At a recent Chase Small Business Insights Seminar at the Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles, social media visionary and speaker Eric Qualman shared his insights on the future of social.
Qualman started the chat with stunning statistics about Mobile, which he called “The Heartbeat of the New Economy.”
Qualman states that mobiles outnumber people, a trend that will continue, with iphone sales outpacing births. Did you know that more people own a mobile than a toothbrush? And that 90 % of all tweets are from mobile, but companies spend less than 1% on mobile?
How about the fact that 70% of mobile searches lead to action in ONE hour, while it takes one month on desktops? I was most stunned by the fact that the average person has their mobile in reach 14 hours a day. ..basically, every waking moment.
Got your attention, didn’t it?
In the video, Qualman also shares that Google mobile searches are up 400%. During a recent press conference, Google announced that they just turned 15, and that they are just getting started. Did you know that most of the conversation centered around mobile? If you read their post on Inside Search, Google’s official search blog, notice how most of the entry and the discussions focused on improvements to mobile search, Google Now, and voice search for mobile. Hummingbird, the Knowledge Graph, and providing conversational search are all centered around making answers available quickly and at your fingertips. Google has their pulse on Mobile, and so should you.
Having established Mobile as the future, Qualman continued to discuss Social and how the two are like the two wings of a bird…you need both to fly.
For the last 10 years, our search for products and information has been very rudimentary. You want to learn more about a product or service, you distill that question into a short query, as simple as possible so Google can understand, and then you investigate those results, looking for the most relevant answers.
As mobile becomes more intrinsic to how we operate, products and services will instead be pushed on us by our friends and people we follow on social. Everything will be rated, and we’ll rely on our social networks to “grade” products and services so we can make decisions based on their feedback. Even individuals will be rated. Think of Linkedin Endorsements. If your friends have all endorsed a specific dentist, and this dentist has great reviews, you are far more likely to visit this dentist than one you don’t know anything about.
Qualman gave an example about Klout to illustrate how online influence is affecting the offline world. At Fashion Week New York, certain parties were reserved for people who had a Klout score of 70 or above. Think of a future where companies can target influencers based on Klout scores, and give them access to perks and special offers based on their influence and reach.
To keep their pulse on this rapidly changing digital landscape, companies have to get on the social mobile bandwagon. Qualman stated that the best way to do this is to Listen, Interact, React and finally, Sell. The order is key, as he suggests that trying to sell without the previous steps will result in a rupture of trust. Companies need to join the conversation, listen to what their customers are saying, and interact with their customers on their preferred platforms.
As an actionable point, Qualman suggested creating a Listening Report, where you follow conversations around your brand, both positive and negative. Negative feedback should not be buried; companies should REACT to this information, help customers, and use this as an opportunity for growth.
As an example, Qualman showed how the Red Cross transformed this disastrous blunder:
Into something positive:
After their graceful response, the Red Cross got massive positive attention which resulted in an increase in donations.
Having encouraged companies to keep their pulse on social, Qualman then focused on video marketing. He stated that Youtube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world. Youtube can be used as a content marketing platform to help customers and to inform. On the foundation of helping and providing people what what they need, sales will automatically follow as people appreciate the information and learn to trust the brands. Providing assistance is an indirect way to sell, but the ROI is definitive.
Helping can also happen on Twitter. By monitoring hashtags, keywords, or lists, companies can chime in and give people the answers they need. He suggested that companies should go out to relevant online communities and HELP!
Qualman then encouraged companies to be Flawsome. Mistakes will happen, but the sooner they are made, the sooner companies can course-correct and evolve. Showing a very simple video of a company teaching users how to replace a battery, Qualman stated that it doesn’t have to be sexy, it just has to be Effective.
Instead of creating complicated content, the key is to SIMPLIFY. With tiny screens, you have to make tough decisions that lead to greater performance following the 80/20 rule. Qualman stated that 20% of all searches today will be brand new. And as conversational search grows and queries become longer and more complex, this trend can be expected to continue. Since mobile and social go hand in hand, forget about complicated content; instead focus on simple, helpful information.
Qualman concluded the seminar by talking about future trends. He mentioned how Amazon is now offering same day delivery, a trend that will change consumer expectations towards instant. Stay focused on how these changes will affect your industry, and REACT. Next, he discussed the Google Glass project and the future of wearable tech, one that Amit Singhal addressed at the Sept 2013 press conference.
“Google will keep reinventing itself to give you all you need for a simple and intuitive experience. At some point, pulling out a smartphone to do a search will feel as archaic as a dial-up modem.”
Amit Singhal, SVP of Search
Wearable tech will give us real time information about the people and products around us. Imagine the near future when you can look at a product, and your wearable device will tell you if the price is comparable, how your friends rated that product, and suggests other alternative products if that one has low ratings?
Qualman concluded the talk by stating, “Don’t boil the ocean”. Pick a couple of platforms where your customers hang out, and perfect that strategy first. Once you are confident that you have mastered this platform, then move on to the next one.
I had a chance to catch up with Eric at the end of the session, and asked his views on how Google Plus fits into the Social Mobile Marketing landscape.
He answered by stating that he believes that Google Plus will only continue to grow and in the future will be one of the most active social platforms. With Jobs’ death, he feels uncertainty towards the future of Apple, and as Android penetration grows and Apple declines, more people will be inclined to use a phone that integrates with most of the services they use.
On an android platform you can have Google Now, Gmail, Google Drive, plus of course Google Plus. With Hangouts being the evolution of Facetime and other amazing features such as automatic image uploads and sharing, slowly people will migrate towards Android phones that unify their online social presence. Still wondering whether you should be on Plus?
In an entertaining, enchanting style, Qualman illuminated the future for businesses to survive and thrive in the digital landscape. Combining both insights and actionable tips, Qualman laid out a road map for digital success. Survive and thrive with your pulse on the Social Mobile Economy!
Marcela De Vivo
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