Category Archives: Social Media

Mobile Customer Engagement: Some Initial Considerations

What does engagement truly mean? We talk about it a lot don’t we? It’s the buzz word. We can be sure to slide into every conversation if we drop the customer engagement key words. People make money selling it; a lot of it. Yet many have not stopped to really think what engagement means to them and their business.

I must confess that I have a fear. Okay, fear might be an overstatement … but please play along.

This is my fear – that organizations (of any size) will try mobility as a means of ‘engaging’ their own customers without thinking the process through.

To help you along the process and just to give you some food for thought here are some questions to consider along the way:

  1. How deeply do you want to engage your customers while they are mobile?
  2. How well do you really know your customers while mobile?
  3. How well should you know them?
  4. Does your customer need you in the form of a mobile application?
  5. Is a mobile app the best way to engage with your customers?
  6. Can you (should you) influence your customers at the point of decision?
  7. Or would you gain more if you influence them at other points in their buying journey?
  8. Do you want your customers to transact with you through mobile?
  9. Or do you want mobility as a vehicle to raise awareness of your business and its products?

As always there are more questions but 9 seems like a good number.

Mobile Becomes A Social Media Lifeline

Beautiful Sunday morning here in Toronto (Mississauga to be precise).
As I catch up on reading and wait for the family to wake up before we head to church I thought I would share this post from Harvard Business. David Armano writes a Conversation Starter on the Six Social Media Trends for 2010… and these are:

  1. Social media begins to look less social
  2. Corporations look to scale
  3. Social business becomes serious play
  4. Your company will have a social media policy (and it might actually be enforced)
  5. Mobile becomes a social media lifeline
  6. Sharing no longer means e-mail

Of special interest to some of you will be #5:

With approximately 70 percent of organizations banning social networks and, simultaneously, sales of smartphones on the rise, it’s likely that employees will seek to feed their social media addictions on their mobile devices. What used to be cigarette breaks could turn into “social media breaks” as long as there is a clear signal and IT isn’t looking.

I certainly hope that most of you reading this realize that the value of mobility goes way beyond social media. In fact it is my opinion that social media as a business tool is not for every role/position. It can certainly be a waste of time. Believe me … been there and done that. Unless you see an ROI you truly need to have social media policies in place.

Head over there for the full post by clicking here.

Mobile Application Development And Consumers – Going From Workflows to Lifeflows

Much has been written on how innovative ideas are born, evolved and tested first on consumers before they make their way into the enterprise. We have seen it with Web 2.0 and social media and social networking.  This is absolutely true and the consumer market proves to be a wonderful and invaluable living lab for the enterprise.  In most cases the enterprise doesn’t have a choice since after the consumer market tests and likes something they take it to work!

Becoming A Better Mobile Application Developer for Consumers

Today I am going to propose something that will go the other way instead. It goes backwards (so to speak) from the enterprise to the common folk out there. If you learn this small and valuable lesson you will become a better developer of mobile consumer applications. You may not become a rock star in the App Store overnight but your hard work will pay off in the end way after the rock star’s have faded. Your applications will be more relevant, meaningful and useful to the end user.

I made the following point a few days ago:

…if we want to talk specifically about mobile workers the conversation cannot revolve around any one of the above points. Instead it needs to focus on one thing:

the mobile worker as part of a process that adds value to your organization

I was trying to drive the point that you you need to focus on the user and their process if you are going to build a mobile application that will add value to an organization.  Don’t mobilize for the sake of mobilizing!  Do so because it adds value.

From Workflow to Lifeflow

If you are developing in the enterprise you do (or you should) a careful process analysis of those roles you are going to mobilize.  You study the workflow – the steps involved to produce that product or deliver that service…

Crude and Simple Workflow

Crude and Simple Workflow

I have seen a lack of rigour and structure among far too many mobile application developers. The App Store has not helped matters since now everyone wants to develop for that shiny object in the room.  A shiny, distracting object!

If we look at the consumer the same way we look at a field worker, a sales person or any other type of mobile worker I believe we would have better, more user-friendly and truly relevant mobile consumer applications.  You can’t really study someone’s life to the extent that you study a process … but you can certainly take the context and given situations, study and analyze those.  I could almost bet that the best consumer applications out there were either done by studying lifeflows or by folks with a deep understanding and first hand experience of how those flows go (because they lived them).

Lifeflow - Messy, incomplete and mine!

Crude ... but definitely not simple Lifeflow!

Even though I can write for hours about this subject I am not going to… Today I will drop this on you and if there is some interest out there in helping me explore some use cases then maybe we will continue this topic.   If not I will just take my little flow and go home.

(What I would really like to do is start a repository of Lifeflows so others can use these for development purposes… I know it is a stretch… anyone?)

