SoLoMo – the convergence of Social, Local and Mobile

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mobile-local-social

SoLoMo - Social Local Mobile

Like every other piece of buzz, or most other buzz at least, SoLoMo is not the end all. You will still be able to market other ways but for the local business: the chiropractor, the real estate agent, the auto repair center, and other services offering services within a relatively narrow diameter – SoLoMo is now.  Much like the yellow directories of yesterday SoLoMo focuses on local market areas with a higher transactional focus.

 

Breaking it down

Social is the first of the trinity of flavors. For our purposes, new media/online marketing, social begins online and ends in personal space. Sites like MeetUp and the horribly abused Facebook Events make it easy to plan and coordinate live events. (Yes, I know there are others – feel free to spam your own in the comments section.)

Local is relative. For a car dealer local may mean a 50 mile radius while for a chiropractor or cafe local is a 5 mile radius. This was an early challenge to marketers online and I addressed it as best I could back in 1998 when I wrote on iCobb, “in the future many websites will use IP numbers to determine an approximate location and deliver information more relevant to the visitor”. At the time most sites would have the user input a geographic location then poll the database based on user input. Now it’s blind on most sites.

Mobile is growing and will likely be the standard for the foreseeable future. As wireless bandwidths get faster and mobile devices take the place of laptops and desktops more and more users will make their first search and connection with others online. Apps like Color.com, a currently sparsely populated application, will make geolocal engagement a natural part of life.

Putting it all together

Often the reaction from small and medium businesses alike is, “how are we supposed to keep up and master all of these marketing challenges?” It really is not that difficult. In fact in today’s online world there are many solutions to provide everything you need to get started a a reasonable cost or simply an investment of time.

Business owners, more than anything else, need protection from scammers and inadequately experienced providers who will do little more than stir the waters and leave half-done things that would have been better never started. Keep this in mind: your brand is at stake. Having a half-assed social media presence, a blog you never write on or respond to comments on, a Twitter account you never check or a Foursquare special that expires 4 months ago is almost as bad as having a “Food’s great but the service sucks” sign on the front door of your restaurant.

Want more knowledge? Subscribe to the feed or just join up to be notified when new information is published. There are some great guest bloggers on the way and you can always listen to Social Media Edge, the podcast I started in 2008, for some of the brightest minds in new media marketing.

Real time influence means live transactional reward

Twenty years ago when you applied for a business phone it took about a week for the yellow directory sales pitches to start. They would drop in, phone, send cards and letters, rinse and repeat. My very first purchase of a yellow directory ad just about made me regurge but I knew I had to have it back in 1980. In fact without a yellow directory listing back then if you depended on people who did not drive by your storefront, I was in the entertainment electronics retail business, you may as well put on a monkey suit and stand on the street corner … selling rocks.

The cost of my first add, a half-page, was $3700 for a year. It reached roughly 180,000 people in 112,000 homes if I remember right. It worked. Most of my business back then came from the yellow directory with my second amount from storefront advertising.

The yellow directory was, for all practical purposes, the top search engine of the day. It produced a significant amount of revenue for shops like mine, plumbers, lawyers, auto-repair, tailors, doctors, squirrel catchers, and many more.  There was, however, a major catch: once that ad was printed and distributed it was set for the next 12 months. If you were specific about discounts or hours or special product offerings you better still be able to deliver.

Enter the digital age and live engagement

The ratio of use of yellow directory to purchase was in some cases staggering. Clients did not, generally, surf the yellow directory. Only when a real solution was needed do one look for the book and take a walk with their fingers. This point of need rendered a higher rate of return per “impression” than we generally see online today.

However …

Beginning with early websites around 1995 it was quickly discovered one could combine traditional advertisement with dynamic content. One of my early clients, Mel Abramavitz, owned a yellow directory which catered to upper middle class residents in our area. Together we brainstormed and I created the first real-time, customer editable yellow directory in our area. Though most of his customers, the retailers and service providers who advertised in his book, rarely made changes it was available to them. Some of the early adopters did entice people to visit the website and see the daily or weekly schedule.

