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John Rose's Blog

Are you ready for SoLoMo?

Social-Local-Mobile, or SoLoMo, is shorthand for the convergence of social media with smart phone location technologies, applications and the mobile web. It is being called the Holy Grail of marketing.

The interlinking of social media with the ability to engage with consumers contextually, i.e. based on time, date, venue and activity, presents unique and heretofore unavailable opportunities for marketers.

Location-based engagement (LBE) already includes local search, photo tagging, checking-in, price comparison shopping, mobile interactive ads and displays, leaving tips and reviews, redeeming offers, responding to ads, tagging tweets and a whole lot more.

LBE opens a direct channel between the consumer and brand that can lead to very powerful outcomes. And as smart phone manufacturers add Near Field Communication (NFC) technologies to their devices that allow contactless transactions to take place and make Mobile Wallets a reality, we can add PURCHASE to the engagement process. Apple is already planning to include Passbook in iOS 6, where movie, concert, airline tickets, etc. will be pushed to iPhones. Can iWallet be far behind?

SoLoMo is already taking hold in the US and around the world. And it’s poised to explode in Russia, which is already home to Europe’s most active users of social media.

But where do we begin?

SoLoMo is about more than just being present in each of those channels. People don’t really care how well we manage the technologies. It’s about making our brand engagement a seamless part of our customer’s lives.

SoLoMo marketing allows brands to engage with its customers in the activities they enjoy while adding value via interactivity, information, entertainment, rewards, discounts, etc.

Neiman Marcus is testing an app in its stores that connects a shopper with a sales associate. The customer’s preferred sales associate is automatically alerted when he or she enters the store along with a Facebook photo, purchase history and new items the customer has highlighted while shopping.

Walgreens sends customers coupons when they check-in via Foursquare at any of their stores. The app also refills drug prescriptions and reminds them when to take their medicine.

SoLoMo allows us to blur the line between our physical and virtual worlds so that we achieve a superior experience in each, and share that experience with our friends.

One great example is the Starbucks mobile app. The app allows customers to locate the closest store, explore its menu and nutritional information, pay for Starbucks purchases (which is integrated with the Starbucks Rewards Program) and share their locations and favorite drinks via Facebook and Twitter, or even use the app to find a job at Starbucks.

At its best, SoLoMo promotes brands by simultaneously enhancing the customer experience. So finding ways to do good for our customers should be our starting point. How can we make our customer’s life easier and more enriched by engaging with our brand wherever they are? The technology is available and improving daily. Now we simply have to learn to leverage it in a creative manner to the benefit of our brands.