I have created the one word to sum up the interactive portion of the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival and conference: MoGeoSoLo: Mobile, Geolocation, Social, and Local. It may sound like it was the song cut from “The Sound of Music,” but this should be the rock of your future business plan, to rock your business.
“SXSW, first and foremost is about the people. It’s filled with unbelievable people with creative ideas and passion about what they’re doing,” according to Microsoft Researcher and Harvard Fello Danah Boyd. She was spot-on: The people at this conference can’t tell you what they do for work in one sentence: They are thinkers and doers who live complex lives.
Besides, who else could choose which sessions to attend from the roughly 900 scheduled during the five day event?
Remember When Mobile Had Something To Do With Cars?
According to Francesco Rovetta, director of business development for PayPal Mobile, the hypergrowth in smart phones is about to cause an explosion in m-commerce, or mobile commerce. Once, buying a ringtone was all you could do on your phone. Now, you can just choose the stat you like best to see what’s coming:
eBay sells a product to a mobile user every two seconds. There are 750,000 unique mobile visits to eBay mobile every day. Many web sites are growing mobile usage at as much as 20 percent every month or two – and don’t know it.
According to Rovetta, people purchase differently on a mobile device: with a limited attention span and with urgency. There is no “entry point” to your mobile web site, so the design needs to be different to reflect the behavior of your user.
Facebook representatives say mobile users share 20 percent more content than non-mobile users, and that means more usage. The goal for everyone is more mobile; less everything else.
“I think touch is the one big thing over the last couple of years… that really changed the equation,” according to Michael Sharon of Facebook. He also suggests that the personal size of a phone carries an intimacy. (If you’ve ever had to lend your phone to someone, you get this right away). He pointed to the limitation of just using your fingers on the phone. Movements and other gestures can create a new range on options on phones.
He’s right: While the iPhone uses a few shake motions and there is so much room for growth.
More people want to share their content from their mobile device and do it quickly – and get others to interact with it. They want to learn daily, they want to buy securely, they want to interact with others and the definitely want to navigate content easily. And all those needs are growing daily.
Geolocation: Creating Ad Hoc and Embracing Existing Communities.
Geolocation leverages the GPS abilities in your phone. If you opt in for location, you can say what you are doing and exactly where. I don’t mean “in New York City.” I mean on the curb of the northeast corner of 7th and 34thstreets. Most popular social sites support this feature. For Mapquest’s new offering, “It’s the ability to build a ‘location awareness’ into Facebook postings so that you can show where pictures were taken, or where you happen to be for your vacation and tying into a map,” according to David Cole with the Platform Group at Mapquest. They are far from being the only ones. Google has been at it for a while, and doing a good job.
SXSW attendees used Foursquare and the newer Gowalla to check where the good sessions (and parties) were. Not only can you check in with these mobile applications, but you can locate where your “friends” are. Do these people always use geolocation features? No. But if you’re at an event, it is a plus.
This is a different type of local outreach.
Aaron De Lucia Senior Vice President of Porter Novelli sees geolocation as a way of monitoring and building customer loyalty.
“If I know a person has checked in [on their mobile device using] in Nordstrom’s five times in the last week, that is a person they need to build that customer loyalty with.” The key is to take actions to ensure you retain that customer. On the other hand, what if a customer switches coffee shops and the company stops seeing the ‘check ins’? “They can go out and say ‘we want that customer back.’ It really gives them insights that’s in a public venue that they never had before… They can say we want the customer back, [and decide] what do we have to do to get them back.”
There is a lot of trial and error about to happen here, so I hope they remember to be social.
Going Social Means Being Authentic
If one person came to represent most everyone’s sentiment, that was Gary Vanderchuk. The author of “Crush It” came from less than modest means to build a multimillion-dollar wine business on Twitter. He had one key message: Be authentic.
He also had two caveats: “If you’re not recognizing social trends that are going on, you’re going to be missing out.” The other was to businesses who try to scale everything: “You can’t scale authenticity.”
With regard to selling, “Everyone is trying to be a 19-year-old dude. Everyone is trying to close too fast. Give it a little time. It’s so amazing what a soft sell can do.” [More quotes].
Authenticity and trust are indeed the building blocks of relationships, and social media relationships are no different.
Privacy Isn’t What You Think
This seems like we’re giving up a lot of privacy. But Danah Boyd really did explain it in her keynote, and where our responsibility lies:
“Privacy is not dead. People very much care about privacy regardless of how old they are. The challenge is what privacy means may not be what you think. Fundamentally, privacy is having control of how information flows. It’s about being able to understand a social setting, understand the context, and understand what is appropriate. It’s about understanding about what the [technical] architecture will allow you to do.”
Now we must learn.