There are plenty of reasons to avoid buying a smart phone these days, chief among them the cost of not just the device itself but the monthly data plan charge to go along with it. However, just because you don’t have a smart phone doesn’t mean you can’t use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare while on the go. In this post I’ll show you how to get started with each of those services, and all you need is a texting plan!
Facebook already has a built-in feature called Mobile Texts that can be activated from your Account Settings section at Facebook.com. From this section you have a ton of control over what gets sent to your phone, including which of your friends updates will be texted to you and what times the service will be activated (for example, you could say only send updates between 8:00AM and 5:00PM). Alternatively, if you’re concerned about running up the number of texts Facebook is sending you in a day, you can even set a cap so that Facebook doesn’t overdo it. Facebook mobile texts will also allow you to update your own status, or post on your friends’ walls without an internet connection. But what about photo and video uploads?
Once you’ve setup mobile texts you’ll also want a way to add multimedia content to your Facebook page. In order to do that you can take advantage of the free email address Facebook provides with your account. To find out what your email address is, visit facebook.com/mobile – be sure to keep this email address to yourself as it’s specific to your profile or page! Once you’ve noted the address, just send MMS messages from your phone to the email address and your photos and videos will show up on your wall automatically.
Now you’re sharing content with your friends on Facebook, but wouldn’t you like to tell them about all of the cool places you’ve visited? Once again the power of SMS comes to your rescue if you don’t have internet access on your phone. To get started with Foursquare SMS check-ins just follow the 3 steps below:
It may not be as quick as checking in on a mobile app but it works just as well! You’ll get a rundown of the number of check-in points you’ve earned for checking into a location, you’ll see who the mayor is and also if any of your friends are at the location with you.
I saved the easiest service for last. Twitter was built from the beginning to be a service accessed with SMS. You know that 140 character limit? It turns out that’s just 20 characters less than the standard total of characters allowed in a single text message! Assuming you’ve already created an account at Twitter.com, getting your mobile phone ready to tweet is a breeze.
First off, you need to locate your country’s shortcode right here. If you’re in the United States the code is 40404. Text the word START to your shortcode, and you’ll be walked through the process of creating a new Twitter account or linking an account that you’ve already created. Once your account is linked you can update your Twitter status, keep track of old friends and even start following new ones all by texting your shortcode.
So there you have it – you don’t need to have the latest and greatest device to have fun using some of the coolest social media services on the web. If you have more questions about getting started with the services above with your feature phone please post a comment below and I’ll do my best to help you out!
Not long ago Josh wrote a post about the slow adoption of Twitter in the rural PA area. One of the big barriers to entry he noted was the lack of consistent high speed internet access. Many folks in our area of small town Pennsylvania are still using 56k connections or even satellite downlink connections where data access is limited or unavailable. This makes the user experience for services like Twitter annoyingly sluggish, and with limited 3G and non-existent 4G LTE mobile data coverage much of the fun of mobile services like Twitter is inaccessible to folks in the area.
There is good news for data-deprived regions of the country, however. The Internet Innovation Alliance is currently supporting the merger of T-Mobile and AT&T which will expand 4G LTE data access to 46.5 million Americans – an equivalent to the combined populations of New York and Texas. To give you an idea of how access would expand in our area of PA alone, take a look at the image below provided by MobilizeEverything.com.
As you can see PA would see a huge bump in data access. As someone who lives and dies by my phone’s data connection I’d love to see 4G LTE expand to our area. That said, this has huge implications for your small business as well.
The typical American consumer is becoming increasingly connected every day. More and more folks are buying smart phones and mobile tablet devices constantly. So what are we doing with all of our gizmos and gadgets? Talking to our friends on social networks and mobile services like Facebook, Foursquare and even the brand new Google Plus of course! It’s always been important for a small business to craft a strategy for their presence on social networks, but with further data proliferation in small-town America you can bet that the number of folks that will want to check in to your business or share their thoughts about your service with their friends will skyrocket.
There’s a reason this socially connected approach has already been such a success in larger metropolitan areas – it gives business owners a better chance now than ever to connect with their customers, respond to their feedback and provide a better customer experience! Best yet, if you embrace the onset of mobile customers your business stands a great chance to transition brand new consumers into happy customers.
