Going Mobile Basics

Lately I have been asked a lot about mobile. Specifically, “Should I Have a Mobile Website or a build an APP?” If you are getting an answer to this question you are talking to the wrong people. The right answer that you should be receiving is that the decision is not Web APP or Native APP. There are more than 2 options! Technically there are 4 possible mobile options you should consider.

Native apps, which are coded with a specific programming language (Objective C for iOS, Java for Android). These mobile applications are fast, reliable, and powerful but are tied to a mobile platform. That means you must duplicate them using the appropriate programming language in order to target another mobile platform. Nearly all games are native apps.

Hybrid apps, which rely on development frameworks like Sencha, PhoneGap, Titanium, Rhomobile, ParticleCode, Corona, Mosync, Worklight, BkRender. These mobile apps offer a very interesting compromise because they ensure cross-platform compatibility and can access the phone’s hardware (camera, GPS, user’s contacts). IGN’s mobile social network Dominate is just such a hybrid app.

Dedicated web app, which is a mobile web site tailored to a specific platform or form factor, like the LinkedIn web app which was designed for Android and iOS, but not for other smartphones or feature phones.

Generic mobile app, which are mobile web sites designed to match every web-enabled phone, like the Wikipedia mobile page.

Ok, that gets complicated. How do you know what best to do? Good question. There is no best choice. It’s all about context, and that is evolving very quickly. What I know is that: If your mobile application is mainly used to display and interact with online content or services, avoid the native choice. On the other hand, if your application is mainly used offline, a native app will offer a better user experience.

In either case, what you should remember is that mobile is not only about choosing between web and native apps. It requires a more sophisticated approach. Here’s my advice to help you define an effective mobile strategy:

1. Build an API infrastructure to allow easy and reliable access to your content and services.
2. If you decide to use native apps, hire or train an internal team on major mobile platforms’ technologies (iOS, Android) and use sub-contractors for minor mobile platforms (RIM)
3. Don’t try to replicate your entire web site. Rethink your offer on a local level and focus on what brings most value in a mobile context.

To simplify a bit more lets compare Native APP to Web APP:

Native Apps: Must be downloaded from something like the iTunes Store, the Android Market, the Amazon Appstore, or a similar service. Native apps play locally on an iPhone, iPad, or other device. That means they ‘execute’ on your system not on a remote web server. In general, native apps provide the most options for rich media and interactivity.

Web Apps: Highly interactive web-based programs, such as the reservation system at American Airlines (aa.com), provide app-like experiences from a web site. Web apps play in a web browser over a network (for example: wifi or 3G). Web apps require advanced programming skills.

If you want to reach anyone, anytime, anywhere …

Native Apps: Most native apps require a relatively high-speed connection or a long wait for the initial download. After an app is downloaded, some can play anywhere, anytime, but many apps are designed to download additional information, such as GPS coordinates or news updates and require a connection for the latest information.

Web Apps: Web apps require users to be connected, but if done well, they don’t require a very fast connection and they can be updated in real time very efficiently. All web apps essentially run a program on a remote web server. Lose that connection, and you get nothing.

If you want to publish to many devices at once …

Native Apps: When you develop apps you have to create a version for each operating system. That means a different version for each of the following:
• Apple iPad / iPhone
• Google Android ‘Droid’
• Blackberry
• Windows Mobile
• and more …
Watch the growth of HTML 5 to solve this problem.

Web Apps: If you’re focused on the latest in tablet and touchscreen devices, you can do a lot with a web app. If you want to reach the broadest audience, you’ll want to deliver just the right version to each device using device detection and content adaptation.

If you want to spend as little money as possible …

Native Apps: At the high end, you can easily spend hundreds of thousands of dollars developing rich-media interactive apps, especially when you factor in all the video, animation, and other assets that make games and other applications visually appealing — and popular. Creating an app for the iPhone or iPad can cost anything from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the complexity.

Web Apps: A team of programmers and other specialists builds most web apps. Sites like Gmail and Twitter represent hundreds of thousands of development hours. At the entry level, you can create many rich web app features with JavaScript, jQuery, or jTouch. At the high end, you can do almost anything these days if you have the time, budget, and programming expertise.

Steve Rockman


Trying To Improve Your Social Media Marketing?

I am often asked, how do I improve my engagement within my community? The problem is common and the solution is easy to define, but a bit more difficult to execute.

It is imperative to understand, that not all the people in your community are the same! What does that mean? According to Charlene Li, Forrester Research Analyst, in her book, Groundswell there are six types of influencers in your community. They are; Creators, Critics, Collectors, Joiners, Spectators and Inactives. Each group must be engaged differently according to their behavioral characteristics.
Your brand can not be pushing the same marketing message at every ‘influencer’. My view is that you should adapt a strategy or strategies dependent upon the kind influencer someone might be.

Steve Rockman

For example, for “creators” you should pose questions and allow them to create content for your community. This kind of person does not want to be spammed with your content but they enjoy the process of a discussion that promotes or debates their theory.