Media Convergence and Mobility

Over at The Economist Media Covergence site you will find this neat little video announcing their Media Convergence Forum later this month (October 20-21, 2009 in NYC).  The video which, provided for you below, is about the pace of change…

The surge of new technologies and social media innovations in today’s environment is significantly altering the future media landscape for marketers. Consumer behaviour is changing and the way marketers reach their audience must also change. Marketers are searching for new ways to not only reach their customers, but to understand them, to peer inside their minds. As the level of consumer understanding increases, so can the knowledge of how best to reach them. However the plethora of tools at a marketers disposal is not easy to navigate and real learning comes from a real understanding of the future of media convergence.

What is amazing about this convergence (and of interest to us) is that much of it will happen on your mobile devices – smartphones, cell phones, iPods or whatever is portable enough to be with you and has the ability to connect you.  By virtue of it always being with you, the mobile phone is the most personal (dare I say intimate?) of devices.  Let us look at a few questions:

  1. How many of you have personal pictures on your mobile? (It holds your precious treasures)
  2. How many of you keep your personal appointments or reminders on your mobile? (Like a personal assistant)
  3. Is your mobile phone your alarm? (You go to bed and wake up with it)
  4. Does your mobile phone serve as your GPS? (Gives you directions – helps you get to where you need to go)
  5. Oh, and lest we forget … it is also our phone.  Giving us quick and easy access to anyone.

There are many uses and most importantly many personal uses.

And because you are busy, always running around either for work or for home the mobile device has grown in importance to you and continues to do so.  Marketers know this (and so does everyone else in the world) .  They want to interact with you as close to that moment of want as possible.  That moment when you see something and you want it! Or even better for them … they want to have a hand in creating that moment for you. Marketers, merchandisers and everyone else wants to interact with you as much as possible and wherever you find yourself. The mobile phone allows the message (whatever that may be) to reach you wherever you find yourself. For many of you … where they find your mobile phone they will most likely find you! That’s why media convergence is taking place at the mobile phone. Not because of the phone. But because of you.

More and more (and this is nothing new I realize that) you will see your brands with you at all times and you will see the competition for a share of you increase.  A share of your time, a share of your mind … which ultimately leads to a share of your heart.  When your heart is in it – that speaks of brand loyalty.

I could go on but since I feel little cheese in those last words let’s jump to the video now.  We will pick this up later (maybe).

I found the video at the Social Mobilist, a place where you will find some of my writings from time to time.

MyBlackBerry.com Launch

Last week’s big news for some was the leaked information about the new BlackBerry site (social networking huh?) called MyBlackBerry (at myblackberry.com). When a friend emailed the news to me I was actually somewhat surprised by it.  After reading the piece at Berry Review all I could do was scratch my head and wonder how this fits in the mobile and social spaces.

Since we are both mobile and social creatures this could appear to be a good thing.  What I am not convinced about is  RIM’s attempt of creating a separate social network for BlackBerry users.  To me, it almost goes against the notion of social…  You call people out from where they are (already engaged in their own social interactions of choice) and you ask them to join you and others where you want them to be.  I am of the opinion that you are social where you choose to be social not necessarily where you are told to be.

However, there is still a chance of this working as much as there is a chance of it not working.  People may very well choose to be social on MyBlackBerry – mostly because BlackBerry still has enough pull to attract users to this site.

But without yet looking at it (didn’t get an invitation and it doesn’t seem to accept common folk just yet) and with no inside knowledge at all at the moment it truly sounds more like a forum with a ‘social’ facade.  A spruced up version of their current forum.

Instead of asking people to come to their site to be social, engaging people where they already participate and are socially active is a better idea.

What about Enterprise Users?

This launch reminds me of the post I wrote a few days ago on the idea of a Personalized Mobile Enterprise Gateway.

I realize (or I think I do) that this is not aimed at Enterprise Mobile users and that it is aimed squarely at the consumer.  Enterprise users however, are consumers at the same time, so they may engage depending on their needs and issues (and level of fanaticism).

Twitter’s Mobile Strategy

Reading about Twitter’s new hire Kevin Thau (new Director of Mobile Business Development) reminds me that we still owe you several series previously mentioned here which you have not seen.  They are on their way (but  currently stuck as WIP somewhere between our brains and our keyboards).  Why am I bringing this up?  Well, one of those series has to do with mobile strategy (which after all is supposed to be one of the main topics of this blog) so of course the fact that Kevin will be “working on our mobile business strategy,” is a very positive step forward in this field.

Generally speaking mobile strategy is aimed in two directions:

  1. Externally – which mostly covers how you will present your company, brand, products and services to mobile phone users in their mobile context.   Unfortunately for most a mobile strategy only means having their website viewable from a smaller form factor.
  2. Internally – this involves equipping workers to be productive and efficient when mobile.  This type of mobile strategy among other things includes mobility policies, mobile end user segmentation (profiling), technology roadmaps and a few other things (more whenever that series comes out).