Fast forward another 10 years

With the advent of real-time conversation on the Internet, outside of AOL’s chat rooms and IRC’s groups, companies and organizations now have the opportunity to do something we once could only do on the phone or face to face: listen, respond and transact.

Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, and others gives the organization with transactional intent the opportunity to listen – to tap in to trending changes in the market at large or even on a macro level. Negative perceptions can be corrected, positive influence can turn into capitalization, product concerns can be addressed, and even product or service offerings can be manipulated in the stream to maximize provider influence in a most dynamic market generation.

So get on

If you are a small business or large business and you are not functioning to full capacity as a market influence in real-time it is not too late to begin. Source a leader with proven experience in marketing and branding in the digital age to lead your organization into the future and give them room to err and correct for in a dynamic environment it is the rigid that breaks and the flexible with recovers quickly.

Social Marketing in a Digital Age

Social Marketing

More transactions start with search

Social marketing is as old as marketing. In fact the world’s oldest profession depended on social connections to work. The idea that social marketing is new or was “branded” in the 1970’s is simply ludicrous. In fact Ben Hale, author of Prepare Yourself For Success, wrote that during The Great Depression he reigned as the number one salesman of Chevrolet automobiles because he went where the people were and socialized with them.

To those who don’t get Facebook, Twitter and others

Most of your competition is happy to hear you do not want to go where the people are. They are well pleased you find social sites on the Internet as a childish waste of your time. Your prospective clients who “live” there are also happy to know you feel that way. Times have changed, as they always do, and are still changing. As goes the old saying “you are either in the race or in the crowd”.

If you have enough friends you never need to sell anything

Sell, in this context, means spend your resources convincing someone to become transactional with you. When enough individuals trust you, your product, your service, and/or your company they will sell for you. Or at least market for you. It will still be incumbent on you to complete the transaction. With enough referral agents that generally just means taking the money and delivering the order.

More and more transactions begin with an online search

From stomach aches to concert tickets, air travel to cooking utensils, more and more people are starting online, generally with a Google search, to find what they are looking for. This type of search is not in itself social but it can lead to social and social means trust – or trustworthy information.

If you Google “web design” for example you will be presented with several thousand choices. Most of the people on the other end of those clicks will be total strangers. However if you tweet “looking for a great web designer” and you have a few hundred connections you are likely to have someone reply with a suggestion. You can then interact with the person making the recommendation to get more information and build confidence in the connection you are about to make.

What if you were a web designer and you had a Twitter account and you just happened to be connected with the person who tweeted? If you had never engaged them in the past you are still an unknown. If you had engaged them in the past, however, you are now at least one step ahead in the trust business.

But it takes time

Many small business owners are extremely busy. This I know for I have been one most of my life. When it comes to marketing and how you will succeed in it, especially for the very small business startup, it becomes a matter of prioritizing your tasks. Social media

Guerrilla Social Media Marketing

really does not take your entire life. You can touch it a few times each day and spend a little extra time at night or on the weekends being strictly social. If you have properly branded yourself online with a well chosen name and some well placed graphics you won’t have any problem making people aware of what you do without intruding on their guarded trust.

Recommended reading for the social media explorer:

Guerrilla Social Media Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson and Shane Gibson. If you are a seasoned user you will find the book somewhat primary. If you’re new or less seasoned you’ll find the list of tools and descriptions very enlightening.

Cool iPhone Gadgets: iRig

iRig for iPhone

iRig for iPhone

iRig for iPhone/iPad

iRig – suggested retail price $59.95 or on Amazon for about $40

So you’re hanging out on a rainy weekend with nothing much to do but you have your guitar and you’d like to send someone special back home that addictive tune you’ve had in your head. Thing is all you have is your iPhone with it’s so-so audio. Then you remember you read this article on thekencook.com about a portable mini studio type device for your iPhone and you asked for it from your mom for Christmas and there’s a package you still haven’t opened (right, just play along) so you open it and inside there is a … iRig.

