By Richard Anderson I recently attended ‘The Convergence of Social & Mobile’ at IBM’s suitably suave offices as part of Social Medi...

The convergence of social

By Richard Anderson

I recently attended ‘The Convergence of Social & Mobile’ at IBM’s suitably suave offices as part of Social Media Week 2014 and will here focus on Anne Salz, Matthew Candy and Nick Pestell’s discussions plus some mind wanderings from me. Whilst Anna and Matthew focused on great examples of how mobile & social continue to impact our social interactions, Nick gave us a more pragmatic approach about how our mobile/social interaction has caused marketers to react in order to remain relevant. A theme that emerged was that we should no longer see ‘mobile’ and ‘social’ as separate entities but rather begin to accept them as a type of consumer behavior.

First up was Peggy, who gave us a reminder of what being mobile actually means (in context of tech):

1.     Personal – we choose our mobiles, their model, how they look etc and they gradually become an extension of ourselves. 
2.     Portable – Moveable and thus with us all the time.
3.     Pedestrian –  Not dull, but a way of carrying out mundane tasks (Salz described our smart phones as ‘life managers’)
4.     Participatory – They enable bringing people together.

Talking about ‘Pedestrian’, I particularly liked Salz’s example of Amazon’s new ‘Mayday’ service which she labeled a type of ‘Outsourcing of our brains’. Users who encounter a problem with their Kindle can connect straight to a live Amazon advisor who visually and audibly guides you through the problem. It’s Sulz’s opinion that these kinds of technological improvements raising the bar in their industry that will have an impact on those well beyond mobile. Say we all like and begin to value Amazon’s Mayday’, isn’t that just going to annoy us off when we’re playing on our next gadget that doesn’t offer it? When we encounter great experiences, we gradually come to expect ‘great’ all the time, no matter what the technology. Thus brands are going to have to rethink customer services in an attempt to keep up with those brands doing the best job digitally.

This kind of outsourcing our brain is a trend Sulz expects to continue, and to be driven largely by mobile. Desktop and PC’s have got us so far but their usefulness is obviously constrained by proximity where mobile technology is not.

A great social ‘Participatory’ example that Matthew Candy, from IBM, later spoke about was Boston Hospital Open Pediatrics, which is a free interactive digital learning platform that provides medical education to over 100 countries. By connecting people worldwide, this technology performs social good by empowering people with knowledge. “Data is the new oil”, was a phrase I found thought provoking, though perhaps more understandable in a commercial context. At IBM they have recently partnered with Tesco’s to create a sharing platform for all Tesco employees, a simple but effective way of pooling knowledge and encouraging collaboration. It’s Matthew’s belief that businesses are too compartmentalized in the way they look at embracing social learning and that opportunities are being missed.

Next up was Nick Perrell, an agency representative from Facebook who impressed us with some Facebook stats. Perhaps the most striking for mobile and social’s convergence is that 63% of Facebook’s revenue is now driven by devices that didn’t even exist a year ago. So if we’re increasingly adopting social on our mobile devices, there’s clearly still growing potential for brands. In fact, the average user is now checking Facebook 15 times per day. However, Nick made no secret of the fact that brands increasingly need to be savvier with their posting strategy, “The gap between content created and the time to consume content is widening”.  Given this plus the (widely known but not admitted) understanding that brands’ reach is being ever-cannibalized, he stressed the importance of content needing to be ‘atomized’; regular and easy to dip in and dip out of. That, and the need for it to be in tune with how consumers want to consume content.

Consumption of video content has changed dramatically over the past year and represents a significant shift in our mobile behaviour. Nick revealed that during the #IceBucketChallenge; 17 million videos were shared on Facebook - an unprecedented volume, with mobile no doubt playing a huge part, be it the recording device or the player. It’s no surprise that brands have followed this video trend, with 70% of marketers now using video in their advertising.(Marketing Tech Blog 2014).

Focusing lastly on mobile’s role in the customer journey, Nick explained that 67% of digital purchasers begin on one device before moving to another. He suggested that if brands aren’t fully mobile-friendly, then they’re not even at the start of the customer journey and won’t capitalize on their mobile acquisition. I tend to agree, however, I’m unsure where social fits into this, if at all.

The last speaker, Mick Rigby (CEO of Yodel Mobile) summarized nicely, that he felt social wasn’t the silver bullet for mobile marketers but that it would continue to be an driving part of the mobile mix especially as usage increases exponentially, with half the population expected to have a smartphone by 2017.  His 3 point strategy for marketers across mobile and social is simple he says: ‘Acquire, Retain, Advocate’.

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