Due to Twitter’s size I doubt that this strategy has to do anything with assisting and equipping their internal users when mobile.  Twitter can’t ignore the mobile space and that’s why they are building a mobile strategy.  Twitter is already accessed and updated by mobile users.  Kevin’s position is externally facing and has to do with first type of mobile strategy as outlined above.  Although he will not specifically concern himself with mobile enterprise users you really can’t have a mobile strategy without impacting mobile workers.  So one way or another those that use or manage mobile technology in their day to day jobs will be impacted by Kevin’s work (to some extent).  At the very least we would expect some interesting partnerships to come out of Kevin’s work that may be a first attempt at incorporating Twitter into mobile processes.   Please note the use of the word attempt is on purpose.

In any event… congratulations Kevin!  Let us know how we can help!


    Mobile Advertising and Productivity

    How distracting will the ever increasing (or at least predicted) flood of mobile advertising affect our mobile workers?  I am not talking SMS here… I can probably count on one hand the number of times I was spammed.  I am talking during mobile web surfing?  Perhaps not that much of an issue now… but later?  Is the answer to whitelist a handful of sites necessary for the role and prohibit the rest?  This has enormous potential to be highly disruptive… another good reason for policies in the back end and written procedures (who hates manuals?) .

    Actually for that matter social networks (and the related tools and applications) can also distract and hinder productivity if not managed and monitored.

    Is this something to worry about now?  Could end users go back to using two devices if limitations are too tight?

    Note #1: I am purposely ‘backtracking” this post to a few experts in mobile advertising… all in the hopes they will post an opinion at their blogs or in the comments section here.  If none do, you will see this paragraph strangely disappear… :)   Bottom line is that the enterprise will protect its mobile worker productivity (or at least they should).

    Note #2: Regardless of responses (hopefully you will respond below) we will also review the EverySingleOneOfUs Communications Movement from a mobile enterprise and mobile worker perspective as soon as we get a chance… your comments and input are also appreciated in this analysis.

    Enterprise Mobility, Social Networks and the End of Email

    With this post we hope to launch a discussion here at the Mobile Strategy Blog on a topic we keep bumping up against directly or indirectly: social networking and enterprise mobility.

    We don’t completely agree with the idea that social networks (and the technologies/applications that make it possible) will soon invade and take over the enterprise.  There are too many risks at the moment (security, regulatory and privacy concerns to name a few) plus the cultural shift for most enterprise organizations would be too much to handle.  In fact the management of that change would probably be the biggest obstacle encountered during a shift of this magnitude.

    One of the arguments in favour of adopting social forms of communication in the enterprise is more an argument against email than anything else.  It is true, we can do a better job of managing our inbox and we can help our fellow enterprise beings by sending only what is necessary, when necessary and without being excessively wordy (like this post you are reading right now).  Like any other decision, before we jump in on this we need to see an argument in favour of social networking in the enterprise (and for our mobile users specifically) which shows us the value.  Much too often we hear all the fluffy, group-hug arguments… but we don’t see direct value creation and the proof we need to make informed and responsible buying decisions (i.e. ROI Analysis, TCO, etc).  To that end we have asked a few social media experts to join this conversation (folks from Yammer, SocialCast and Pownce to name a few… we consider twitter too much of a rock star at this point but we may approach @someone relatively soon).

    To get you started I wanted to point you to two interesting posts on living without email.  The first one is over at Dan’s Blog (2.0):

    Email as a medium is not keeping up with how we interact, how we do our jobs, how we live in the modern world. It’s overtaken by spam (encouraged by its nature as an open and free medium and the relatively little it costs to send out emails in bulk). It has no intrinsic trust mechanism (and developments like sender policy framework are basically a band-aid and do not address personal trust circles, only whether an email is from where it purports to come from). Email has no intrinsic semantics that allow email clients to do anything useful with them. Even advanced email clients can do little to help with this mess.

    Dan then goes to imagine a world without email and suggests some alternatives (which seem to involve too many hand offs between applications = loss of efficiency):

    Need to get in touch with a friend?  Use Twitter “direct message.” It’s much more difficult for you to be spammed, because you control who connects to you. Bonus: you have to be terse. Need a longer conversation? Use Skype or another IM solution. Need to send someone a file? Again – IM. More immediate and you KNOW the recipient has received it. How about you need to arrange a meeting or a drinks out?  Social networks provide all the mechanisms you need for this. Need to share a file with a large number of people?  Use a Web-based sharing service like Google Docs or Zoho and then alert them using one of the means above.

    The other one is at the IBM Blueprints Blog (Social Computing and New Media at IBM) and it includes a video of an IBM employee attempting to rid himself of the shackles of email.

    I have never felt bound by email because it is with me wherever I go… on my BlackBerry.  But let’s give this topic a chance and hear what others have to say about this.

    We would like to hear of anyone already implementing social networking in the enterprise and how you are extending it to your mobile users.

    Speaking of all this… the Mobile Strategy Blog is now giving twitter a shot.  Not sure what to expect ourselves and haven’t quite gotten into it but you can follow us @mstrat.