Within minutes you have use VocaLive, AmpliTube and iRig Recorder to create a rich, effects filled song you then set to a video which you upload to YouTube. Within hours a mega-producer named Simon something or other sees your video on YouTube and you’re on a private jet on the way to Atlanta to record your … again, play along.

But really – truly – this is one cool piece of equipment. Here are some bullet points from the iRig website:

  • Ideal for all vocal applications from singing to speech
  • Great for all types of sound recording or processing in music or any other audio application
  • Quality condenser-electret unidirectional capsule
  • Dual mini-jack connector allows real-time monitoring on headphones, speakers, mixers, PAs
  • Rugged, durable metal housing
  • Easy to set-up for any sound source
  • Can be handheld or placed on a standard mic stand
  • Comes with apps for singers and songwriters
  • Can be used with a wide variety of other apps

It’s multitrack, has a growing list of available add-ons, works on iPhone or iPad, and it’s very cool.

Not convinced? I am! Even if you’re just doing a daily podcast to recount the days events you can insert a back beat, vocal effects and crazy coolness.

If I ran Facebook: 7 changes I would consider

We all see the complaints. Facebook makes changes without warning then suffers the brutality of the social network it supports. This event is generally followed by backtracking and scrambling to “fix what they broke”. Let children run a company, nation or social behemoth and that’s what you’re going to get: unilateral decisions that don’t work the way their inexperience believes it will followed by backtracking for one reason – saving face. It happens in politics, too.

Granted I’ve made mistakes and I am fully capable of making more. Inexperience has given way to crotchetiness (is that a word?) and low blood-sugar powered decisions. When faced with a larger scale decision than where to eat, however, I have enough experience that says, “get counsel, listen to other people, measure twice – cut once”.

If I ran Facebook it probably wouldn’t exist. But let’s say they called today and offered me the presidency with a $100,000,000 salary plus perks. I’d say yes then here are some of the things I would consider. What I am really after is what would you do?

  1. No more surprise changes – everything would be beta tested by a wide slice of users similar to the way WordPress changes are proposed, debated, fine tuned, beta tested, fine tuned, debated, tweaked, then released. This may even include focus groups to read through proposed changes to policy and security measures.
  2. Make privacy easier to understand and control – I know from having hosted Social Media Edge for the last 3 years privacy is one of the biggest concerns on Facebook. People really aren’t sure how to find the privacy controls and then navigate the obfuscated interface to fine tune privacy controls. Privacy controls could quickly and easily be made more navigable by even the most average of Facebook users.
  3. Add the inverse of “Like” – you know you have seen things on your wall that you simply wanted to voice your opinion on without commenting when your emotion was not to “like” what was presented. Obviously someone very high up in the Facebook organization equated “don’t like” with “you’re not playing on our team because you’re a nerd”. Get over it, give the people a “Dislike” option.
  4. Share the wealth – let users participate in a revenue sharing program by sharing the wealth from clicks or impressions of ads on their pages. It’s not that difficult. Call me, I’ll do it for you.
  5. Require “Opt-In” for games and apps – instead of making the user individually block apps and games give them one choice to opt-out of all invites from any apps or any games. Would you invite someone to your house then set your laundry in their lap to have them fold it? If the answer is yes I don’t want to know.
  6. Sell vanity URLs – the one thing I know most people would pay for would be vanity URLs. Sure, they are free right now but why? This is the one revenue stream that wouldn’t tick off the users but would still allow a major annual income. I would pay $5 a year to have a custom URL for my business pages. With 1,000,000,000 pages that’s, uhm, you’re to college kid – you cipher it.
  7. Real customer support – want to be really different and really freindly? Have a team of thousands to answer stupid questions. Allow them to wait in a chat cue and give them ads to view while they are waiting if staff is not available. So long as the wait is under 5-10 minutes most people are going to be happier asking someone how to turn off SMS notifications than if they have to Google it and click on those Google ads while they are at someone else’s “I HATE FACEBOOK” site. (No brainer.)

Those are just some thoughts I have had. Like I said earlier what I really want to know is what would you do differently?

