His post, What makes a Successful Marketing Campaign on Social Networks?, is a very informative read. Owyang highlights many important attributes for Social Media success, such as the ability to scale quickly, fostering member interactions, offering a satisfying user experience, and company participation. The list is excellent, but I think there is an attribute missing: Successful Social Media is placeless.
Web 1.0 was largely inseparable from the browser and the PC. The era of the Internet was officially launched with the release of Netscape, and for a decade the most notable advancements were almost entirely browser based, such as Web sites, portals, e-commerce, banner advertising, and search engines. Web 2.0 still uses the browser, but the adoption of Web 2.o will be driven as much by what happens outside the browser as inside, including desktop applications, SMS, mobile applications, voice, passive monitoring, and real world experiences.
For a good example of how Social Media is placeless, just look at Twitter, one of the biggest Web 2.0 success stories to date. According to ReadWriteWeb, around half of Twitter users interact with the service on Twitter.com. How do the other half access Twitter?
- Through Instant Messaging
- Through desktop applications such as Twhirl, Digsby, and Twitterrific.
- Through mobile phone applications like Jwitter and Twitteresce.
- Through SMS.
- Through email.
- Through widgets such as Tweetahead and TwitThis.
- Through SecondLife via apps like TwitterBox and SL Messenger.
- Through geo-location tools such as Brightkite and GPSTwit.
- Through photo-sharing sites including TwitPic and TwitterPhoto.
- Through sites that send updates to multiple microblgs simultaneously, such as Ping.fm.
- By calling a phone number and speaking your desired Tweet on TwitterFone.
- From Social Bookmarking sites that integrate with tools like Twiggit.
- Through music sharing applications like TwittyTunes.
- And from Twitter's Mobile Web site.
Much of the placelessness of Social Media is being driven by new generations of mobile phones with Web access, GPS, cameras, and other features. Mobile Web use in the U.S. is growing by leaps and bounds; Bango reports that the United States will soon surpass the United Kingdom--where people have been surfing the Web on phones for many years--to become the top mobile Web browsing country in the world.
According to eMarketer, several recent studies are forecasting tremendous growth in Mobile Social Networking: ABI expects 140 million mobile subscribers worldwide by 2013; Juniper Research estimates that the number of mobile social networking users will rise to around 600 million worldwide by 2012; and Pyramid Research expects even greater growth, projecting 950 million mobile social networking users by 2012.
The soon-to-be-ironically-named Web 2.0 will become increasingly less Web based, with tools that permit intuitive control of information flow when and where consumers want that information. But until those tools arrive, brands seeking to make the biggest splash should consider ways to move Social Media out of the Web. Here are a couple of examples:
- Recipe Site: If your CPG brand launches a site where people can share recipes, why not consider a mobile site where consumers can access those recipes while they shop? Or, how about a feature that permits consumers to select their favorite recipes, enter their cell phone number, and receive an SMS message with a link to their personalized shopping list on a mobile WAP site? Or, why not use a shelf card beside the article that offers mobile access to other consumers' recipes via a texted link?
- Mall: Here's a perfect idea for a tween-seeking mall: Create a Twitter account and promote the account to young shoppers. Ask them to send an "@" reply to the account whenever they find a great deal. This will permit consumers to share and watch for the best deals while they shop.
- Event Photo Contest: Sponsoring an event? Invite consumers to post photos live from the event. Create a booth or kiosk where event visitors can see and vote on the photos, then announce the winner at the conclusion of the event. Or, use a panel of judges to pick the best photos and display them to all attendees along with SMS codes they can use to vote for their favorite shot. (You can motivate participation by offering a sweepstakes drawing among everyone who votes.)