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Be social, local and mobile and customers will find you

Apple recently announced its newest software products which includes a mapping and navigation service that will replace Google Maps as the default on its iPhones and iPads. The result of a long negotiated deal with Google’s rival Facebook, the new local search service will feature a voice activated virtual assistant called Siri.

But it’s not just industry giants like Google and Apple that are locked head to head in a fight to own more customers as the internet moves from your desktop to your pocket – it’s a new phase that will impact on all businesses looking to make their mark in the digital world.

SoLoMo – sounding a little like the traditional greeting you might expect from the inhabitants of a tropical island is the latest ‘buzz word’ from the virtual world. In real-world translation – “SoLoMo” is an amalgam for social, local and mobile. SoLoMo combines the best of both the virtual, digital and real worlds to deliver an experience that’s as natural to do on a mobile device as it would be in real life finally bridging the gap between user and the web.

The web offers a great resource with around 7.51 billion indexed pages as of June 2012 and 32.7 percent of the world population connected – a growth of over 500 percent since the year 2000 – but what if you just want as many of us do to find something locally? That’s where SoLoMo comes in basically allowing people to interact (social), find (local) and access (mobile) your brand easily.

For retailers the real advantage of SoLoMo is being able to customise content, coupons and offers for individual customers – based on either their previous shopping history or by way of their likes or shares on social networks. Statistics show that 80 percent of mobile users prefer local-based ads and 75 percent say they are more likely to take action after seeing a relevant local ad.

Some of the best examples of SoLoMo in action include Foursquare and Groupon – platforms that use social marketing and mobile check-ins as a way to drive business to locally based merchants. New comer app, Highlight also embraces the essence of SoLoMo operating in the background of your phone as a social utility that helps you learn more about the people in your immediate vicinity. Linked to a user’s Facebook profile the app works in the background to track names, photos and anything else your network chooses to share to notify you visually when friends and other interesting people are nearby.

Furthermore, Google has ramped up efforts to attract local businesses with its launch of Google+ where it hopes consumers will use their internet-connected phones like a digital wallet – earning loyalty points and making payments with businesses that sign up for Google’s new services.

So does your company speak SoLoMo? If not, here’s how …

Firstly, ‘So’ or Social 

You need to identify and then cerate the social media channels that are the best fit for your business with the must haves being LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. Traffic to your website can be easily generated via social media networks and improved rankings on search engines achieved based on your brand’s activity across this medium.

Ensure a consistent branding message across all your social media channels and one that accurately reflects your corporate image then integrate your social media profiles into your website, company culture and other online and offline marketing materials.

Integrate Quick Response or ‘QR’ codes into your traditional marketing – from business cards to brochures to vehicle signage – this is a huge opportunity to connect your digital online, social and mobile platform with your offline world.

Secondly, ‘Lo’ or Local

This is all about claiming your stake on the web. Your website is your real estate on the net so use it to maximum advantage. Make sure your content is on brand, your site is social media and search engine friendly with relevant keywords, you are included in any relevant localised or industry specific directories and you engage in targeted online campaigns like Google AdWords so as to generate both search engine related traffic and referral traffic.

Finally, ‘Mo’ or Mobile 

Morgan Stanley analyst, Mary Meeker says, “The world is currently in the midst of the fifth major technology cycle of the past half a century. The previous four were the mainframe era of the 1950s and 60s, the mini-computer era of the 1970s and the desktop Internet era of the 80s. The current cycle is the era of the mobile Internet and within the next five years more users will connect to the internet over mobile devices than desktop PCs.”

Interestingly enough, people seem to prefer to surf the net via a mobile connected device nowadays with some 60 percent choosing to make a purchase through their phone from their home. First and foremost your website should be smartphone and tablet friendly so that mobile users have the same if not more interactive experience as traditional desktop users. Online marketing has been revolutionised by these hand held devices so your site should also encourage interactivity via GEO tagging, Facebook places, Foursquare and Google+. Use Instagram (an iPhone based photo sharing app) and Twitter to share document news, events and other happenings about your business via mobile.

Many businesses are now exploring a new world of marketing called ‘Gamification’ to attract especially the under 25 market by using mobile phone apps. Apple earlier this year estimated its 500,000 apps had received over 25 billion downloads via their App Store.

Cisco IBSG predicts the number of internet-connected things will reach 50 billion by 2020, which equates to more than six devices for every person on Earth and there are expected to be over 200 million smart phones in Australia and Asia-Pacific by 2016 with 98 percent of users having Facebook accounts. “SoLoMo” is vital for any business brand to continue to engage with its customers, stay relevant in an ever changing digital market space and own its place in the minds of the new consumer.

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Tony Eades

Tony Eades

Tony Eades is the creative director of the BrandManager, a creative, marketing and communications agency based in Sydney and Perth. He is a business branding expert with more than 20 years experience in design, marketing, advertising and media production.

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