Technology benefits our daily lives. Google maps can display any location on the globe. Facebook reconnects friends near and far. Blogs allow voices large or small to be heard.
Technology has also allowed us to move so quickly that at times it can be overwhelming too. I find myself in information overload with too many posts to read, too many photos to upload and too many status updates to comment. When I got my iPhone, I didn’t know where to begin. There seemed to be some useful options in the App Store, but a lot of junk too. So I just asked my co-workers what applications they liked best.
Now there’s an iPhone application that is capitalizing on the all-powerful tool – the friend recommendation. As highlighted in the New York Times, Chorus is a new app that lets users see what friends have downloaded and rated highly. The application lets users add friends to Chorus via Facebook, Twitter or an email account. Chorus also makes recommendations via an algorithm based on other apps the user has downloaded. There is also an App Maven feature – apps recommended by notable Chorus users (think popular, featured commenters on blogs). There are a handful of similar applications available on the market.
This seems like a promising application. It transforms word-of-mouth into an actionable tool for iPhone users. Furthermore, marketers could look to use Chorus to energize avid customers and drive user recommendations. And once again it is a technology that opens the door for consumers to connect with one another in new, meaningful – and helpful ways.
For marketers struggling to identify the most relevant and effective way to interact with consumers online, eMarketer has posted some interesting results from Lightspeed Research’s “Global Web Index.” Not surprising given the current economy, consumers indicated the number one thing they want online from a brand is discount offers. From there, the study reveals that consumers also want brands to facilitate the sharing of information, provide engagement opportunities and offer functionality. Actions like news and analysis, ideas and thinking, and useful online applications rank highest.
Less functional tactics, like sponsorship of sports teams or websites and celebrity associations were seen as least relevant.
Also not surprising, consumers identified word of mouth as the number one source of information in influencing purchase decision. In this case, old fashioned communication with a family member or friend was seen as the most trusted, followed by advice from an expert. Only then do recommendations via social networks come into play.
This data is a helpful reminder that a well thought out plan is paramount in the use of new technologies. It’s not enough just to be online and have “fans” or “followers,” if you’re not doing anything for them. Understand the needs of your consumer, offer a tangible product, build credibility through your actions and enrich the consumer experience online.
In this blog, my attention thus far has largely been focused on branding and marketing in social and online media like Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other new tools. What I haven’t yet explored are the devices used by consumers to access these new tools. The most recent U.S. Census Bureau report on internet usage showed that 62% of households reported internet access in the home. While the penetration of mobile devices is relatively low in comparison, this category is experiencing rapid growth as well. According to the Nielsen Company, “the total number of smartphone subscribers increased 72% quarter-over-quarter, growing from 15 million subscribers in Q2 2008 to 26 million in Q2 2009.”
Many industry experts believe mobile marketing represents a significant and somewhat yet to be realized advertising opportunity. eMarketer predicts that mobile ad spend will grow significantly over the next several years as smartphone usage expands and marketers grow more comfortable with the device as a vehicle:
While ad spend projections differ, research firm the Kelsey Group also believes the mobile ad market is set to experience substantial growth. The firm predicts the largest chunk will go to mobile search advertising, which is natural given how smartphones help consumers function on the go in their daily lives. The Kelsey Group predicts display ads to grow ever so slightly, but expects SMS use for marketing purposes to decline. (I wonder about the decline in SMS marketing particularly for teens, given text messaging dominance among this age set.)
So where do brands begin if considering mobile advertising as part of the marketing mix? Forrester Research recommends always starting with “people” – the target. “You have to start by assessing the mobile technologies your customers use.” If your consumers are mobile users, then determine your objective and strategy. And above all else, Forrester points to two key lessons: key it simple and integrate your mobile tactics with other media.