Mobile websites are more than websites redesigned to look good on mobile devices
When a business or organization thinks about delivering a mobile media version of their Internet presence to their customers, there is a tendency to want to start by migrating what they already have on the Internet to a mobile media platform. In my work developing mobile media strategy, I have come across a consistent misconception that all that needs to be done is a redesign of their current website for mobile devices.
It is understandable that this is a common misconception because we always understand new concepts by starting with what we already know and have. This article concentrates on how you can move past this starting point quickly and begin to investigate the unique strengths and capabilities of mobile media. Once these are understood, a new way of thinking emerges. Thinking in a Mobile Media way takes a bit of contemplation and re-evaluation.

New Assumption #1: Mobile Media Has Fundamentally Changed How We Communicate

Twitter on Blackberry

The first new assumption that you need to factor into developing a mobile media presence is the basic fact that mobile media changes the way we communicate. Communication has changed in the mobile media world to be immediate, constant, ubiquitous, and reputation based. An always on, always accessible Internet connection creates a world where we can stay in constant contact with your friends, family, and customers.

Mobile media and Twitter go hand-in-hand. Twitter shortens information into mini-bursts of communication. A similar principle applies to building a mobile presence. Mobile media pages shrink in size and become dynamically loaded chunks of information that can be personalized and load dynamically. This reminds me a lot of the portal home pages in the mid-1990s. These pages contained modules (information chunks) containing news from specific channels or information from a specific topic category. These lego-blocks of website information were reconfigure by the user to build their own home page. A similar strategy will work well in the mobile media world. A technology called AJAX is often used to pull in information within a mobile page based on user interaction on the page. This shortens page loading times because information is only loaded if the user wants it.

 

Impacts

  • You need to build communication tools into your mobile presence
  • Communication should be front and centre
  • Trade in depth of content for smaller bites of information that update and change frequently

New Assumption #2: Mobile Media Locates Information Geographically

Smartphones have elaborate GPS technologies built into them. This has a huge privacy impact because it is extremely easy to track your exact location at any time. I won't get bogged down in the government and surveillance issues. Instead I will focus on the positive aspect of GPS technology. Because your smartphone knows exactly where you are at any given time, information can be placed in geographical space and information becomes geolocated.

With this technology in mind, you can begin to develop new marketing opportunities for your business. For example, in a grocery store, you can let users view the specials that are available in a specific grocery store isle based on the user's current location. If a user walks by a specific nightclub you can allow customers to opt in to receiving information about the upcoming DJs and events for the weekend. If you are at the Art Gallery and are standing next to a Monet painting, your phone can pull up additional information about the painting by scanning a bar code next to the painting (resulting in a web page with more information being displayed on the smartphone).

Impacts

  • Information can be supplied based on location for immediate impact and to add information beyond the physical environment alone
  • Information becomes relevant because it aligns with the context the user is in
  • Surfing is replaced with contextually relevant information that finds you based on your location

New Assumption #3: Blogging Anywhere and at Any Time

Wordpress Mobile Blog Series

Bloggers have typically gone home after their day and write a blog when they have spare time. This was a deliberate sit down and write approach to blogging. This is definitely old school. In the mobile media world blogging can happen at any time and in any place. Images, video, and audio can be uploaded to a server from smartphone. Typically the content is created and immediately uploaded so it is available for anyone to view. Using templates and mobile apps a blog can be quickly pieced together from video, audio, images, and a small amount of text. The mobile blog is a reality today. Wordpress, one of the most popular blogging server technologies already supports mobile blogging and mobile administration. There is an iPhone app that allow you to create, edit, administer, and approve comments anywhere you are. Much more is to come.

Mobile Tweeting (on Twitter) is the more popular form of immediate mobile blogging. Twitter can be thought of as a very short blog entry. It is common to integrate your tweets right into your blog site using a Twitter plugin that displays your tweets within your blog. Blog and tweets become one and the same.

 

Impacts

  • Blogs are more like live broadcasts with immediate, raw, on location content and information
  • Blogs can take on a more news-like immediacy and will compete with television more and more
  • Reality TV and blogs become very similar media types
  • Our lives become more public and the Internet is transformed from an alienating disconnected world to a more personal connected social networking universe

New Assumption #4: Intelligent Agents that Find Information For You

Smartphone users are downloading and installing mobile apps that retrieve information for the user and filtering what information is useful for them automatically. This changes how information is exchanged in very important ways.

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Mobile apps really are intelligent information agents that go out and find information for you and display a summary on your smartphone or mobile device. There are games, utilities, and goofy applications but there is also new type of app emerging. These apps find information for you and locate that information geographically. One of the cool new apps I found was AroundMe (iPhone App). When you travel takes you to a new location, AroundMe (learn more)quickly finds nearby businesses from the nearest bank to the closest gas station. AroundMe will then develop a route so you can find them using your iPhone's GPS system. This brings information to you that is relevant, useful, and adapts to where you are and what interests you. This is basically an intelligent agent. Rather than having to go out and search and retrieve these agents find, determine what is relevant, and deliver information to you when the information is going to be of most relevance to you (based on location, time, and preferences).

The power of the mobile medium is that it is always with you so information is always accessible to you. There is one problem. If you are always connected how do you go on with your day without becoming completely overloaded with information. You could literally be surfing and writing email 24/7. That would seriously put the breaks on your life. So the solution to the problem is to get the smartphone to find the information for you and deliver it to you when it makes the most sense and is the most relevant. The intelligent agent will continue to evolve because of this basic reality of mobile media.

Impacts

  • Less time is spent surfing to web pages and more time is spent living
  • If your mobile media strategy doesn't take into account this change in information exchange you can find yourself without any audience
  • Much more attention must be paid to creating relevant, useful, entertaining, and valuable information that intelligent agents can easily find and retrieve
  • Web pages become less relevant in this new universe.

New Assumption #5: Communication Has Fundamentally Changed and Reputation Matters

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Mobile media has changed communicating in the following ways:

  • Communication becomes direct, specific and to the point
  • Communication has become faster – almost to the point where it expected that an SMS message is returned within 5 minutes
  • The style of communication has changed-- abbreviated, more informal, pop-culture based
  • Mobile media has changed our methods of getting information from search and retrieve to receive, evaluate, share, and disseminate
  • We now gain information from Twitter, Facebook posts, blogs, and viral popularity of content (information storms)

The early Internet era was often alienating and distanced us from people and communicating. We became librarians searching out information in a disconnected world of websites and information devoid of feedback and reputation.

Mobile media and social networking have re-empowered your customers to share opinions, ideas, advice, and evaluate reputation rapidly and easily. Information now exists in an Internet social networking universe. New communication strategies are needed to plug-into this new shared consciousness.

Impacts

  • Our online reputations matter. People will judge and evaluate our content based on our social network, what other say about you, and what you have contributed in the past.
  • Careful thought needs to go into your online persona and image. Businesses have an opportunity to use this to build an Internet personality or brand based on reputation and social networking
  • Mobile media speeds up and shrinks communication. Information moves faster and in smaller chunks.

New Assumption #6: Your Audience Becomes Closer and Control the Flow of Communication

Mobile media puts you in constant and direct communication with your customers or audience. Your audience can actively choose to engage and disengage at any time and that choice has become fully within their control. New techniques, considerations, and approaches need to be taken to ensure you stay in contact with your audience in the mobile media world.

Impacts

  • Much more care needs to be taken to ensure your Internet reputation remains in tact and you listen to your audience and customers
  • Understanding what you audience and customers want becomes imperative
  • An efficient feedback loop of information from your audience or customers becomes essential to succeed
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