Mobile! Chocolate! Social!

Sharing has gone mobile. This isn’t surprising — the whole Internet is going mobile, and sharing with it. Mobile sharing increased 30% in Q2 2014, per ShareThis. Forget the future. Mobile is here now. As such, marketers must shift the way they view user experience and customer interaction.

This shift requires more than a superficial (but necessary) change to responsive web design. It means thinking in terms of authentic, approachable content. It means a user experience of discrete moments woven into the fabric of consumers’ everyday lives. So let’s talk about chocolate.

chocolate

Why? Because it’s delicious. And because I read this Advertising Age piece about social media strategy at Mondelez International, the food and beverage giant. Mondelez last year began creating a series of one-off posts that created a larger narrative thread for Cadbury, its brand that brings you the Cadbury Creme Egg. You know the Cadbury Cream Egg — the chocolate shell wrapped around the taste of childhood as morphed into sweet goo vaguely resembling an egg white.

The thought behind the strategy, per Mondelez Europe’s head of social and digital media, was that digital marketing doesn’t mean “following consumers around and bombarding them with messages.” She wants her brands to fit in with existing consumer behavior. People, she said in the article, are “…choosing when they want to engage with us. We just need to make sure that we are there and fitting in with what they’re doing.”

This jives with the thinking from Josh Bernoff, Forrester Research Senior VP, Idea Development, who in Forbes writes “Smartphone owners have learned that their phone is an answer machine. It tells you where you are and where you’re going, whether the product you’re looking at on the shelf is cheaper at another store, and whether that sub sandwich is going to put you over your calorie budget. It helps you.”

Marketing and selling in that environment just doesn’t fit, he explains. Marketers need to think about utility marketing, or “marketing that is so useful, people would pay for it,” according to author Jay Baer. “If you’re going to fit in with what’s going on on the phone, you’re going to have to be useful,” Bernoff writes. As examples he notes apps from Starbucks, Columbia Sportswear, and Krispy Kreme. Starbucks’ app provides “pick of the week” music downloads. Columbia’s includes a knot-tying guide for its outdoorsy audience (helpfully, it doesn’t require a mobile connection). Krispy Kreme’s app pushes a notification when a nearby store has hot, fresh doughnuts. (That one’s my favorite, which also tells you that I am not in the target audience for Columbia’s knot-tying app.)

Because the Internet connections in our pockets enable more natural, organic experiences than do the computers on our desks, consumers now reach out to brands whenever and wherever they feel the need to based on what’s happening around them. Marketers no longer control these moments, so they must make the most of them when they come. For referral marketers, that means prominently promoting the program on mobile and making the referral process as seamless as possible. This way customers can refer friends quickly and easily, then get back to the world around them. Referral marketing also doubles the value of the “mobile moments” when customers reach out. They become opportunities to satisfy an existing customer and to acquire new ones at the same time.

Whether they use a referral program or not, marketers need to accept that mobile is different. That means giving consumers content that fits more naturally into their lives — their real lives, in the physical world, beyond the desktop — and being ready to make the most of the moments when consumers interact with it.

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