Want to know more about why broadband is so important, especially to your rural community? Take a look at the infographic below, and be sure to take a look at the document detailing broadband’s effect on rural America. This information was provided by the Internet Innovation Alliance (IAA), and it further explains how taking advantage of high speed data now means huge growth potential for small communities and the businesses that support them down the road!
Last week Walmart, who needs no introduction, purchased a mobile-social commerce firm called Kosmix, further legitimizing the importance of both mobile and social media marketing.
Eduardo Castro-Wright, Walmart’s vice chairman said, “Social networking and mobile applications are increasingly becoming a part of our customers’ day-to-day lives globally, influencing how they think about shopping, both online and in retail stores. We are excited to have the Kosmix team join us to accelerate the development of our social and mobile commerce offerings.”
If you really take a look at the simplicity of the statement that Castro-Wright made, you see that Walmart is simply trying to accommodate their customers and be where they want them to be. This concept is certainly not a new one, and businesses have been doing it for years. I think that one of the issues small businesses have been facing is the lack of realization that the web is just as much of a “place” for their products and services as the storefronts that carry their products or the trade shows that are targeted to their industry.
The web, both mobile and desktop, is a place that consumers spend a great deal of time. Your presence and attention to it should reflect that. If they don’t your customers notice, and they will find providers that do provide the convenience of the web.
A Pew Internet study in January of 2011 found that 23% of Americans use a mobile device to interact with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. This number is conservative in my opinion. If you consider the volume of texting that happens from a mobile phone, it should not be much of a surprise that status updates, check-ins, and comments happen frequently as well.
The question then becomes, how does YOUR company address the need for a mobile experience that is heavily integrated with your social presence? First, you have to have at least some mobile-optimized pages on your site. Even if you just make a mobile version of your homepage and add some device detection so a mobile phone is automatically directed to a mobile version, you will be in better shape than serving your desktop site to a mobile device. I won’t get into the reasons here as we’ve covered them in the past.
Second, your business has to be involved with the major social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) in a committed way. Not just by posting random one liners a couple times a week. Rather, by commenting on applicable updates by others and including links to your site where acceptable. If the links are clicked on by a user on a smartphone, your link will ideally go to a mobile friendly page through device detection.
Third and last, you must have an ongoing plan in place to better your mobile experience and social involvement. It’s not going away, and it is much more fluid than a standard website. Get used to it and make the decision now to keep grinding. Comeback stories are not going to be as easy in this generation of the web. You need to move now, and we can help.
When we work with clients on mobile marketing initiatives, we often want to test adoption of various tactics such as SMS (text messaging). The problem we run into with many small businesses is that they don’t want to start investing in a large-scale SMS service until they know that they are going to have solid buy-in from the target market.
We all know that you can setup a Twitter account for free. You might not have known that you can also Follow a Twitter account without having your own twitter account through SMS. That’s right, non-twitter users and twitter users can receive all of your tweets via text message by Texting Follow [yourtwitterhandle] to 40404.
This means that you can run SMS campaigns through Twitter for free. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for. SMS services can provide you with better statistics on usage, etc… without all of the manual tracking that will need setup through Twitter.
In most SMS campaigns, a business doesn’t ask you to Text ‘something’ to 55555 in order to receive every bit of information that business releases. Keep that in mind when using twitter for an SMS campaign. To segment your lists, you really need to setup multiple twitter accounts. For example, our Twitter handle is protocol80. If we were doing a general protocol 80 SMS campaign, we might setup p80SMS. If we wanted to target Social Media folks, we might setup p80Social. Again, this allows you to separate campaigns and target different audiences.
When using Twitter for an SMS campaign or multiple SMS campaigns, it’s important to note that you will definitely have more to keep track of than if you use an SMS service. If budget is an issue, but you can make the time to track activity, click-throughs, and new followers, you will be plenty satisfied with Twitter.
Ultimately, Twitter makes a great first step into SMS marketing. If you’d like to chat about mobile marketing strategies, we’d be happy to spend some time with you. Give us a shout!
If you caught my post yesterday, you learned that I think Real Estate Agents’ websites can really use some work. Today, I want to go over what I consider to be some missed opportunities in the mobile realm of web marketing by realtors in rural areas.