Mega Millions Winning Numbers and SEM

Mega Millions Winning Numbers

Mega Millions Winning Numbers

I’ve got a golden ticket. The nice part about this golden ticket, especially for search engine marketers, is the predictability it presents. Natural disasters, natural events like the death of a super-star, terrible accidents like the Challenger disaster, and similar events turn Google into a massive flurry of searches on those key words.

What search engine marketers should be looking for are ways to take hot search topics like those types of current events and leverage the results to their client’s benefits. Some say this is a disgusting approach when it involves human tragedy but the reality of it is this is simply a business technique that can be used to help the people personally affected by the tragedy. One example of so doing would be to place a donation link to a well recognized charity on the landing page. I digress, this is about leveraging something a little more capitalistic in nature: the Mega Millions lottery.

Google Trends Mega Millions

Mega Millions dominates Google search

Anyone who lives in an area where this government sponsored lottery is played knows as the lottery pool builds and the prize gets larger, such as the recent Mega Millions jackpot amount of $312 million dollars, the searches become more and more frequent. But there is an event even larger for related search terms: mega millions winning numbers.

Stay prepared to capture this search because as soon as it is announce that someone has one such a large amount the searches will grow rapidly on Google. Anyone who has purchased a Mega Millions lottery ticket for that drawing will be searching for the winning lottery numbers and most of those will be done online.

Below is a quick report from this site after this post had been indexed and you can see the results. The question, of course, is “bounce rate”. Are people who come to this page looking for the search terms “mega millions winning numbers” navigating to other pages on the site? In truth it is unlikely they are. So does that make this a wasted post or not?

Search Engine Marketing Results

Search Engine Marketing Results

Your thoughts are invited, is this a wasteful tactic?

Earth Hour dominates Social Media exchanges

Earth Hour March 26, 2011

Author: Ken Cook
Earth Hour in Hong Kong by Cychk

Earth Hour in Hong Kong by: Cychk

There is a new annual ritual in case you have missed it. Because of, or thanks in part to, social media and the Internet Earth Hour has exploded onto the scene. With its beginning in Australia only four years ago Earth Hour is an event which occurs between 8:30-9:30PM local time by turning off all lights and as many electrical systems as possible.

Just last year on March 27 the largest participation of Earth Hour yet came to be. Over 128 countries and territories had participants including the darkening of many well known buildings around the planet. Much of this success is due to the vast amount of chatter, blogging and other social sphere attention given to the event.

Las Vegas, Nevada, is well known as “the city that never sleeps” but during Earth Hour even the famed Strip will be dimmed as the neon goes dark for the hour on Saturday night. Other events around the world with celebrities like Fergie (of the Black Eyed Peas), Lady gaga and Britney Spears will be helping mark the hour with performances.

Earth Hour is promoted by the World Wildlife Foundation with the goal of decreasing the carbon footprint humanity burdens upon the earth. During the one hour everyone, every where is urged to participate by greatly decreasing or even terminating their electricity usage.

How do you plan to participate? Please comment and share this with your friends

Bigfoot spotted? Does he have a Facebook page?

Bigfoot Facebook pageOkay so I’m not a member of the convinced. I am also not a member of the unconvinced. I saw a “ghost” once and, though I know I saw something almost right in my face, I’m still not convinced of what I saw. Bigfoot, however, should have been captured by now. Seriously. I have my doubts about this footage because it doesn’t “look like Bigfoot”. Whatever that means.

The big question of the day is, “does Bigfoot have a Facebook page?” And the answer is, “Yes. Several.”

Interestingly there are two separate Bigfoot pages on Facebook with a total of about 33,000 fans. That means Bigfoot’s Facebook presence is worth more than mine and most of my clients. Be that as it may a friend wrote, “the color of hype is green”. So if Bigfoot is hype, and he is, why not shoot a “Bigfoot sequence” of video and use the hype to turn some green?

The conversation starter for this post is this video:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGz8qqRgTVQ

How can you use modern lore to create hype and turn some green?