Conversely, this approach would be less successful with Collectors. To engage with this group, you need to give them excellent data that they can use for other purposes within their business or personal life. There is a perfectly valid reason why we need to understand influence. Brands and marketers have limited time and money so we must engage with the people that count in the right manner…the manner by which that want want to engage with your brand.

Only if we truly understand who we are talking to within our community can we hope to have our message spread and create true engagement. Remember engagement in 2012 means creating content, sharing that content and allowing your audience to interact with that content.

Steve Rockman

Engaging The Social User Via Mobile

• Increase Your Likes and Comments – Find the evangelists. Marketers should focus on targeting the core of their community. Engage with your core audience to get better engagement.
• Text & Images – Mobile users are engaging mostly with text and image based posts. Don’t overcomplicate your mobile plans –
keep it simple.
• Be Engaging – Be conscious of the length of the post and try and keep the post length short and sweet. Remember that your community is engaging with your brand from a mobile device – shorter is better!
• Day & Time – Day & Time of posts are critical, then refine over time to build the best community. Understand that later in the week typically does the best, but test and learn within your community to find the best engagement days.
• The highest spike is at 3pm EST, which equates to noon/lunchtime PST
• 11am EST is also 8am PST, so we see a spike at 11am EST when west coast is coming online in the morning
• 8pm EST post and commenting spike accounts for post-dinner time and 5pm PST checking in before people leave work.
• Test – Test different posting times and gauge your community engagement.
• !!! – Be careful about overusing exclamation marks in posts. Keep emphasis based punctuation to a minimum. Your community is savvy and knows what messages are important, you don’t need to scream at them.
• Ensure your marketing strategy includes tactics for when both mobile and non-mobile engagement is highest. As an example, using an image post, as opposed to a text or video post, will garner better engagement from both non-mobile and mobile users on Saturday late at night, Sunday early morning or in the afternoon on both Saturday and Sunday.

Steve Rockman

3 Great New iPhone Apps

During November, iPhone app downloads surged 83% over last year.

App downloads are expected to climb even higher as more consumers purchase the iPhone. Analysts predict as many as 30 million iPhones could be shipped in the first quarter of 2012.

Here are three new or recently updated programs to check out.

Wenzani is a new mobile travel guide that makes suggestions for places to eat, shop and bar-hop based on recommendations from friends, experts and other guide brands like Frommers and Lonely Planet.
Besides having access to expert recommendations, the app also has a social component. Through Wenzani, you can ask friends for real-time travel recommendations via Facebook or Twitter. Answers are then pushed instantly to your phone.
In the future, Wenzani’s developers say that you’ll be able to tailor your recommendations depending on the weather, time of year, etc. — for example, the app will eventually know not to suggest visiting a particular park if it’s raining in the area.

Stamped is a new recommendation app — founded by former Google(GOOG) employees — designed to cut down on the clutter found through services like Yelp. Stamped’s founders believe that users are more likely to trust recommendations from people they know rather than complete strangers.
Once you sign up for Stamped, you received 100 virtual stamps that you use to mark your approval on restaurants, books, music and TV shows. You can then find friends on the app to follow by connecting through Facebook and scanning through your address book. Users earn more points when their friends “like” what you recommend.
Stamped also lets you make reservations through OpenTable(OPEN), buy movie tickets through Fandango and purchase books via Amazon(AMZN).

Flipboard is one of the most downloaded iPad apps since its launch last year, and its new iPhone app has been quickly gaining traction, too. Demand for the app was so high that it reportedly crashed the company’s servers as more than 1 million users downloaded Flipboard in its first week.
Flipboard is a digital magazine personalized to your tastes and interests. In an asethetically-pleasing layout similar to what you see in a printed magazine, the app displays relevant links from your social networks (Twitter and Facebook) as well as other content you might like based on your categories of choice (i.e. business, style, travel, etc.). Flipboard gradually learns what you might be interested in viewing based on your reading history, tailoring the articles you see.
Once the app populates with links, you can “flip” to the next piece of content by swiping upwards.
Flipboard is one of the best content viewing and sharing apps, though the app’s focus on design lends itself better to the iPad’s larger screen.

Steve Rockman

The Future Of Your Smartphone

This is a summary of how I think,smartphones of the future (2015 – 2020) could change.
1. More AI and speech recognition and better gesture control
2. Context awareness and more integration with sensors and other phones
3. Different display options (rollable displays, better picoprojectors and more)
4. Increased processing power and better energy efficiency and management

2012 – Small Business To Go Mobile & Social

Ad-ology 2012 Small Business Marketing Forecast, one in five small businesses plan to invest more resources in mobile applications and advertising in 2012. As a result of their own experience with smartphones, the companies see mobile as a way to deliver a new ad message quickly. In 2009, only 2% of small businesses surveyed planned increased resources for mobile.

