LBS and Mobile Marketing and Business Development

Wilson Kerr

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All You Need To Know About Social Media Check-Ins and Their Importance: Blog Feed Post

Confusion Reigns for Brands, But the Social Media Future Is Bright

How to measure ROI

A recent report by E-Consultancy on the Value Of Social Media, shows some interesting statistics on the level of use of social media by over 400 companies surveyed and the general “experimental” stage most are in, regarding this new way to reach consumers.

Few would argue that there is a big opportunity for companies to take advantage of the myriad of social media marketing options. But this same myriad can be confusing and the options are evolving at a blistering pace. For brands and agencies used to traditional media campaign timelines and planning, it can be daunting to simply keep up with the options available, let alone form a coherent strategy that dovetails with current messaging. Given this, it’s not surprising that few companies have a firm grasp on the subject.

The ROI Problem

A pressing question for those dipping a toe in the social media waters is how to measure ROI. According to the report, “A third of respondents (32%) are getting less than 1x the return on investment from social media.”  The survey summary also states that, “Almost two-thirds of respondents (61%) say their organizations are “poor” (34%) or “very poor” (27%) at measuring ROI.”

Few would argue that the use of social media can drive brand awareness and open exciting new touch-points with consumers, but few social media platforms offer any real metrics for showing brands what the upside for all this work is. Web banner ads, keyword search buys, and mobile ad campaigns all come with metrics and performance elements that allow brands to measure ROI. Social media platforms need to catch up and offer these tools to businesses.

The At-Home Vs. Mobile User Experience Delta
Three quarters of brands (74%) in the survey say they use social media to drive consumers to their website. This is the traditional path and works fine if old fashioned branding is your goal. As such, it’s no surprise that “brand recognition” and “brand reputation” are the second (64%) and third (63%) reasons given for social media marketing participation. For regular at-home website visitors, this is OK, but it does not translate to mobile.

For example, spending some time here at my desk visiting doritos.com and the intense flash media experience found there makes me perhaps a bit more-likely to buy some doritos. In mobile, this is a disaster and simply does not translate. I do not want a branding experience that takes 4 minutes to load on my iphone when I am walking down the street. I do not want to install Flash. I do not want to have to enter my zip code. I want doritos!

My point is that, when a consumer is “out and about”, they behave differently than when they are sitting at home on a fast web connection displayed on a large screen. Most brands do not have mobile optimized sites, let alone a store locator that interfaces with the location awareness of the mobile devices we all carry 16 hours a day. No wonder 74% of companies say they do nothing or have “only experimented” with social media. They need to grasp the implications of the differences between mobile consumer behavior and at-home web browsing, before they dive in.

The Mobile “I Want It Now” Factor

Store locators are what most companies use to promote their locations but, if they are delivered on a standard website to a mobile consumer, the zip code entry interfaces ae clumsy (and the related poor mapping that does not tap into the location-awareness of the mobile device). This, along with the obvious screen size and zoom limitations of most phones, makes these experiences suboptimal for mobile consumers.

Brands need to build a functional place for mobile consumers to “land” and then deliver quick gratification that honors the fact that a highly prequalified consumer that “asked for more” is mobile and wants actionable, location-relevant information. Once built, social media is an excellent way to drive mobile consumers to a site optimized for mobile. The primary goal should be to honor the “I want it now” factor by converting opt-in mobile site visitors to incremental customers, by delivering the locations that carry their products.

“Checking In” To A Brighter Future

It is not a bad thing that companies are moving forward with some trepidation. They can afford to wait a bit, especially as the various social media platforms work on providing analytics and tools that measure the interaction with brand entities. While some platforms have enough traffic to monetise through ads, the smarter play is to tap into the ability to quantify incremental store visits by giving the brands access to a larger store locator within an interface that users know, trust, and want use to share current location information with friends.

The hottest and best example of this is, of course, Social Networking Games. No longer fringe, these hot platforms could solve the ROI problem and are tailored to mobile from the start. The games serve as a social network trojan horse that, for the first time, captures opt-in incremental store visits and makes the process fun, useful and viral. This metric has the potential to solidify into a new ad unit of immense impact, as check-ins are poised to be the new currency of mobile advertising.

Gowalla and Foursquare are the leaders and Foursquare’s recent business tool announcement tips their hand and shows the true potential of these popular platforms. They are, “pioneering a deeper connection between place and patron.” Preloaded on almost every AT&T phone, Ulocate’s WHERE platform is another example. They recently introduced a new “Check-In” feature with their version 3.4.

The mighty Facebook is working on “check-ins” as a direct result of Foursquare and Gowalla’s early leads. This is important because, according to the report,  “Facebook is the Web property mostly commonly used in social media, with 85% of companies using this site as part of their marketing strategy.”

The Tip Of The Iceberg

Mark my words: The social media networking platforms that capture valid, verified check-ins, and deliver the opt-in incremental store visit metrics these check-ins fuel in the right way, are going to be unlocking a very big door.

With 69% of companies spending between $0 and $5K per year on social media, we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg. As Social Media platforms evolve and cater themselves to the businesses that serve as the locations for check-ins and other key realworld interaction elements, brands and their agencies should be able to make better sense of the landscape, and tap into this powerful new marketing resource.

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More Stories By Wilson Kerr

Wilson has 11+ years experience in the Mobile and Location Based Services (LBS) space. Recently, he became Director Of Business Development and Sales for Unbound Commerce, a Boston-based mobile commerce solution provider. He has deep expertise in the areas of mobile commerce, social media, branded location integration, branded content licensing, and is knowledgeable in a broad range of navigation technologies. Wilson has worked with top tier brands, content providers, device manufacturers, and application developers, including Nokia, Unbound Commerce, Tele Atlas/TomTom, The Travel Channel, Langenscheidt Publishing, Intellistry, Parking In Motion, GPS-POI-US, and others. Wilson is a blogger on all things location-based, edits the LBS topic page on Ulitzer, teaches a Social Media 101 class, and has served as a panelist and speaker at Mobile LBS conferences and networking events. Wilson has held positions in Business Development, Sales/Marketing, and Digital Licensing at The North Face, Outdoor Intelligence, Fishing Hot Spots Maps, Tele Atlas North America/TomTom and, most-recently, Unbound Commerce. Wilson left Tele Atlas to start Location Based Strategy, LLC in 2007. Company Website: http://www.LBStrategy.com. Twitter: @WLLK