Earthquake in Myanmar not as social worthy as tsunami in Japan?

Myanmar - BurmaI find it interesting that in the minutes following the earthquake, even before the tsunami had made much progress on its journey, the news of the devastation in Japan was all over the social network. In fact one almost could not follow Twitter if the search term Japan were included. Now, just a couple of weeks later, a devastating 6.8 magnitude earthquake has rocked Myanmar and the tweets can be counted by just watching them refresh.

There are 127,000,000 people (approximately) in Japan. In Myanmar there are roughly 52,000 – less than half.  The number of US citizens in Japan compared to the number in Myanmar (the State Department still refers to it as “Burma”) is very lopsided. One, without too much research, can only imagine that is mirrored with other countries. Still, you would think at least a few thousand tweets would have been sent.

Then again, the story can end here with this quote from the US State Department website, “The military regime carefully controls and monitors all Internet use in Burma (Myanmar) and restricts Internet access through software-based censorship that limits the materials individuals can access online.”

Still, the rest of the world will come to their aid, their rescue, and I would not have that any other way. Meanwhile back to Whoopi Goldberg and Donald Trump … what a world we live in.

Are you optimized for the mobile web?

You have heard it, you’ve read about it, people who appear to know stuff have told you: the digital revolution is unwired and if you don’t feed it what it needs to exist it will move on without you. When is this going to happen? It’s already, almost, so last year.

We cannot imagine the resistance Alexander Bell experienced. I remember hearing old people talking about it back int he 60’s saying they thought the phone would be a huge invasion and some called it “the devil’s box”. Why do we always credit “the devil” with innovation? But I digress. Let’s look at communications changes over the last few thousand years:Infographic of the history of communications

When I was in communcations classes some 30 years ago we were told 90% of the advancements in communications had been made since 1900. The number today must be closer to 99% of the advancements since 1969.

Many humans are slow to embrace change. Those who are generally miss the opportunity to leverage the excitement of new chances. Now we all know not everyone can do everything. You can’t be a specialist at real estate and a social media guru and a web programmer and a mobile technology expert … the list goes on. You can, however, use the technology as it is made available to you as an “early adopter”.

The important reason to be an early adopter is because if you are a late adopter by the time you start using the old technology another technology has come into play and the old technology is dead. Why is this important? Be where your buyers are coming instead of where they have already been.

We know, now, after me being laughed and scoffed at by Mrs. Garner some 15 years ago, over 80% of all home searches are started on the internet. I bet if she were still in the business she’d have a website just like every other agent. But I wonder if she would scoff at me when I called to tell her she needs to optimze her website for mobile?

What does this mean, “optimize for mobile”?

Simply put a website created for display on a larger screen laptop or desk top computer is not going to present well on a smaller screen mobile device. The browsers, for the most part, are completely different, smaller in byte size and present the web pages in a different manner than when used on a computer. Even though mobile is new it is re-inventing a few wheels to make use of existing data in the new technology.

The subject is vast and a complete dissemination of the topic is far beyond the scope of a simple blogpost like this one. Do some research. Check your stats (you do track them, right?) and see how much of your web traffic comes from mobile. On one of my sites I’m at 13%. Thirteen percent. Would you close your doors to 13 out of 100 people who tried to come and buy from you?

Then there’s video. Don’t scoff – mobile and video go together like movies and popcorn …

See you at REtechSouth. Speaking of video, come dressed for your debut. I’ll be doing free green screen sessions at the event! My session is on how to actually cut through the smoke and generate some leads online. Not theory, my actual tools that I use and have used to generate millions in gross income.

Image credits:

(Phoenician alphabet) (Parchment) (Chinese horesmen) (Gutenberg press) (Marconi radio)

Infographic:

You are free to use the infographic in any way you wish so long as you either link the image back to http://icobb.com or place a credit in the article thus: <a href=”http://icobb.com” title=”Social Optimization” target=”_blank”><img src=”whereveryoustoredtheimage” alt=”Infographic by @thekencook”></a>