The reactions to the Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent manhunt put on public display the rush—-and at times conflicting—-emotions these events had on the people of Boston and others around the world. Below you’ll find grief, anger, disbelief, fear, elation, and pride—-as well as healthy dose of that wry Boston wit that provided moments of relief in the face of something so heinous.
We are far from reaching the end of this saga, and there are so many questions left to unpack. To help the many victims of these attacks heal in both body and mind, please consider a donation to The One Fund.
Though this point is related to continuity, it’s more about deeply understanding how and why encounters with your brand via mobile are different from a non-mobile experience. For example, 50% of mobile search queries have local intent, which means brands with brick and mortar locations better make sure their Google Local listings are up to date. Optimizing your mobile site and using mobile Adwords campaigns (good things to do whether or not you have a retail location) also will help your brand get found on mobile devices.
Beyond search, think about how the in-store experience can be enhanced by mobile technologies (and the infrastructure that supports them, e.g. free wifi). Have a retail clothing location? Next to selected items, provide links to a photo album of the item being worn by real people, ideally with other items from your store. Have a coffee shop? Provide links (and even QR codes—done correctly they can be effective) to videos of how coffee is made or a short guide that explains the differences between a misto, a cappuccino, and a latte. Even a service-oriented location like a banks or doctors’ offices can provide extras—messages from employees or helpful information.
Why should brands consider spending resources on mobile experiences? They increase time in store, they showcase the brand as an expert or resource, and they increase the emotional bond with prospects and customers right at the point of sale (or service) by providing the right experience at exactly the right moment. With so many options to buy online, the in-store experience has to provide something that Amazon can never touch despite its convenience.
But mobile usage doesn’t occur solely outside the home either, and the popularity of second screening is proof. For large brands with big budgets, mobile advertising, landing page optimization, and social media campaigns can enhance TV advertising. It’s no longer solely about who can buy the most air time; the marketing battle is about who can most effectively capture share of attention.
When I’m consulting on a marketing campaign or program and Twitter is one of the channels we’re utilizing, inevitably there’s at least one person in the room who is very concerned about hashtags. What hashtags they should be using in general or what hashtag should be for a particular campaign or event.
Here’s how I break down the hashtag discussion to keep strategy conversations on track.It’s one of those social media artifacts that often gets way too much emphasis (like retweets) because it’s something that folks who don’t do this stuff every day can point to as a “best practice” or strategy. But the reality is that there is no hashtag you can use three times, click your heels, and land in that fertile country known as Brand Bliss. Hashtags are not magic and they will not make or break a campaign or overall program.
The hashtag as a topic indexing tool is useless
Not that I position that statement exactly like that to clients, but that’s the general message. This gets to the first question of “what hashtags should we be including in our everyday tweeting.” My answer to that is almost always zero. If you’re just hashtagging topics like #mobile or #B2B or #London, the sheer volume of those topics obliterates any kind of context that hashtag would have. Even if someone did have a saved search of “#mobile” in one of their Hootsuite streams, the likelihood of that person honing in on your tweet is severely diminished by the amount and speed of the new content rushing by.
If you’re concerned about search on Twitter, hashtags don’t matter much there either. A search for “#mobile” and “mobile” brings up the same results. #Endofconversation.
Topic Filtering on LinkedIn and Google+
However, I do find topic hashtags much more useful on platforms like LinkedIn and Google+ . This may be a function of post volume (much less on those platforms). But I think it’s also a function that the context those platforms provide as well. With LinkedIn you can filter your results very granularly (look for a post about this soon) and Google+ offers the ability to filter by post type, contact type, or location. This added context makes the information made available by topic indexing much more valuable.
