A Clear Path To Context

Context gets a boost this year with the proliferation of location aware devices. The idea of using crowd-sourced information with the added layer of location aware intelligence makes me very excited.  It is not only smart, it also provides the ideal tools for context and relevance. Yet, many remain stuck in the mindset of ‘Get loads of people to sign up and figure out how to make money once we have critical mass.’”

The visible layers of social media can be so shiny that they end up distracting us from their deeper application. We all recognize that ‘overt’ social media is a critical element. If there were no people out there sharing information, participating and making it available to everyone, we would have no crowd to source from.

The deeper layers don’t always get as much attention. The collection of data and its sorting into useful information registers on people’s minds, but it is often overlooked. It’s a case of ‘out of site, out of mind.’

Listening and monitoring are a bit deeper, sure, like the sedimentary versus surface. There are many organizations great at customer service, sourcing and developing leads, discovering new markets and even developing new products by monitoring keywords and engaging.  There is a good level of online conversation around this topic.

We all talk about what’s next for social media. What is going to be the next Twitter or the next Facebook? Is FourSquare going to last? These questions all have some bearing on the future of social media but, for me, these are the wrong questions. The quest for the social media business model involves a combination of the visible, the sedimentary, and a third, deeper level that is seldom seen, but rather experienced.

A lesson I learned many years ago is that the quickest route to a sale, or an achieved objective, is to remove as many obstacles from your customer/audience as possible. Thinking for your customer is key. Putting the information they need in front of them as quickly as possible will increase your chances of achieving the sale. The lesson that followed shortly after was not to expect your customers to thank you or to notice how clever you’ve been (your sales figures are your thanks). Do expect them to notice when you mess up and do expect them to lose interest if you put obstacles in their way.

Using technology to understand exactly who you audience is, where they are, when they are interested in hearing from you, what steps you can cut out and what information to put infront of them isn’t some sort of ideal, it is what smart organizations are doing.  Location based technology, attached to a profile, or connected to an objective or call to action is much bigger than a game, it is a marketers gift.

This is what social media can do for you. This is where you are going to see your ROI. People’s expectations have evolved and we have the technology and tools to meet them. “This is who I am. This is where I am. Serve me up relevant information.”  Get that right and you are that much closer to reaching your objectives.

It may not be shiny. It may not be sexy or achieve as many column inches, tweets or inclusions in the ‘Top Ten viral campaign” blog posts, but it will cut through all the noise, and put you in front of the right people, at the right time, and in the right place.

What’s your next big thing? What do you think is going to be a game changer?