This week, Facebook formally announced their 500 millionth user. Recent studies show 150 million of those users are connecting through their mobile devices and that growth rate is staggering. Their goal, as announced at the World Economic Forum last fall, is to have more people accessing Facebook on their mobile device than through conventional computers.
That mobile device growth rate should be a wakeup call to every company without a mobile strategy that meets their user’s evolving needs.
Thirst is Nothing; Mobility is Everything
I beg to differ with the old ad campaign that Thirst is everything. If you thirst for sales, today you need to be where your customers are. JC Penney, according to a DM News article, is ramping up their mobile and social efforts for the “back to school” sales this fall.
JCPenney PR brand manager Kate Coultas is quoted in the article explaining that “Our mobile marketing initiatives allow us to reach teens where they are, and provide them an opportunity to opt in and experience an array of exciting, media-rich, interactive content that allows them to explore and discover the JCPenney brand.”
Kohl’s, Sears, and others are joining them, but to different extents.
A recent study from the non-profit Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that 40 percent of adults now access the Internet using a cell phone – up 32 percent from April, 2009. To put this into perspective, a 2006 study shows that 40 percent of Americans now read a newspaper. You can’t ignore either group of potential customers.
Reaching People Where They Sleep
In a time where 41 percent of all adults have a profile on a social media site and more than half of all Americans sleep with their cell phone (Pew Social Trends), reaching people where they sleep takes on a whole new meaning.
Social media, while growing most rapidly among the under 35 year-olds, is no means just being used in that age group. There are however people who will always prefer to talk to a nice warm human voice before handing over their money. There are also those who will first arm themselves with personal reviews of friends, acquaintances and total strangers and know their potential purchases better than most salespeople could. To ignore either group (or make age-based stereotypes) would be a mistake.
Facebook, if a country, would now rank third: larger than the United States and just behind China and India. Why would you even think of ignoring this type of population? Yet many are.
Like Twitter and other social networks, people value on Facebook what used to be valued in print: content that is fresh, updated, and pertinent. (Please re-read the last sentence until you have memorized it.) The new values gained from social sites are responses directly from companies and people who are seeking similar content. Those people are called a community.
The Opportunity to Leverage Influence
More than two-thirds of all users have some contact with a company on social sites. That puts a heavy burden on companies to listen to what is being asked of them and what is being said about them. More important, they now have a responsibility to respond with accurate information. Simply, those companies who are not willing to listen and react quickly to the comments and questions asked will drive customers away.
To put it another way, because top management won’t buy and invest into the value of crowds of online people and the ability to be where they are – the company will miss great opportunities.
Each one of your community members has the influence of many of their friends, virtual friends and other communities, online and in person.
Ask me sometime why I haven’t shopped in a particular store for a year or why I spend more for the same product elsewhere.