Have you ever driven by a house that’s for sale and thought, “Man, I hope I remember to look that one up online…” or maybe, “I know someone that should check that house out.”? I have, even if I have no interest in buying the house.
The best time to capture a prospect or someone that could refer a prospect, is the moment they see the property. How could a realtor do that you might ask? We’ve all seen the signs out in front of a house that’s for sale. They typically show the name of the realtor’s company, the real estate agent, the MLS number, and a contact phone number.
What if there was a 2D Barcode on the sign that prospects could scan to:
This is especially true for Real Estate Agents. House hunters want the ability to go house hunting by pulling up a realtor’s mobile site on their smartphone or tablet and finding properties to drive by.
What’s different about a mobile website?
A mobile website is a slimmed down version of your full website that is designed to better-utilize the small screens on smartphones. A mobile website should also have content tailored to the mobile user’s needs. You can skip the company history and employee of the month pages. Only give the mobile user what they need and want. In real estate, they may want:
As I mentioned in my previous post, realtor’s websites should be powered by a content management system and/or a property management database. Both of these will allow you to generate content once and show it on your full desktop website, AND your mobile site. You post once, and the content/data shows on both sites.
In my upcoming posts, I plan to discuss how realtors can use several other areas of web marketing to boost their showings and sales including:
Living in a very rural area, we see many delays by small businesses and non-profits when it comes to web marketing. Users do adopt web platforms at a much faster rate than the rural businesses and non-profits. This means that rural users are forced to shop from and use services from businesses in larger markets or national corporations. This obviously hurts rural and local businesses.
One such example that I see time and again is real estate. If I had $1 for every time I drove by a real estate sign or viewed a realtor’s website and thought to myself, “If I were them, I’d be doing…. X, Y, Z…”, I would be sipping from an umbrella-strawed drink on a beach somewhere right now… I wish I was writing this from a beach .
This frustration inspired me to write this post on some low hanging fruit that Realtors in small markets should be using to better their marketing and likely reduce their ongoing costs.
We’ve written about the importance of having a professional-looking website in the past. The look of your site is equivalent to the look of your storefront or office. Online, the design of your site says a lot about the image and personality of your overall business and what a prospect should expect when/if they decided to reach out and contact you.
We all know a bad website when we see it. Don’t fool yourself because your relative maintains your site for you, or you maintain your own site with Frontpage (a big no-no, by the way). Be objective.
Look at your competition’s website and see how yours compares. Don’t look at content (yet), but rather look at aesthetics. How does your site “feel” compared to your competition. This is not the time for a lowest common denominator comparison. Who is the 800 lbs gorilla in your industry and your market area? If it’s already you, does your website reflect that relative to your competition?
Static HTML sites are a thing of the past. They leave too much room for layout and design errors/inconsistencies which ultimately makes your business look unprofessional.
A web content management system like our own c80 Content Management System, allows you to login to your website, and make changes to it right through the web browser from any computer with an Internet connection. There’s no need for software to be installed. Content management systems (CMS) tend to be much more user-friendly than using a web development application like Dreamweaver or Frontpage as well.
Another nice feature of c80 and many other content management systems is that pages can be setup so you never have to update the site’s navigation, look and feel, or structure. This saves some of the complexities associated with maintaining a static site. Templates also make entering commonly used formats, such as the basic listing for a new property much easier and consistent.
Like a CMS, a property database may be the most efficient way to manage a realtor’s properties from the realtor’s perspective and the user’s perspective. Think of a database like a big spreadsheet. Example:
As the manager of the website, the Realtor would not even see the database behind the scenes. They would work with web pages to manage the data in the database like the following:
There’s a common misconception that after you invest in a content management system or property database, you’ll keep paying for it year after year. That’s not the case at all. Most CMSs and Custom web applications are a one-time upfront fee with no ongoing costs. That is how our content management is setup and our development works.
Based on an average realtor’s commission on a $100,000-$200,000 property sale, they would break even after the first house is sold!
Check back soon for my upcoming posts including ‘How Realtors Should be Using Mobile Marketing’, many other web marketing tactics that rural realtors are missing out on.
