Live from OMMA Social: Adding Mobile to Your Social Strategy

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Jun 23, 2009
More Articles by Janet


This first panel of the afternoon was “Adding Mobile to Your Social Strategy”, moderated by Jim Shilale of 2ergo and featuring Neil Edwards of Cellufun, Casey Jones of Mocospace, Sean Rosenberg of RCA/JIVE Label Group, and Miriam Warren of Yelp.com.

Is there a social media void that needs to be filled with mobile?

Neil said that many social media apps work today on phones, but there are still apps that need to be further developed. Internet on the phone is different than it is on the Internet on your desktop because of a multitude of issues, such as carrier rules.

Casey said that many of their users are choosing between a laptop or a phone and are more often choosing a phone. A phone is personal and belongs to just them.

Sean added that an address book is the basic social network on a phone. The basis is there. The question is how do you branch out on mobile from there?

Miriam said that Yelp began as a regular website that was taken to the mobile platform. Their goal is to create a good application and allow users to share information. During the week, the traffic on the website is highest during the work week, but the traffic on the mobile platform spikes on the weekends.

What are the monetization strategies?

Miriam said Yelp is not monetizing the mobile site today. Yelp’s website is monetized by ad revenue, so likely monetizing on the phone will likely be in that vein. However, that is not the focus for now — the focus remains on building engagement.

Sean said that the ecosystem on mobile is so different and can cause you to have to give up much of the revenue to the carrier. So there are challenges in monetizing content on mobile. The goal for mobile has now shifted into interaction with perhaps less focus on monetization.

Cellufun (Neil) uses games and ads for monetization. There is a rewards program as well to earn virtual currency. He believes that transactional revenue will dwarf mobile ads for the time to come.

How do you see messaging and mobile web working together for discovery?

Casey said that most of Mocospace’s users come from word of mouth and that those referrals convert well. The phone lends itself well to sharing content with the ability to share video and photos.

Miriam agreed about the content itself for uploads. Neil said that on mobile, it’s not one thing that wins the day. It’s engaged activities that incite users to invite their friends, and that experience is highly specialized.

Sean said that social and mobile lend themselves to being able to share new artists with friends.

What is the biggest challenge in mobile/social in the next 6 months?

Sean said there are just so many services out there, and each one tries to be specialized. What will the sticky networks be vs. flavor of the month?

Casey said that he sees the biggest challenge authenticity. They need to go out of their way to stay authentic — that it continues to belong to the users.

Miriam said it is likely keeping up with the community. It’s tough to keep up with the community demands for mobile applications or functionality.

Neil said that for him it’s keeping the content relevant to the users, for instance supporting better touch screen integration. He believes that mobile web is better than mobile applications.

25% of Traffic from Mobile Comes from SmartPhones — Mobile Web or Mobile Apps?

Neil says that mobile web gives you 100% ubiquity. Downloadable apps have their place, but they are often stovepipe apps and you spend a lot of money to market them.

Why an either-or strategy? Neil experimented with mobile apps, and found it was not as easy to find as the mobile web versions and that mobile web can be accessed from any type of terminal — phone or pc. Casey agreed with Neil’s strategy. You can access the mobile web from an iPhone or a smartphone — not just one or the other.

Yelp has both an iPhone app and a mobile web version. Neither gives you the whole online Yelp experience, but Miriam said that they are still evolving. The first goal was to allow users to upload and contribute data from the phone. She said 25,000 photos have been uploaded to Yelp since that functionality was added on the iPhone app a few months ago.

Sean said that dollar for dollar, the ubiquity comes from the mobile web. Apps are often erased after a day. Sean feels that SmartPhone users are the hungriest for his type of content. He didn’t really see the need for apps for social networking.

What’s the next big thing?

Neil said that the next big thing will be openness of apps and mobile currency. Casey agreed that mobile currency is the next big thing — some sort of online currency to make payment via mobile easier. Neil added that advertising will likely be in game or in app.

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