Mobile Social Networking Is the New Black


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I have just returned from three wonderful days co-chairing and presenting at the IIR Mobile CRM & CEM conference in Monaco. I left cold, rainy Düsseldorf, Germany on Monday morning to arrive in hot, sunny Nice, France in the afternoon. The glorious weather stayed with us round the corner in Monaco for the three days and a great time was had by all.

Mobile telcos are facing the same challenges that most other companies are facing: Customers have a long-tail of choices available to them, are more demanding, are willing to pay less and if that wasn’t bad enough, aren’t paying any attention to formal marketing communications any more. Instead, they are looking to the Internet for their information and to each other for recommendations. Social networks are disintermediating the marketing department as fast as you can say antidisestablishmentarianism!

But unlike most other companies, mobile telcos know exactly who is taking to each other through the call data records (CDRs) they collect for billing purposes. As you can well imagine, many of them are already experimenting with social network analysis (SNA) to better understand the customer calling communities that exist within their customer base. The early results are very encouraging. For example, working with Xtract, a leading SNA consultancy, Swisscom was able to use social behavioural targeting to increase the uptake of new products by over 90%. That is pretty impressive when you think that most new products fail in the market place both the first and second time they are introduced.

But the real excitement is around mobile social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn; that you would typically access on your PC, but that you can just as easily access on your mobile phone. Mobile social networks bring together the influence of social networks with the power of multi-sided markets (a multi-sided market is one where someone brings together thousands of suppliers and millions of customers who would never normally meet each other, as in on eBay or Amazon). A case in point. When Facebook recently opened its doors to advertisers, 100,000 of them created friend pages almost overnight. 100,000! That’s 100,000 advertisers that you can start to have a dialogue with, mediated by friends’ socially-networked recommendations and powered by the multi-sided market on your always-on, always-with-you mobile phone.

Mobile social networking is the new black!

Want to know more about mobile social networking? Then visit the Communities Dominate Brands blog or the blog.

What do you think? Are mobile social networks going to dominate eCommerce? Or will they also succumb to the tragedy of the marketing commons?

Post a comment and get the conversation going.

Graham Hill
Independent CRM Consultant
Interim CRM Manager

Graham Hill (Dr G)
Business Troubleshooter | Questioning | Thoughtful | Industrious | Opinions my own | Connect with me on LinkedIn


  1. I don’t think mobile social networking is going to dominate the eCommerce applications because these are kind of independent directions. Though these two can definitely ‘overlap’ each other. Any marketer would love to have a whole lot of social network users available for marketing campaigns leading them straight to the eCommerce sites. And similarly, eCommerce can form some minor-scale communities around their products/services.
    So, social networking and eCommerce (mobile) do not counteract but supplement each other.

  2. Yury

    Thanks for your comment. It is much appreciated.

    Things are changing. How fast and how far remains to be seen.

    What we do know is that mobile usage around the world is now much greater than PC usage (in countries like Japan PC usage is actually falling). That Generation-C is shunning the tethered PC in favour of their mobile phone. That services like NTT DoCoMo’s iMode put thousands of shops in front of mobile phone users. And that the recent arrival of on-mobile banking, in some cases directly through the mobile phone bill, will free users from having to shop through a PC at all.

    It will be an interesting journey.

    Graham Hill
    Independent CRM Consultant
    Interim CRM Manager

  3. I agree with your fashion sense about mobile social networking. But it will take more than accessing static social networks from cell phone browsers for consumers to really take notice. The service providers will have to make good on implementing consumer-oriented location based services, which has been on the verge of happening (hopefully, this time for real), along with real-time “presence” status. With these in place, you’ll have true mobile social networks, which can be built around shopping, cultural and political events, and multi-player games, to name just a few. Then retailers can trigger on, say, your tags, pushing out special offers when you’re near a store that sells a favorite caffeine beverage. Or you quickly check your iPhone to see if anyone in your LinkedIn network is also at the concert. Obviously, marketers will gain additional insights into consumer behavior from these dynamic networks, and they won’t necessarily have to wait for CDR data to be collected and processed (though that will also contain useful information). We’ll just have to wait and see what 2008 brings.


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