December 11, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Mobile Devices: The New Gum?

Mobile Devices: The New Gum?

Many people chew gum instead of fidgeting; some even think chewing gum helps them focus better. Many people fidget because they can’t get exposed to ideas and thoughts as fast as their brain wants. The new “gum” to stop fidgeting may be accessing content on mobile devices. What marketing possibilities exist to reach this growing market?

I submit for your consideration the line at your morning coffee shop. As the line of caffeine-deprived patrons swings around the theatre-style barriers, phones are out. People are texting, checking news, stocks, e-mail, sports and using social networks. Their brains are in gear.

Observing these technology-armed individuals in various locations at different times reveal several truths. They are comprised of all ages: 16-65+. They almost always put their devices away when they become next in line, and reading e-mail and texting is a lot better than hearing them yell on a phone call.

More people want to be connected and ARE more connected then ever before.

Although it sounds low, 62% of employed adults use the Internet or email at work. Almost half of the work force regularly does some work from home. Many stay connected 24/7 with cell phones and Blackberries. These results are part of a study of networked workers by the PEW Internet and American Life Project. It also shows that 35% of employed respondents are now using social networking sites.

Social networking sites, or social media, are growing rapidly. AdWeek cited a Forrester Research report that 75% of all Internet users take part in some type of social network – a 19% increase in one year. This is a clear signal that social networks are now mainstream.

I believe that the advancements coming in mobile devices paired with the explosion in social media will have a major impact on how and why people purchase items. It will extend what we call “communities.” Also changing will be how, where, and when people get news and information. By the year 2012, social media will be as significant a chasm for some to jump as the people who were left behind during the advent of computers into the workplace.

When e-mail was arriving in the workplace, it was normal to prohibit e-mails between companies. There was a fear that secrets will fly out the door. Today, social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are blocked by a decreasing number of businesses as “recreational”. This evolution mirrors the knowledge curve that tempered e-mail policies.

The desire to be connected crosses ages, backgrounds, geographies and abilities

Industry analyst Gartner’s so called “Generation Virtual” wants to be very connected. We’re connected to work, family and friends with nearly endless information. News, sports, and of course information that help us be more productive at work are at our fingertips. This is arguably the best thing since chewing gum.

This week alone, I received updates from three conferences I couldn’t make. I was able to follow the high points of each speaker’s presentation, and see video when I got home. With commentary from my Twitter “friends,” I had their insights as well. This positively affected my recommendations at work and gave me new ideas how to better weather the economic turbulence.

How do you reach these “Generation Virtuals”? How do you reach these ultra-connected people through marketing? This was all new a few years ago. College courses evolve to match the changing virtual landscape. There are a number of people, likely thousands in many virtual communities—myself included—sharing what we learn. We share within the confines of being responsible to our respective companies.

The answer may not be pay-per-click ads alone, but rather engaging within social media avenues where your customers may already exist. Engaging means a conversation, not an ad. It means listening and talking, not making a sales pitch whenever you can. It means relinquishing control of every word about the company and being more responsive to your customers’ needs. And truth be told, this is new, scary and exciting at the same time.

Using social media, Comcast has received some great new ideas from customers, and Southwest Airlines get praise for a good flight crew. At previous companies, I’ve helped cut support costs by millions with ideas from our community of customers. I’ve seen other companies get complained to (not about, but TO). Those companies took the matter off-line and resolved the issues.

Think about this: If you knew you could reach the CEO or Marketing Vice President – or Customer Service Vice President of a company, would you be more likely to do business with that company?

This is the best thing since chewing gum. And for the record, modern chewing gum was invented in 1848. Sliced bread didn’t come around until 1928.

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