The insider’s guide to mobile social networking: the 10 Ps

The 10 Ps of mobile social networking: popularity; planning; personal; proposition; permanence; participation; personalization; proliferation; passion and performance.
Contributors to this guide included:
• Franco Beschizza, head of mobile at the UK government’s Central Office of Information;
• Stefanie Hoffmann, managing director, at Germany-based social network Aka-Aki;
• Martin Harris, senior vice president, Bango;
• Peter Ward, co-founder & co-CEO, at UK-based social network Where Are You Now? (WAYN).
• Check out these compelling mobile-social-networking stats.

The 10 Ps of mobile social networking

1. Popularity
The latest statistics from the GSMA and ComScore not only show that social networking is not only a key reason for accessing the mobile Internet, with sites such as Facebook among the most popular mobile destinations, but also that mobile users spend more time accessing social networking sites, than PC users.

Minutes spent on social networking per day accessed by mobile device or desktop
Social Network Mobile Internet PC Internet
Facebook 45.2 32.4
Bebo (AOL) 39.6 22
MySpace 8.2 7.5
Twitter 19.6 7.2
Source: GSMA/ComScore, January 2010
via: mobiThinking

“With more people accessing social networks from mobile phones than from PCs, brands are starting to realize the big opportunities that this channel presents to build customer engagement and create brand awareness. According to ComScore, 48 percent of time spent on the mobile Internet is on social networking sites. In countries like Japan and South Korea, mobile social networking has reached critical mass – making it a well-established medium – thanks to the mobile networks infrastructure and affordable data tariffs. Now in western countries the growth is now starting to accelerate.” – Martin Harris, Bango

2. It’s personal and private
The most important aspect of both social networking and mobile is the personal nature of both the media and the channel. It is essential to realize that an uninvited marketer is gate-crashing a social gathering and doing so on a closely guarded private device.
“It’s personal, as in, it’s my personal content and communications channel, and it’s always with me and switched on. Don’t start thinking you have an automatic right to enter this space without my permission.” – Franco Beschizza, COI

3. Planning the campaign
This personal nature of mobile social networking makes it even more important that marketers plan their campaigns very carefully to avoid the pitfalls: remember bad publicity can travel as fast, or faster, than good publicity on a social network.
For this reason, social networks recommend careful planning of the campaign, preferably with the expert help, either with the social networks themselves or an innovative digital agency, who understands how best to engage mobile consumers of social networks.
“In order for brands to engage effectively with mobile social networks, they need to be able to first, be clear on what they are trying to achieve. The right kind of campaign or approach will largely be determined based on the brand or publishers’ objectives. WAYN finds that campaigns that create an ongoing engagement rather than a one-off burst are more successful, but this requires more than a one-off investment and a willingness to try different approaches. It’s important to note that engagement doesn’t just come from banners; there are notifications, newsfeeds, integrated profiles, partner pages, surveys, competitions, games, widgets and more, these are all tried and tested on the PC Internet and WAYN will be gradually introducing these to the mobile platform over the course of the coming months.” – Peter Ward, WAYN

4. The proposition
In the social network, the customer is king. Their social network is a place of trust and intimacy. They choose to follow a brand in the same way they decide to in the same way they choose to add a friend or connection to their network. So to win a place in the social group, the brand needs an engaging proposition.
Some things just beg to be talked about – a great example is Coca-Cola Soundwave Discovery Tour, which was promoted over the Aka-Aki social network in Germany. Here new bands compete to win a sponsorship package from Coca-Cola, which includes helping with their album and single releases and promoting and planning tours.
But often campaigns will need a little enticement to help foster the relationship:
“Effective campaigns often include a competition, event or survey requiring a response from the user. Those that also include an element of reward or payback for the user (of course, relevant to the experience) are likely to be even more effective” – Peter Ward, WAYN