Holy cow! We’re into our 6th post on mobile marketing for small businesses already! If you are terrified because you missed one or all of the first 5 posts, fear not, here’s a recap:
Today, I want to take a moment to analyze the mobile user and how they differ from the desktop user. To make this really super easy, think about how you use your smartphone to browse the web versus your computer.
I know that I use mine very differently. I tend to view social media info, click through to view blog posts that I see in tweets, lookup directions to places, look for restaurants, and look for local attractions. For the most part, these activities are done solely on my phone.
As I mentioned in my last post, it’s very frustrating to try to navigate all of the options of a full desktop site on your mobile device. That’s kind of vague though. I think it’s important to really think about what a mobile user is looking for.
Let’s start by making a list of what a mobile user doesn’t typically look for:
When it comes to mobile site content, make sure you are short and sweet, with read more options where appropriate. A mobile user doesn’t want to wade through a novel of text. Bullet points with optimized photos are best.
For example, it’s not really necessary to give each contact person’s full bio on the first contact page. Just show their name and contact details. If you really think that a mobile user might like to see the full bio, include a link to it.
Some mobile users will decide that they want all of the fluff. That’s fine. Provide a link to the full website for these users. They can then read as much fluff as they’d like. The footer of a mobile site is a great place to include this link. See our site for an example.
So your small business has decided to invest in a mobile app of some sort. You know that it’s important to be accessible to your potential customers and since they’re all looking at their smartphones most of the time, even when they probably shouldn’t be, it’s about time you create a mobile experience that will be finger friendly and give them access to relevant information about your product or service quickly and easily.
You might have heard about some of the popular app platforms – things like the iPhone OS (now truncated to simply iOS due to the software being used to power other devices, like the iPod Touch and iPad) and Android OS which powers phones and devices that use the Google mobile operating system. There’s even a THIRD option, which is to create a mobile web application using HTML 5 that will run inside the device’s native web browser. What is the difference between these different kinds of apps, and which should you focus on? Let’s chat about it!
Most people in the application development and technology industry associate the birth of the “app,” a program that runs on your phone that you typically download from an app store, with the launch of the iPhone in 2007. Although Apple (makers of the iPhone and other iOS devices) were the first company to support modern smartphone apps in a major way, the device didn’t actually go to market with an app store available at all. In fact, Apple’s original intention was for developers to create applications for the iPhone using web apps – applications that will run inside the device’s web browser much like your webmail client does in Internet Explorer on your desktop computer. At the time web technologies were bustling and many app experiences we think of today could be replicated in the phone’s web browser, so what was the point in reinventing the wheel and creating a native iOS-specific app framework for developers to use when they could create web apps out of the box?
In the end Apple ended up catering to their loyal fanbase’s requests by creating tools that developers could use to make native applications for the iPhone, and they subsequently unveiled the Apple App Store that iPhone users could visit to download and install these apps on their devices. The App Store became hugely popular, and Apple’s competition in the mobile device market (RIM’s BlackBerry and Google’s Android) followed suit with their own software development kits and app stores. So what ever happened to HTML 5 web apps, and how are they different from these other “native” applications that I’m talking about?
Essentially, the difference between a native application and an HTML5 application on your phone is that the native application is standalone (think Microsoft Word in Windows) where-as the HTML 5 application runs in a web browser, like a website. Each platform has its own pros and cons, but to my mind the biggest of them is that HTML 5 applications will run on any smartphone with a modern web browser, but developing a native software application limits you to one device specifically.
For example, taking the scenario in the opening paragraph of this blog post: a small business decides it needs to have a mobile application. One of the very first questions they’ll ask themselves is what platform should they invest in. Should their app be in Apple’s app store first, or in the Android Marketplace first? What about BlackBerry? Since all of these phones have different software development kits you can’t simply make an iPhone app and have it run on an Android or BlackBerry phone. In all cases the app will have to be “rewritten” for each device you want to support.
That’s where mobile web applications with HTML 5 come in. Because web apps run inside of a web browser, and because all modern smartphones have web browsers capable of displaying advanced web apps, you can focus on creating one mobile app that will be available whether a person is using an iPhone, Android phone or BlackBerry phone. Not only that but your app will be supported on larger tablet-style devices, because again, as long as the device has a web browser your customer will be able to access your mobile app if it’s developed with HTML 5.
