SoLoMo…So What?

Should SoLoMo take the crown for Most Over-Blown SEO Concept Ever? We prefer ‘RePePsych…

Few marketing ideas have received as much attention in the last year as Social-Local-Mobile. SoLoMo specialist companies sprung out of nowhere; clients started panicking they didn’t have it without fully grasping what it was. Speculation as to its future importance reached fever pitch with the application of astronomical numbers:

91% of all mobile internet use is “social” related

  • 50% of the 200 million Twitter users are on mobile devices
    • Facebook says that 40% of its users – 400 million people – currently use mobile access
    • Gartner predicts  there’ll be 1 billion smartphones sold in 2015, with a further 350 million media tablets sold by that time
    • The global market for location-based services is estimated to reach $21.14 billion by 2015

Last year, Google waded in with a warning from their Head of Mobile Advertising Jason Spero:
“Roughly one in seven searches, even in the smaller categories, are happening on a mobile phone, but how many of you are putting one seventh of your resources into mobile? It would be like not doing business with your customers on Thursdays.”

Persuasive stuff. There is no doubt that, as separate entities, mobile devices, social media and local search have impacted on the digital landscape. There is no doubting either that together they have a unique symbiotic power. But we have to ask:

  • Is amalgamating all these numbers into a kind of data soup, from which to extract future trends and buzzwords, misleading?
  • Is there a forced causality?
  • Is the primary demographic tapping in to this trinity the customer base most likely to spend?
  • If it were truly the three-headed behemoth we are led to believe, why are Google, Facebook and Twitter not ploughing everything into taming this beast? The emphasis in last month’s flurry of activity was on mobile advertising development, not so much on user involvement
  • As Fred Cavazzo asks in ‘The Truth About SoLoMo’: “How can you create social when everything already is social?”
  • Has the concept diluted into meaninglessness? As the wonderfully titled article, ‘Die SoLoMo Die’ says: “Are you about to release the millionth local deals app? Call it SoLoMo! What about a reviews app? Do the same! An app that lets you find which of your friends are friending the friends of friends around you? Come on baby, do the SoLoMotion!”

 Too Big For Its Boots

Let’s return to the Google quote from earlier (“it would be like not doing business on Thursdays”). What if you noticed Thursday was the day people seemed to drift in and out of your shop but didn’t buy much, and those who did spent low amounts on small, spontaneous purchases. Would you invest heavily in those Thursday customers? It’s important that you make sure they enjoy the experience, in case they later become – or influence – the Monday big-spenders. But should you plough your resources into that group?

Your main goal is driving traffic to your site that will convert into leads. The value of SoLoMo is commensurate with your definition of leads. If you rely on the spontaneous browser-type shopper in real life, then yes, mobile is important. If you are in a service-based consumer industry – restaurant, hotel, bar – then yes, you need to look this three-headed beast square in the eye. If your products or services can be made more appealing by the voucher culture then yes, your target demographic is likely to be one of those people described in the sensational stats above.

But overall, SoLoMo is one small part of the strategy for one small part of online business.


Fur Coat No Knickers?

So how did it break out of the realm of small-scale e-commerce?  Let’s play devil’s advocate…

Is SoLoMo a ‘craze’ because it represents the easy, tangible, do-able elements of a whole lot of other hard work and boring, behind-the-scenes stuff?

Is it attractive to people who want quick results from plucking off some low hanging fruit?

In short, does SoLoMo simply represent a trinity of all that is sexy and appealing – new tech, big stats, shiny profile pictures, understandable metrics like ‘Number of Twitter Followers’ – to SEO-resistant companies?

These are just the first three syllables of a massively long acronym that is called the complete digital package. You can’t have SoLoMo without the unglamorous stuff. Or you can, but it’s the worst marketing strategy ever.

Trust Issues

You also can’t have SoLoMo without trust. This is one of the biggest obstacles to the wider take-up of mobile-based spending, and helps explain why it is currently tied to the smaller, spontaneous purchase culture. Consumers are rightly anxious about security.

Privacy, as Kerry Doyle points out, is another “glaring concern with SoLoMo”, with the American Congress currently considering 26 different bills around wireless privacy issues and user data restrictions.

What Should You Be Doing?

Staying away from catchy monikers! ToDaClo (Touch interfaces, data exploitation and cloud computing) and SoMoClo (Social Mobile Cloud) joined SoLoMo, and surely other marketeer buzzwords are set to join them as the SEO industry attempts further sexy distillation of the more publicly appealing elements of its work – to the detriment of its core foundations.

So how does this all fit into the picture of what you should be doing? What can we learn from a spotlight on SoLoMo? Basically, there’s no faddish hysteria – there’s just common sense.

1. Strengthen your Keyword Strategy: Mobile search queries tend to feature more long-tail keywords, so now is a good time to review your keyword intelligence and see how to appeal to this other segment of buyer intent. Are visitors finding your site via a location-specific search eg “electric bike shop London”?  Then make sure you have clear info on your home page about how to find the store and the added value of an in-store experience, like taking a bike out for a test ride.

2. Develop a Robust External Communications Strategy: It is remarkable how few companies have an effective Excomms policy in place. A lot of clients fear the new wave of social media savvy customers will take to Twitter and other channels, not when things are good, but when they have had a bad experience of your business (or perceived bad experience). Be prepared for this with policy in place and a strategy that is fully understood and implemented across the organisation, and frequently tested, like a fire drill for a brand emergency.

3. Be Ambitious: As Fred Cavazza points out in ‘The Truth About SoLoMo’, “all the quick-win tactics already have been tried by your competitors. So if you really want to use social media as a lever for business and profitability, envision a much more ambitious approach than a viral video or a Facebook Page.”

4. Create Internal Brand Advocates: Want people to say nice things about you on social channels? Want people’s wider circles to think you’re a great brand? Forget Twitter – start with your staff. Create working environments and staff relationships that make every single member of your team into brand ambassadors. This will have much more impact than pleasing a few people on Facebook with a discount product.

5. Content, Content, Content: If you are going to invest anything into your digital marketing, invest it in good high-quality engaging content. No amount of gimmicks, profiles or vouchers will make up for bad, or non-existent, content. Remember the value of leads we talked about earlier? Fish for those higher-calibre leads with higher-calibre bait.

And if you are still hankering after a mnemotechnic, try this one: RePePsych (Relationships, People, Psychology). What – not so catchy? Good. It is dangerous to focus on where your customers physically are and how they are searching, to the dilution of considering WHO they are and WHY they are looking. Be persuaded by the stats, sure – but don’t forget the person behind the number.