5. Permanence
Once the relationship is initiated, it can lead to a strong, rewarding and symbiotic relationship, that lasts long after the campaign ends, where the brand can continue to communicate directly, without fear of being considered spam, and receive feedback direct from the target market. The consumer benefits from exclusive, or early, information, invitations to special events, promotions and free stuff. Mobile social networks recommend planning for the long-term engagement, rather than a short sharp campaign.
For the brand that is invited into the network, the rewards are high:
“It’s all about trust and intimacy: members know and trust their social network environment. If brands are integrated carefully, the engagement with the user will be much better. Once connected, users will stay with the brand and even communicate with their other friends about the brand.” – Stefanie Hoffmann, Aka-Aki

6. Participation
The key for the brand is participation. This isn’t just about initiating a two-way communication – clearly, bombarding consumers with a blanket of information is a complete a no-no – but to become part of the wider conversation of the group, while trying to influence outcomes and perceptions with active engagement.
“Entertain me, not in a funny way, but in a thought-provoking way. Help me to use social media via mobile in an interesting way to communicate with my friends.” – Franco Beschizza, COI
In 2009 the UK’s Central Office of Information ran a campaign to promote safe sex and condom use among teens. This centered on an interactive made-for-mobile teen drama called Thmbnls that was totally free to watch (i.e. zero-rated data) and watched by 450k unique visitors. The campaign used SMS and social networking to communicate with and encourage the target group to discuss the issues. See this case study for more details.

7. Personalized and targeted marketing
The personal nature of the social network means that not only is precision targeting possible, it’s also part of the rules of engagement. Social networks have a deep knowledge of their customers through sign up, friends and user-generated content. Add to this the richer demographic and location data available when the customer is mobile, as opposed to PC-based. This not only creates a heady cocktail of personalization for the marketer, but also leads to a high level of expectation from the recipient.
“Mobile social networks not only offer a unique environment for brands to deliver and promote their services but also offer the immediacy of sharing with friends. More importantly mobile is personal and delivers the best data available for brands to target and personalize their offering.
But to get the most from mobile it is crucial to fully understand everyone you see, along with their actions and this is where the use of mobile analytics is vital.” – Martin Harris, Bango

8. Proliferation/popularity
The goal is to engender word-of-mouth/viral proliferation of a message through the network.
“To go viral, build in an incentive for users to want to share it with their friends, ideally in a way that benefits both parties.” – Peter Ward, WAYN

9. Passion
Brands need to keep their finger on the pulse. If marketers can spot trends as they emerge, they stand a better chance of connecting with consumers.
“According to German company Gofresh [a customer of Bango] social gaming is the next big trend in mobile social networking. All mobile games are browser-based and free-to-play on the company’s mobile social network,, but players can purchase special premium items to use in the games – about 15 percent of users do.” – Martin Harris, Bango

10. Performance
Mobile social networking is the sweet spot between social networking, interacting with consumers where they are on their own terms, and mobile, the always-on and most measurable of media. Data-wise social networks potentially know their members and their likes and dislikes, as well as anyone, while mobile brings additional demographic and location-based information.
“The return on investment (ROI) for any campaign can be measured and evaluated at any time, so the campaign strategy can be adjusted in real time. Where mobile social networks offer pricing per interaction, as opposed to just contact pricing, marketers can better cost campaigns and deliver better ROI. The flexibility of mobile social networking is an attractive proposition to an advertising industry that is in flux.” – Stefanie Hoffmann, Aka-Aki

And don’t miss:

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  • Carnival of the Mobilists #214 – the best of mobile blogging
  • Why are many great mobile Olympics sites not found by mobile search engines?
  • mobiThinking guide to mobile ad networks (2010)
  • The insiders’ guides to mobile Web marketing:
    Canada, USA, Germany, UK, India, Australia, Spain, South Africa, Brazil
  • Interview: Tom Eslinger, digital creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide
  • How top football/soccer clubs engage fans with mobile
  • Ad networks mobile metrics reports: how they stack up
  • Conferences & awards for mobile marketers, with offers
  • mobiThinking’s page of essential links
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