Mobile devices are rapidly changing the media industry. Consumers are more demanding, vocal, socially active, expecting on-demand information, customized user experiences, and mobile apps that entertain them, enhance their daily routine, and connect them. All of these expectations exist because they now have the means to voice their opinions, share their ideas and daily happenings, and ultimately shape the mobile market. Social media services recognize this trend and continue to play a role in enhancing mobile experience. Facebook is no exception. In his letter to potential shareholders, May 2012, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, stated, “We hope to rewire the way people spread and consume information…We think a more open and connected world will help create a stronger economy with more authentic businesses that build better products and services.”
Zuckerberg is suggesting that, with the technologies that exist today, there’s an opportunity for brands to think differently and to be a part of a new wave of connectivity. What does this mean? It means mobile technologies are changing the way we interact with others and giving brands a massive mobile marketplace. To global consumers, it means that mobile devices are putting power in their pockets. Consumers are interacting with brands wherever they are in the context of that particular moment. Brands, to survive and thrive in a socially competitive culture, are marketing and promoting their products or services and interacting with their consumers either through mobile apps that are available in the market or creating apps specifically for their brands for use with mobile devices. There are mobile apps for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Instagram, WordPress, Vimeo, Youtube, etc. Even brands like Ikea, Target, Walmart, Amazon.com, and other retailers have apps for products browsing and shopping. Regardless of what industry you’re in and products or services you’re providing, mobile market with its massive offerings has something for you, your business, and your consumers. There are huge opportunities being presented to brands to deliver products and services for mobile devices to meet the needs of today. Let’s take a look at some of these offerings (it’s quite impossible to cover everything in one article) and how they may fit into your brand by thinking of them in terms of how they change consumers’ imagination and behavior. We will then be able to see why mobile apps are empowering everyone by comparing the “then” and the “now”.
- Life stories. Mobile technologies, along with social media outlets, give us the means to communicate through media discovery feed where our life stories are captured and shared instantaneously. Before these feeds, life stories were less accessible and had to be crafted into biographies or art exhibitions of famous people before they were shared; and the sharing of daily life stories is delayed. No longer do we have to hunt and dig for information that is now widely accessible. Imagine all the real-time stories that are being told through text messages, video, pictures, pins, updates via social media sites, etc. Think of Flickr “Share Your Life in Photos” to show off historic photos, for example. Think of discovery engines such as StumbleUpon that allow us to discover and rate web pages, photos, and videos. StumbleUpon is perfect for us consumers to personalize these items to fit our tastes and interests. Your brand can take advantage of its web content finding and recommendation features by establishing an online presence with your use of social networks. Also think of QR codes as a means to provide your consumers with additional information on your brand and physical resources such as historical images of buildings, locations, etc. It’s another way to promote your products or services as creating memorable life stories and enriching. The bottom-line – there are many opportunities for your brand to utilize the life story themes by using peer sourcing and social media principles.
- News. Thanks to Twitter and other news apps, real-time reporting via mobile devices now has a more global reach. No longer are news and information flowing and sharing being delayed and only reaching at the regional or national level. Imagine using social news sites such as Reddit, Newsvine, and Digg to deliver news to our screen immediately. Communicate to your consumers using social news media sites to update them on anything about your brand. Since consumers follow your Twitter feed and get updates of your news chronologically, it’s a great way to give them newsworthy information.
- Pencils, papers, post-its, and scribbles on napkins. No longer are these the only means to capture notes. Imagine note-taking apps that can take their place. Evernote, one example of such app, gives mobile users the ability to add searchable notes with picture and audio and sync them with multiple devices. Notability for iPad app allows us to take notes and annotate PDFs with Dropbox Sync. With apps such as Flipboard, sharing a more personalized, up-to-date interactive content is available with a simple touch. Use any one of these to capture and share notes while interacting with your consumers, customers, partners, affiliates, staff, and any decision making personnel.
- Paper, scissors, and glue. With apps such as Pinterest, it takes one click to pin, share, and follow. Consumers are using this virtual bulletin board to share and collect images and contents that they love. Retailers, such as Etsy, Real Simple, Whole Foods, Bergdorf Goodman, and West Elm are taking notice and participating in this new way of thinking. Follow their leads and publicize your presence by adding the Pinterest button to your website, asking your fans to take pictures of themselves with your products, and asking them for suggestions on what pinboards your brand should create. Make sure to utilize social media sites when reaching out to them to pin things of interest. Check out The Travel Channel’s pinboards that were produced as a result of reaching out to their Facebook fans. This is an example of a good use of both a social media site and Pinterest. The best way to make use of Pinterest is to browse its most popular pins to see what interest most consumers and get ideas on how to craft your own pins for your brand that will appeal to your target audience.
- Drawings on canvases with limited distribution. This is no longer the only option. Imagine apps such as Zynga’s Draw Something and Canvas for Apple’s devices that let users draw on devices with reusable “canvases” screen. We are now all artists, creating digitally enhanced art anywhere anytime. What does drawing apps have to do with your brand? Regardless of your industry and product and service offerings, you should observe what other brands and competitors are doing to entice their consumers. What UI design are they using? What social media adds-on are they utilizing? How are they being social with their consumers? How are they making use of the interplay between their apps and other social media sites? These are just a few examples of why you would want to know what’s popular in the marketplace.
- Manually transferring digital files, pictures, and images. With apps such as Instagram, sharing and syncing are available instantly. Why not use Instagram to help your market your brand and interact with your consumers?
- Books and Magazines. Why carry a book or magazine when there are apps available for Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble Nook, and other e-readers? Your brand can make use of this by advertising your promotion and marketing your brand’s image in magazines that are available on apps. Brands that make good use of digital magazines through their apps include Conde Nast’s magazines (e.g. GQ, Glamour, Allure, Vogue, Style, Wired, Reddit, Golf Digest, Bon Appetit, etc.). Check out these e-reader apps to inspire your brand to come up with ideas to connect with consumers.
- 2D codes. 2D codes such as QR (Quick Response) codes are becoming popular. We see them on products, museums, advertisements, retail stores, brands, and catalogs. They can be read by Smartphones, iPod Touch, iPad, and other mobile devices from print media. Scanning the QR code will take consumers to a Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) page, a standard that is used for accessing information over a mobile wireless network. Utilize this technology to give your consumer information about your brand, navigate them to your special deals, and enable them to find you.
The bottom-line to your business. Your apps can be in consumer’s pocket. Use mobile technologies in conjunction with social media tools to build your brand’s awareness, popularity, promotions, marketability, and relationships with consumers. Be innovative. Be creative. Be in the action. Does this article strike a chord with you? Hopefully, this article provides you with some ideas on how to connect with your consumers and build a relationship with them. Share your thoughts and ideas here.