Only 10% will not use social media in 2012, down from 39% just two years ago. “Improving the customer experience” was ranked at the top of the social-media benefits list. In fact, the preferred way many consumers now communicate their concerns with a company is through social media.

I believe mobile and social will continue to impact the hospitality industry as restauranteurs and retailers will realize that the mobile user needs a much different experience than the desktop user. They will also learn that they must engage their target audience in dialogue when on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Other findings from the study for 2012:

* 29% of small business owners plan to increase budgets for direct mail.

* Newspapers, with their new emphasis on digital, as well as broadcast TV, cable TV and radio are also expected to see increases.

* Nearly 25% plan to increase their budget for daily deals.

* 45% plan to increase their overall advertising spending in 2012, with just 4% percent planning a decrease.

Steve Rockman

Companies Still Don’t Understand Social Media.

Just a few factual pieces of information you might be interested in reading.

1. Spending – Social media spending is extremely low. Almost two-thirds of respondents to a recent survey said they spend just 5% or less of their marketing budget on social media. While social can be less expensive than other marketing elements, this is surprisingly low. Social represents a big opportunity to get a high return for spend, if properly resourced. This level of investment would suggest that marketing departments are looking at social as an experiment or, at best, a campaign, rather than an ongoing effort that requires the programs and staff to build and maintain relationships over the long haul.

2. Don’t Know What To Do – Companies are still broadcasting, not interacting. Social tools are meant to be used as two-way communications devices. Over 60% of companies surveyed felt that social media was very important in brand building but less than 20% thought it was very important to product ideation. Really??? A surprising 58% stated that social media was not important to product or service testing. Really? Talk to Mountain Dew. This would seem to show that social media is considered more like one-way advertising and less like a channel for understanding customer needs and leveraging valuable and available customer insights in product development.

3. Not Understood – Social’s value across business functions not realized. Just under 40% view social media as very important to demand generation and under 30% are using social media for employee engagement. This shows that the potential of social media to engage prospects, customers and employees is not fully understood. Most of the respondents to this survey were in marketing so they may not be reporting on activity in other functions but the cautionary note is that each part of an organization can benefit from well designed social efforts, particularly if they are not siloed but allow insights to cross functional lines and be shared more effectively.

Steve Rockman

Top 3 reasons to train your executives in social media.

1. Sense of Urgency. Your senior teams should understand the fundamentals of social media and the implications of real-time communication as it relates to customer service and sales. Your legal and HR teams should be able to articulate the liability to the company and the responsibilities of the employee as it relates to social media.
2. Opportunity. Whether B2B or B2C, a solid social business approach can help you find new opportunities to attract and retain customers globally and increase the bottom line. Your managers need to be effective in reaching your target markets with participation over public social networks and platforms. You need to be in continuous improvement mode, not hesitating at the starting line.
3. Competition. The hunt for new customers has never been more fierce. Your competitors know how to reach your customers, stakeholders, and suppliers via social channels – do you? Understanding how to use Twitter and LinkedIn search tools for business and competitive intelligence is critical.

In the beginning…of this blog.

A while ago, as many that will read this know, I had a opportunity to take some time and write. I by no means am a writer. Actually if you decide to read this blog you will see that I don’t spell or punctuate very well at all. I’m not sure why that is as I had wonderful schooling with teachers that cared, or at least seemed to, but I never got the writing piece very well.

I am not sure what I will end up writing about as I wrestle with talking about what I do, digital marketing. Or what I like to do, watch New York Giants Football or write about my adventures. I think till it takes shape that I will write about anything that comes to mind. I hope that you will contribute and write your thoughts as well.

So today I am thinking about happiness. I was inspired today by Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist Monk and a TED talk that he did a few years ago. As I do everyday, I spend my morning walk to work listening to TED talks. Most I don’t understand, but I listen anyway. I highly recommend you get in the habit of listening to TED every morning. I realized during this walk and throughout the day how unhappy people are. I mean truly unhappy. Almost in tears, unhappy. I wonder why? I suppose people think they are suffering and I suppose that based on my experiences of the last 10 years I have a different version of suffering. I know that I know longer get upset if a car pulls out in front of me or if the woman at Dunkin Donuts forgot my bagel or if when I get into work something from the night before wasn’t done or done correctly. I guess those things just don’t matter any long. If they are wrong, then they are wrong.

So what I learned this morning and I will try to remember were the habits of people that are happy.

1. Let it go. The past is the past and there is absolutely nothing we can do about what happened a minute ago. Live in the present.
2. Appreciate the simple. As Andy Warhol said, “You have to be able to be happy about nothing at all.”
3. Being happy is not easy and it takes practice. But it is possible.
4. Don’t believe what you mind is telling you unless you see it or hear it for yourself.
5. Value the people in your life.
6. Get focused, stay focused on your passions in life.

Anyway thanks to some incredibly unpleasant times over the past 10 years, this is what I learned.