing for quick group set up, and back channel conversations within the company. Both platforms are highly dynamic in the sense that they allow for social activity in ways that neither Gowalla or Foursquare offer. In some ways, a marriage between a group texting application and a location based service could be the right mix of social and monetization.

2) Get Visual Fast

Richard Binhammer
Dell’s Richard Binhammer and his dog SoCo.

One thing is certain about mobile media. It does not suffer long, textual documents and word-based interfaces gladly. Reading blog posts like this one on a mobile phone does not make sense from a content perspective. The screen size negatively impacts text size and the ability to read long documents.

What does make sense is photo based and short video content. Visual content works well in this media form. Photos with captions or minimal text copy, and short 30-60 second videos are ideal for handheld devices. They tell stories in a friendly, enjoyable way on this medium. And with smartphones adding better cameras, editing and instant publishing functionality, we are seeing dramatic increases in online photo sharing.

The red hot tablets on the market are much more text friendly, but given tactile (touch-based) input, visual user interfaces are easier for users to navigate. Especially for those of us with thick fingers (ahem). Early iPad experiences have shown applications that use visual interfaces like FlipBoard, news apps from ABC and CNN, and other mobile media make for big hits.

Further, mobile platforms like Tumblr and Posterous make publishing quick on the fly video, photo and text based mini posts easy! If you haven’t already begun to play with these tools, now is the time to start.

3) Make Your Site Mobile Friendly

For some reason, the first inclination towards mobile is the development of an application on the iPhone or Android platform. In reality, the first mobile need is your web site (see Shelly Kramer’s post on the topic). There are new tools that are rapidly developing today to help address mobility, including the HTML 5 standard for cross platform development, and WordPress plug-ins like WPTouch Pro render a blog for the mobile form.

If you are not sure this makes sense, check out Christopher Penn’s post on gauging mobile traffic via Google Analytics. The data may surprise you.

4) Continue Experimenting with the Old

While Foursquare, Gowalla, mobile applications for phones and the coupon services are known quantities with mobile and portable media, they have helped fuel today’s growth. Continued innovation in the location space may add the much needed sociability to these networks. Tips, coupons and deals have all yielded monetization for a limited number of successful organizations. For a more mature content marketing effort, applications with great user experiences still make sense.

There have been and will continue to be the trials of adoption with the mobile internet. Monetization and fundraising via mobile can be quite a challenge. But make have no doubt. If you are not experimenting and migrating your online communications towards a mobile experience, then your brand will start suffering.

See Geoff Livingston, Beth Kanter and Allyson Kapin tomorrow at the Innogive, Mobile Giving Applied Conference, Washington, DC on March 16, Mobile and Social Media Panel