“We lived in farms, then we lived in cities, and now we're gonna live on the Internet!” – Sean Parker, The Social Network

It took a very short period of time for the Internet revolution to swallow the world whole. Can you believe that Wikipedia was founded in 2001, Facebook in 2004 and Twitter only in 2006? Today, the average Facebook user has 130 friends, and the average Twitter user follows 350 people and has 346 followers. Their Chinese counterparts Renren and Kaixin001 have 200 million and 75 million users respectively. Publications by users are seen by their friends and friends’ friends, depending on their privacy settings. Imagine how many people a single person’s post is capable of reaching.

As people’s lives become increasingly tied to their online identities, it’s become imperative for them to have access to those identities at all times. Close to three quarters of the planet is currently mobile. The always on, always available nature of the mobile device therefore makes it the ideal medium for people to stay in touch with their online communities. The combination of the social and mobile media has led to people now spending more than half their day consuming media.

Social networking via mobile browsers was up 90% toward the end of 2010. The two technologies have converged to create the new mobile social media. For marketers, this is the media that gives them fast, targeted and ongoing interaction with their customers. In the medium term, it will be one of the biggest media for marketing communications. It will be imperative for brands to ensure that their marketing messages are sparking, continuing or adding value to conversations happening across the digital universe. 

Businesses today have more ways to reach more markets than they ever could before. It would be foolish not to leverage this medium as it continues to change our social and professional lives. It’s easy to get started. The key is to employ a few easy methods to ensure that your digital campaigns fully explore the potential of social and mobile elements.

The basics: Mobile friendly websites and cross-integration

Any digital content should be accessible by all mainstream mobile devices. Since the appeal of mobile is that it helps you make decisions anytime, anywhere, it is essential that your digital content can be accessed by consumers anytime, anywhere. Marketers also need to ensure that the content is not only accessible via mobiles, but accessible in the right format. Mobile screens are smaller and require marketers to ensure compatible prioritization of content.

Additionally, cross-integration is the key to successful digital campaigns. We’ve seen numerous examples of microsites being cross-integrated with mobile, Facebook, Twitter and the like. These are small steps that can completely revamp your marketing campaigns and breathe new life into them.

Promotional gimmicks:

In April 2010, Jimmy Choo launched the @CatchAChoo trainer hunt on London’s streets. The treasure hunt campaign incorporated social media outlets by posting hints about the whereabouts of Jimmy Choo trainers on Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter. Contestants obtained instant location updates by accessing the social sites on their mobiles and the first person to locate the shoes got to keep them.

There are several such campaigns that have made a huge impact on consumers and go a long way in improving consumer involvement with the brand and building loyalty. Reward your brand’s social network via mobile coupons or offer product previews via mobile with a link to your social pages.

Social media brings tremendous value to the mobile marketing mix, whether it’s getting closer to customers no matter where they are, communicating with them on a social level, or releasing information. With purchases of goods and services via mobile devices expected to reach $200 billion by 2012, the linking of mobile marketing and social media is a marriage made in heaven. A whole region of uncharted possibilities awaits the exploration of marketers.

By Rohit Dadwal, Managing Director, Mobile Marketing Association Asia Pacific Limited