Okay so you might be wondering what the catch is. If someone can focus on creating a mobile web app, why spend the extra time and money to creative native applications for each kind of device? Do the mobile web applications look or perform worse than native apps? Here’s what I want you to try. If you have a smart phone, be sure to download and install the native Facebook app for whatever phone you have. Whether it’s iPhone, Android or BlackBerry – go ahead and install the Facebook app for your device. Got it? Good. Spend some time using the Facebook app and make a note of what it looks like and how information is displayed to you. Tap through to your news feed and check up on some of your friends, and try to make a mental note of what the app looks like.
Alright, now load your phone’s web browser and enter touch.facebook.com into the address bar (typically entering just facebook.com will redirect to the mobile version of their site, but enter touch.facebook.com just to be sure). Does it look familiar? It should! The mobile version of Facebook’s website renders nearly identically to the native Facebook app. You have access to the same information and the same functionality, but it might be displayed slightly differently (this has more to do with the quirks of the various “native” app technologies than the web technologies used to develop the web app).
So if web apps can be this powerful by using HTML 5, AND you only have to develop them once to support all modern smart devices, why do people bother with native applications at all? First off, I think one big reason is that apps are “sexy.” Just like the phrase social networking is a buzz term in marketing nowadays, having an app is similarly popular. However, I guarantee you this – nearly every business or corporation that has an iPhone or Android app has already developed a great mobile version of their website for people to browse to.
There’s also the perception of discoverability. People already know about the app store on their phone, so if they want to find a way to access Facebook or Twitter on the go they’ll probably visit the app store and search for them there. I think this is more of an issue with marketing strategies though. If my small business is developing a mobile interface for my customers to interact with me, it’s my responsibility to make it be known that they have certain opportunities available to them. Are people going to go search for a protocol 80 app on the iPhone app store? Probably not, but if we’re holding a seminar and plug our mobile site, will the folks in the room visit it? Probably, especially considering that 9 times out of 10 the only device they have with them that’s capable of retrieving information is their mobile phone.
It isn’t only on your Android device anymore. If you are an Android lover like myself, you probably heard about the Androd 3.0 event today. One of the big takeaways for me was the announcement of a web version of the Android Market, the Android Market Web Store.
You might be saying, so what, I can just access all that stuff from my phone/tablet. If you’ll read along, I’d like to give you my take on the announcement.
If this is not a step up in the convenience factor I don’t know what is. How quickly can you look through a large portion of apps and read reviews on a small mobile screen? My guess is probably not as quickly as you could from a full size monitor. My favorite feature is that when you sign in to the Android market online and make a purchase or install and app, it will automatically install it on your mobile device.
How many times have you left a review about an application, whether it’s an Android app or not, from your mobile device. I will tell you that I never have, but would be much more likely to review an application more in depth from a regular keyboard than my touch screen. Most applications that I decide to get are because it is highly rated and got at least some good reviews.
The functionality of the online version will far succeed the functionality from the mobile device, at least I expect it to. For example, they announced improved functionality when an application is for sale in a different currency. No more guessing how much it will be in USD…they will automatically show you. This feature probably could have happened whether the market went online or not, but maybe it was a push.
While I don’t think I would opt for the online version from my phone, I definitely would from a tablet. A larger screen and speed make the online version a snap for a more powerful device. Side note for future blog post, what will happen to the Chrome OS when Android takes off on tablets? Will you see yourself accessing the Android market from your netbook…right now I can only guess.
The online version of the market definitely has some upsides…all of which I didn’t mention here, these are just my favorite benefits. This was a good move for Google. I think it will increase the volume of both paid and free downloads and make the developers of these applications happy…when the developers are happy, the Android users will be happy. In the end this will help Android devices continue to compete with the iPhone. Do you have any reasons why you like the online version of the Android Market?
Welcome back for the 5th post in my series on using mobile for marketing as a small business! Check out my previous posts in the series:
If you recall, the video in my last post (also to the right) looked at Nike.com and ShultsAuto.com on an iPad and a smartphone to see how each handled showing the appropriate experience to each device.
