As a speaker and attendee at the Federated Media Conversational Marketing Summit, I had the opportunity to learn more about innovative social platforms like Foursquare and StickyBits, as well as to hear how companies are using new technologies like these to engage with their customers.
The theme was “marketing in real time,” and while many of the marketers who spoke came from larger companies, the insights they shared may be valid for all businesses. Customers are spending more time with digital media than traditional media these days, and they have increasing expectations for real-time communication with brands. As Federated Media’s CEO John Battelle said at the start of the Summit, we are in the midst of a rapid shift to real time, local, and mobile marketing. Regardless of size, successful brands will be those that embrace this shift and engage with their customers.
Part of the challenge, of course, is to understand the technology trends and how they may affect your business. So I want to share with you some key trends discussed at the Summit, along with links to articles that can offer additional insights.
1. Mobile marketing. With the proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices, customers are finding and exchanging information in more channels than before. For business owners, this can mean a range of considerations, from, at a minimum, taking a look at how you can optimize your website for mobile, to how to use existing mobile messaging platforms or develop your own application.
2. Location-based marketing. With the rise in mobile marketing, there is also an increase in demand for recognition based on location. Through technology, customers can share where they shop, eat, and other activities – and brands can reward their loyalty. It’s a trend that seems to even the playing field some, offering smaller, local businesses like restaurants and retail stores the opportunity to recognize regular customers and offer special promotions. “How to Make Your Small Business Geolocation-Ready” offers a helpful overview.
3. Social marketing. While not new, this is still very much an evolving trend, moving from an expectation of engagement to one of recognition, as well. Some larger brands at the Summit discussed creating and customizing content according to customer geography and interests. This is likely more than what smaller businesses can achieve, however, there are other ways to reward customers, such as through tools like Foursquare. (Find more information in “Foursquare for Business: Is There a Real Opportunity?”)
4. Connecting online with offline. While some sites connect social networking with your physical location, Stickybits connects social networking to physical objects. Using a smartphone scanner, the Stickybits app, and unique barcodes that you can download and print, you can attach content to an object that the next person who then scans the barcode can see.
While these new technologies may seem very interesting, they may not all be appropriate for your business. I encourage you to evaluate them against your marketing goals and resources before jumping in. If you do start using them – or already are – please share your experiences with me at maryann @ openforum.com. I’m sure other OPEN Forum readers would like to hear your story.