SoLoMo has been a catch-phrase for more than a year now, yet few marketers know how the convergence of social, local, and mobile can benefit their advertising efforts, and even fewer know how to implement it. One thing that advertisers do know is that they're one step behind consumers who are already living in a SoLoMo world -- they're working, buying, and informing themselves digitally.
Doug Weaver, founder and CEO of Upstream Group, moderated this morning's keynote panel at the iMedia May Agency Summit in Colorado Springs, Colo. During the panel, Weaver posed several SoLoMo-centric hypotheses to the representatives of four major brands. Here's their approach to this emergent phenomenon.
Hypothesis: The narrow rigid focus on attribution and immediate direct response metrics threatens to stifle innovation and creative thinking in social, local, and mobile. It's time to get off the "testing treadmill" and act boldly and decisively.
Cathleen Ryan, group manager of social, local, and mobile for Intuit said, "The caveat to this is that doing for the sake of doing is not going to be successful...unfortunately, we are beholden to traditional digital media," she said. Ryan believes that "the best tools we have from digital are arguably not that great." Thus, bringing those tools forward into the new frontier is counterproductive.
Barbara Williams, global emerging digital and SEM lead for Xbox at Microsoft, agreed that it is time to get off the "testing treadmill." When developing a digital marketing plan, Williams asks, "What's our framework? Did this work [in the past]? How well did this work? Quite often, we just boil it down to a couple of metrics that don't really tell the whole story."
Conversely, when the metrics do tell the whole story, marketers must be ready to act. "We need to act boldly and decisively," Williams said. "You must be discreet, have precise methodology, and you must act quickly because in six months those results may mean nothing"
Indeed, testing is not a strategy -- although many marketers use it as such. How does one use testing not as a crutch, but as an actual measurement of what works and what doesn't?
"You must use tests to prove or disprove your hypothesis," Ryan said.
Jennifer Wainwright, channel marketing manager for Ashland Valvoline, said, "I'm amazed how much we learn [from testing our hypotheses]...and how often our hypotheses are more wrong than right."
Hypothesis: Today's conversation begins -- and sometimes ends -- with Facebook, but it won't stay like that for very long. There is room for many more players to innovate and create social value -- Facebook is just the base.
"A lot of us think of Facebook last as a social outlet," Williams said. While it's true that there are many more social outlets available such as blogs, social games, and email, it's important to remember that folks who do not have a background in the digital space might consider Facebook the be-all, end-all in social. Facebook is going to inevitably end up on the list because, when it comes to the consumer side, "the senior manager is the one who has to fund this...[and you] need to include Facebook because they've heard of it," Williams said.
The next wave of Facebook users is another thing to carefully consider. Lisa Bari, director of digital marketing at Virgin America, often turns to social not just for promotion, but for customer service. However, Bari notes that it's important to remember that there are a billion people on Facebook. "Where's the next billion? Their average family income probably won't be as high as the first billion," Bari said.
Hypothesis: The current approach to mobile strategy is little more than a hangover from display. Most marketers and agencies are struggling to even define a vision for mobile. We're barely even asking the right questions yet.
"How do we mobilize our real strategy?" This is the question that brands and marketers truly need to ponder.
When looking at her company's strategy, Williams first looks at all the tactics that comprise the mobile landscape -- SMS, local, social -- then she turns to old-fashioned marketing."[We look into] which tactics fit the model and what are our consumers using," Williams said. For her, it's all about integration and viewing things holistically.
Hypothesis: Most agencies and sellers focus too much on helping us spend existing budgets on SoLoMo, and not enough on helping us grow those budgets. If you're challenged by budget constraints, you're probably not deep enough in the organization or strategic enough in your thinking.
"[We need agencies] to help us see what we can't see in our organization," Wainwright said. "There is always a budget for what looks like a successful opportunity. Show me what works, and I will find the money."
Jennifer Marlo is associate editor at iMedia Connection.
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