Nike had an iPad specific version of their that took advantage of the capabilities the device, as well as a tailored smartphone version. Shults Auto Group on the other hand had one mobile version that both sites used. Which methodology was correct? In theory, the Nike methodology was more correct. In terms of small business budgets, Shults was more realistic.
Shults Auto Group’s mobile site was used for the iPad and smartphone viewers which is definitely more budget-friendly than having 2 additional versions of the site to accompany the full desktop version. Obviously, Nike has an enormous budget and can financially support dedicated versions of their site. Small Businesses like us are not so fortunate!
We will always recommend having one mobile site that supports both platforms to save money. In fact, your full desktop site may work fine on the iPad already. One thing Shults missed was the option to view the full desktop version instead of the mobile version. On the iPad I would have rather viewed their desktop version.
If you are lucky, you are already setup with a content management system like c80, which allows you to write content once and publish it to both the desktop and mobile sites. This way you aren’t doing double work when new content needs added to both sites, or content needs changed on both sites.
There are certainly cases where the content on each would be different though, so don’t feel like they can’t have variations. An example would be the contact page. For a mobile user, you may want to calculate their location and show them the nearest location to them. You may also want to show them a different language.
Have you ever tried working with a complicated website on the tiny screen of your smartphone, only to give up and move to your desktop? I sure have! Often times, a mobile user simply can’t work with a crowded user interface commonly found on full websites.
Like the Nike example showed, you should limit each screen’s number of options so that the user has very few choices and can filter down to the content or functionality they are after. It may seem like more steps, and it really is, but it’s much simpler for a mobile user to navigate.
iPads and most smartphones are touch devices. They are meant to be pushed and prodded, etc… If your navigation is listed in a tight list, it’s VERY easy to accidentally push the wrong link. The Shults Auto Group had this problem as you can see to the left.
A Blackberry user with a touchpad or scroll ball would have no problem navigating that list. Unfortunately, (or fortunately depending on what you like) most phones these days are not equipped with these devices. They are meant for fingers.
Knowing that most devices are meant for touch, it’s important to make all of your links large enough for fingers to select them. This is really a simple thing to do. The lists on the Shults Auto mobile site and the Nike store site are very tight and hard to select. In reality, they are both just lazy designing mistakes. Both are easy to fix, and hopefully they will.
With Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), both sites will could be fixed very quickly.
As I mentioned in my last post, Nike certainly has a better mobile experience than Shults Auto, but they monumentally screwed up the mobile purchasing process. How? They send the user to the Nike Store website which is not mobile friendly. Even worse, they don’t even send you to the product you were looking at on the mobile site. They send you to the homepage of the store.
This is unbelievably frustrating for a mobile user. Especially when you are about to shell out $160.00 for shoes. If I had to guess, this was simply a lack of communication between web teams at Nike. Nonetheless, if you are going to screw up a part of the process, DON’T let it be the part where the prospect turns into a customer!
I doubt it will be long before Nike catches this issue, but I do have it on video in my previous post for your review!
It’s important to remember that the same users are probably looking at your desktop site and your mobile site. Delivering a completely different message or set of options (as seen above) in each is a bad idea. You’ll also want to make sure that if you are featuring a product or service on your desktop site, you feature the same set of products and services on the mobile site. That is, unless the folks viewing each experience have been positively identified as completely different target audiences. In the case of most small businesses, this won’t be the scenario.
Looking back at the examples I used in my last post, when I viewed the mobile version of the Shults Auto Group site I found that I could view many more pre-owned makes than I could on the desktop site. In fact, one of the vehicles on the mobile site interested me, so I was discouraged when I went to the full desktop site on my computer later that day and couldn’t find the pre-owned category or the make that I was viewing on the mobile site.
On the other hand, Nike featured the same basketball shoes on the iPad, smartphone, and desktop experience. They did this part perfectly.
In future posts, I will touch on some other considerations when you are planning your mobile strategy! Check back or subscribe to our RSS feed to get the newest posts delivered right to you! If you aren’t into the RSS thing, you can “Like” us on Facebook or Follow Us on Twitter. Heck, do all three and never miss a post!
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