For small businesses, the future isn’t social - it’s mobile.

March 05, 2012

Soon the distinction between traditional and social marketing won't matter. It's all going mobile. Right now Nielsen reports that 64% of 25-34 year olds own smartphones. 53% of 18-24 year olds do too. Just try to buy a non-smartphone. As it gets harder and harder to find "simple" phones, smartphone ownership among 35+ adults will skyrocket. Today's "second" screen will be the screen that matters most tomorrow.

And what are all of these smartphone owners doing with their iPhones and Androids? Downloading apps and using them while shopping in your store.

The time to get your mobile with your business is now.

  • Get your business listed on mobile networks: Ceating your profile on Google Places, Yelp and Foursquare will let you take advantage of how your customers are trying to find you online.
  • Create a mobile website: Yes, there is a difference. A mobile friendly website that loads quickly and works on the smaller "second screen" will open your door to mobile customers.
  • Creating a mobile app: This isn't for all small businesses, but development prices are going down and might be right for you. A mobile app lets your users interact with your business services in an environment that is dedicated to your business alone.
  • Start using QR codes: Again, this isn't for all small businesses, but if your customers are QR code scanners, then you need to be QR code friendly.
  • Get into mobile advertising: It's where your customers are spending their time.
  • Text Messaging: 95% of all text messages are read. At some point text message marketing will become like email marketing with low click-through rates, but until then...

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My definition has changed – for now, I call a ‘smartphone’ an internet computing device that is so good at connecting me to the rest of the world that it is good enough for me to use INSTEAD of a computer. I do not care about technical specs per se – just that it is a preferred method to get something done.We have a pair of Nokia phones that have a (on paper) decent camera, contact app, can text, and even connect to the web etc. On paper, they would pass muster as having many features listed for a ‘smartphone.’ But the implementation is SO bad, we basically use none of them.In contrast, a Palm Pre or iPhone really make surfing the web from a small pocket computer usable – sometimes even preferred over pulling out a computer. I swear Google maps on my iPhone is easier to use than the same site connected by a computer because the latter does not have GPS info connected to it.

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I have to admit that I can’t really find a magazine I want to read – I was a Linux Format subscriber, and tha was probably the best tech magazine I’ve read, since it didn’t pander to the lowest common denominator all the time. However, after a few years, I found I was learning less, so gave up. I’d like the same of Mac – a magazine which is not just news, beginners’ tutorials and adverts, but some in-depth technical articles – but haven’t found one.I read a lot of books and articles, though, and do not want bells and whistles – a simple PDF does the job for me. Moving images etc would be distracting, although, used carefully and sensibly, could be a benefit in terms of explaining things, I guess.I do like The Early Edition, though, set up with my favourite RSS feeds; increasingly, it’s how I read my regular websites.

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A smartphone is a pocket-sized device that provides:  1) Wireless communication (voice, text, data, and perhaps GPS, WiFi, bluetooth)  2) Personal Information Management (calendar, todo, contacts, memos, …)  3) email, web, and perhaps other internet services such as chat 4) synchronization of data with the ‘cloud’ and/or a pc 5) extensibility – user can install applications from 3rd party developersOr the short version – it’s the Swiss Army knife of electronic gadgets

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