I'm often asked to predict where technology - particularly the Internet - is going next. My knee-jerk response is "if I had a crystal ball, I'd be rich." I was caught off guard in the 90s when my "secret little hobby" of going online was forever changed by the Web and became not just the basis of my first business, Cybergrrl, Inc., but also a transformative communications platform for our work and our lives. It took about five years - from 1995 to 2000 - for the Web to "take hold."
From an agency standpoint, we felt the shift as ad agencies and PR firms began swallowing up the independent interactive agencies or building their own interactive departments. Five years for the "masses" to speak about the Web and websites as a given, not a fad.
In 2008, I began to recognize what I was feeling about my "strange little hobby" of tweeting and my struggles to convince my clients that there were new channels on the Web where they could market called "social media" were early signals of a turning point in the next wave of communications transformation. Not wanting to get caught off guard this time, I convinced a trusted, business-savvy friend to join my little consultancy and grow it into a social media marketing agency. It took about two years for ad agencies and PR firms to begin swallowing up the independent social media marketing agencies or scramble to build their own interactive departments. The landscape has drastically changed. Where to go next?
In 2010, we've watched a swirl of excitement around mobile, iPhones, Android, iPad, and more. I predict that by the end of 2011, we'll be in the thick of adoption and industry transition.
Are you ready?
Going into the New Year, just remember these things:
1. A mobile app isn't a strategy. "I need a mobile app" will be 2011's "I need a Facebook Page." Why? Ask yourself why?
2. Invest now. Invest smart. A mobile strategy isn't a short term thing. "Going mobile" takes a commitment because none of us fully know where things are going. I can only tell you that it is going to get there bigger and faster than any of us can imagine. If you start learning about it, thinking about it and building for it now, you will be leaps and bounds ahead of the rest.
3. Integrate, integrate, integrate. Don't treat mobile marketing or mobile apps development as a fun side project or a low-priority dabbling. Get serious now about mobile and add it to your marketing and communications mix not as a novelty but as a viable and integral platform to continue the conversation.
4. Do good work. While you integrate this powerful and intimate platform into your marketing mix, place diligent care in the way you use this new gateway to your audience, to consumers. Be valuable. Be useful. Be better than good. Don't screw up this incredible opportunity we all have to get closer to the people we are trying to reach. Don't invade. Don't abuse. Don't. Be. Stupid.
If you start thinking about and building for mobile engagement now, you have a reasonable chance of gaining a foothold in what threatens to become an oversaturated space. If you get that foothold, be mindful of what opportunity you have. Don't blow it.
How are you thinking about mobile?
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