Hashtags as a breadcrumb trail
Hashtagging may be a poor indexing strategy on Twitter, but it is an effective breadcrumb trail for conversations and events. Why? It’s a real time filtering method for conversations about a specific topic at a specific time. These type of hashtags are kind of like tissues—-really useful for the time that you need them, but then you throw them away. And what the hashtag is is less important than actually having one—-within reason. A few quick tips for choosing an event or chat hashtag:
The fewer characters the better
Make it easy to remember (e.g., use your event’s initials)
Make sure it doesn’t look weird (e.g. too many of the same letters in a row)
And you don’t need to “ask” anyone if it’s okay to use that hashtag. Make one up and do a search to see if anyone else is using it. If it’s not popular (say 25 tweets or less) and if it’s not an abbreviation of some weird thing kids are doing nowadays, go for it. Basta.
I recently set out to write a blog post about all the different angles marketers need to consider when developing their mobile strategy. When I got up to 2000 words, I realized I needed to make this a series or folks’ eyes were going to start to bleed. So every Thursday for at least the next six weeks (six because that’s how many topics I have now, but I’m sure I’ll think of more) I’ll post about a different mobile topic.
It couldn’t be more clear that we are past the point where mobile is an add-on or after thought; mobile is integral to any go-to-market strategy from here to the foreseeable future.
But ”mobile” is much more an optimized website or an ill-used QR code. All too often when the industry talks about mobile, the emphasis seems to be on a particular technology and not on why consumers are driving the shift in this behavior in the first place.
Marketers setting out to define their mobile strategy in 2013 need to first understand the situations and behaviors that drive mobile use and then employ tactics and technologies that fit those parameters—not the other way around. Companies that get this right in 2013 and going to be way ahead of the pack in 2014.
Continuity Across Platforms is the first topic in my mobile series about the many different perspectives marketers can look at mobile technology and strategy.
How annoying is it when the actions you need to take to complete a task on a website greatly differ (or are the inverse) from the mobile app? I find this more of a problem with large sites and products like Facebook and Twitter than with the likes of Evernote and Pocket. (One social network that has done this is well is Google+; of all the major social networks it made the best mobile app.)
Admittedly, distilling Facebook into an app is a far more complex task than creating a bookmarking app (talk about layers of functionality). However, I do think some of the issues stem from two separate engineering teams (one web, one mobile) developing two separate products but not working together on what should feel like the same experience.
But this kind of problem is not limited to engineering departments, of course. When different individuals or departments own different pieces of the customer experience, it’s no wonder that experience can feel disjointed. These kind of silos are especially obvious (and painful) at larger organizations. Which is why many companies are hiring customer experience officers. These folks work across departments not to make cookie cutter experiences, but to make sure the customer journey is in line with the brand and in line with the customers’ needs.
This same kind of logic applies when we start to think about how and why customers and prospects are encountering a brand on a mobile device vs. a desktop device. When accessing a website or app, most users are not consciously thinking “I am using a web based app” or “I am using a mobile app.” In the minds of most people, it’s all the same experience regardless of where it happens, so brands need to work to make sure it feels like it.
But this is not to say that a every product has to cram every bit of its functionality into a mobile app. Can you imagine trying to be a Salesforce admin via iPhone only? The key is to understand why a user might access your business or website via mobile and giving them what they need to do what they need to do.
There are some companies have a mobile app just to say they have a mobile app. If it’s not adding to the experience, it’s taking away from your brand. It’s hard to regain the love of a customer or prospect when you’ve fiddled with their expectations. So if it doesn’t make sense for your company to build an app or provide part of your brand experience via mobile, then don’t do it.
Instead monitor your web metrics, find out what folks are trying to access on your site via mobile, and make those parts of the experience easily accessible (and findable) via a mobile device.
Don’t approach your mobile strategy with the mindset of developing something cool for cool’s sake. Take an integrated approach with a problem-solving mindset. Start with two questions:” Does this make sense for our brand?” and “Does this solve a problem or otherwise enhance the customer experience?” If you can answer yes to both of those questions, that’s a good start.
Since Wired’s Jeff Howe coined the term ‘croudsourcing’ back in 2006, the practise has gained so much momentum that the sub genres of crowdfunding, crowd voting, and creative crowdsourcing(among others) are now commonplace. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are some the most successful examples of crowdfunding platforms, while many major consumer brands have crowdsourced everything from beer to LEGOs to Google Doodles.