Social Media Week kicked off Monday, and I was pleased to be invited to attend an evening panel entitled Mobile Meets Social: Seamlessly Converting “Check-ins” to Check-Outs, Hosted by Taylor.
The panel featured Rachel Cohn, Global Customer Marketing Strategist at Facebook; Drew Allen, VP of Business Development at Scoutmob; Melissa Lavigne-Delville, VP of Strategic Insights at NBC Universal; Professor Sree Sreenivasan, Columbia School of Journalism and Contributing Editor at dnainfo.com; and Peter Ha, Editor, Apps, Games and Technology for The Daily.
The evening’s discussion focussed on what we can expect in the future of mobile platforms and social media, and how they can best be utilized by businesses small and large. The panelists were for the most part fast-talking and almost overconfident in their assertions that un-bordered content and geolocation are going to be integral aspects of mobile platforms and business plans going forward. Though they acknowledged that these platforms are not, as of yet, perfectly implemented – Melissa compared the process of finding a business-consumer equilibrium to the first few dates with a new love interest – the panelists were quick to add that generating conversation and retaining influential fans and followers, as well as tying every strategic decision back to your business goals will bolster the sustainability of social media platforms.
The most important advice garnered by the panel related to sustainability practices for companies. Consumers are having to lead companies into social media in many instances by encouraging their favorite businesses to join Facebook / Twitter / Foursquare, etc. The company should be one step ahead of the consumer: offering them deals when they check in for the first time, already being present on all of the consumer’s favorite social media platforms when they join, offering a full-service app that provides the consumer with an experience (not just a coupon) that they will remember. Companies whose social media practices succeed in the twenty-first century will do so by holding attention – not with outrageous stunts or gimmicks, but by engaging the consumer, and offering them more than they expect, presented in an intuitively-designed package. As long as business is a two-way street between company and consumer, a company won’t have to fret too much about ROI.
Peter Ha, perhaps the most technically advanced member of the panel, posed a couple of doubting questions that I wish the moderators had given his fellow panelists and audience members a chance to answer. He wanted to know whether, in a landscape where deals are all the rage on Foursquare, Living Social, Groupon, Scoutmob, etc., products will lose quality in order to achieve the lowest price and beat out the competition? He also suggested that encouraging check-ins at so many places with incentives creates a much bigger sociological problem. Engaging us on mobile apps makes us more oblivious to the world and people around us. Isn’t social media threatening to make us anti-social? Though his questions were glossed over, I appreciated Ha’s skepticism, and resonated with what he said. Do you?
What do you think of “checking in” on your mobile device? Do you do it frequently, and would you do it more often if an incentive was at stake?