Forrester Research recently released the Mobile Mindshift Index, a study that looks at the attitude of mobile phone users rather than just activity. It also allows brands to assess where they stand with regard to how mobile their audiences are in terms of thought processes and behaviour (the expectation that I as a female belonging to a specific age-group have, that information should be available to me in a mobile-ready format whenever I want, for example – whether that is through responsive design or mobile-specific content). This in turn will affect how quickly they need to evolve their communications plan to include mobile and how involved their efforts should be.
Whenever I think of so-called ‘brand mobile strategies’, the first thing that comes to my mind is a quote I read last year by David Armano from Edelman about the difference between mobile and mobility. It’s from this Harvard Business Review piece:
Mobility trumps mobile. The difference between mobility and mobile is like the difference between hardware and software. Mobile is linked to devices — it is always one thing, wherever it is. But mobility changes with context: cultures incorporate mobile technologies differently.
Forrester’s Mobile Mindshift Index helps to take this discussion forward. It is high time that we as an industry stopped discussing mobile strategy as linked to the device and started thinking and talking about how people’s attitudes and behaviours change with the context in which they use the device. It will help cut down on app myopia, for one. It will force utility on to the agenda rather than being ego-centric. As we provide more utility as brands, people will seek us out rather than treat us as a one-night stand. Benadryl’s Social Pollen Count app might be yet another app to some people but as a hayfever sufferer it provides enough utility for me to actively seek it out and open it when I don’t feel all that well so that I can assess if other people feel that way too, and which locations I should be avoiding. And the more I do that, the more benignly I feel towards the brand and the more I am likely to think of them during my next visit to Boots – in fact, I might even make a visit specifically to seek them out the way I sought out their app.
Another valid point the Forrester Report discusses is the importance of paying attention to the data generated by mobile content. Creating content is only the first part of the answer (if that is indeed the answer, that is – remember that it may very well not be what is right for your brand). Most brands today invest in content production without taking the time to do their due diligence and invest in the analytics and the data output simultaneously.
For too long mobile has been the ‘next big thing’. I think we are all agreed that it is here to stay and it is part of the mainstream as a communications tool and channel already; the ‘Year of Mobile’ is not 2013 because that time has passed. Given this, what we need to do is consciously shift gears, think of it in keeping with the context and behaviour it comes with for our specific audiences rather than everyone as a whole, and not treat it as an add-on or vanity metric.
For a long time after the introduction of mobile phones, my uncle would stand with his mobile in one place, similar to how he used to use a landline, and have long conversations with family or friends as if he had to be rooted there in order to be able to talk. His son saw this one day and said, ‘You do know why it’s called a ‘mobile’, right? You can actually walk around with it, you don’t have to be stuck in one place!’
Time to apply that thinking to brands – mobiles are more than anything about a behaviour, not just a device.
Posted by Anjali Ramachandran, Head of Innovation (@anjali28)