The other night I had the distinct pleasure to chaperone 80, yes 80 college women at their new member pledge retreat. For them this was a “bonding weekend” full of getting-to-know-you activities. For me, although I loved meeting the girls, it was a “reminder weekend” validating my years as a pool rat and not a camper. I mean really, anytime you have to follow a path with a flashlight to get to the bathroom, exist in 90 degree weather/ humidity with no AC under a sleeping bag, and sleep in a bottom bunk in a screened porch with little things flying around the light of your BlackBerry, it’s a test of your personal metal – either that or a cosmic joke.
But in the midst of this, it became apparent that I was witnessing a Generation Y phenomenon – the mobile web has gone mainstream. It was lights out in our cabin, but honestly you couldn’t tell. The light from the iPhones, BlackBerrys and other mobile devices was enough to keep the moths ecstatic long into the night. (Remember college kids just don’t sleep)
Yes they were texting, but most of them were also updating/checking Facebook, a few were tweeting, two girls bought bathing suits and my daughter sent me a link to a great deal on a new refrigerator. This is the world they live in, and if we’re very smart, this is the world we’ll live in as business executives, marketers and PR professionals.
From a public relations standpoint, the message is clear. It’s imperative that we understand these mobile technologies and the opportunities they provide to reach this on-the-go audience. Implemented properly, the rise of the mobile web provides the opportunity to reach highly defined audiences with very targeted messages to raise awareness for a product or service with measurable results. While it will not necessarily replace traditional media outreach, every plan should include some type of mobile marketing strategy.
So whether for social connection, advocacy, as a personal finance tool or for shopping, mobile web devices allow people to communicate the way they live instantly and in spurts. Cook a little dinner; buy a new dress. Help your child with homework; check your bank balance to make sure you can pay for that dress. No need to sit at the computer. And the Millenials – they wouldn’t consider it.
Have you adapted to this on-the-go communications? For me, in business I have, but personally – my BlackBerry has replaced the lighter at concerts when hoping for an encore, functions as my flashlight because I can never find one, and yes, it provides countless hours of entertainment when on a camping trip next to a cabin that wants to party all night. When I really want to get anything done, I sit at my keyboard with letters that I can actually see. Works much better for me.