SoLoMo: social, local, mobile: The truth and opportunity

My alarm clock woke me up today 30 minutes earlier than usual. It was a bit of shock. But then I realised that it had linked to the traffic road reports and found out there were traffic jams on my usual route to work; so it knew I’d need longer to get to work. When I got in my car, it drove me a different way than usual as it had communicated with the road infrastructure and found an unusual amount of potholes in the roads and didn’t want to get damaged. As I entered the staff car park at work my coffee pot automatically turned on in my office. It knew I’d need a cup of strong coffee after my early wake up call. I met Bob in reception and congratulated him on the golf trophy he had won. I didn’t know anything about Bob’s performance until I received details of it through my contact lens. My emails had started downloading by the time I got to my desk, the spam had been automatically removed and the obvious replies to emails had been made. In fact, my job was done, so I drank my coffee and called Bob to see if he wanted a game of golf.

Ok, that was not actually my day. But sounds good doesn’t it? But there could be elements of truth to the story if technology keeps developing in the areas of social, local and mobile. These three themes, which have wincingly been called SoLoMo for short, are the most exciting areas of development in digital communications. When working together, they offer unparalleled opportunities for relevancy in messaging. As brands, we can know who someone is and what they are interested in at the exact moment and place in time when we can have the biggest influence. Exciting times.

So we shouldn’t sell these opportunities short by thinking of social as a Facebook page, local as a 50% off coupon and mobile as an iPhone app. Of course these things can be relevant, but to really take advantage of what SoLoMo has to offer, we should be more imaginative. Some brands are doing so:

Draftfcb used SoLoMo in a geo-fencing activity earlier this year. “Geo-fencing” is setting up a virtual perimeter for a real-world location. When a person enters the geo-fenced area then a location-specific message can be sent to that person. One of the brands Draftfcb worked with was MilkPEP. Areas around places of exercise were geo-fenced and people who entered the areas were given messages to generate awareness that chocolate milk is an ideal post-work-out option for replenishing fluids. This was content that the recipient could then respond to and share.

Another example is the Ushuaïa Beach Hotel in Ibiza. They allow guests to share their offline Ibiza experiences using RFID wristbands and Facebook screens. Guests were given the wristbands by the hotel and simply by holding them to the screens, people can share their social experiences on their Facebook walls.  So people can make their friends jealous by being at the right place at the right time.

But it’s not just B2B brands that can use SoLoMo. Draftfcb has created a mobile conference tool for Roche Pharmaceutical that is helping it connect more closely with healthcare professionals. The tool works across all devices from BlackBerrys to iPads. It provides useful information such as conference schedules and event directions. But it also allows healthcare professionals to network and socialise while at the location of the conference. This is encouraging debate around data released at conferences with the aim of fostering better understanding and quicker adoption.

We know more than ever about our target audiences, not just as consumers but as individuals. And the technology to help us deliver relevant experiences is beginning to get interesting. Rather than just doing the usual “me too” activities brands all have an opportunity to create new conversations with their audiences. It’s time to try some things, be brave and as Mark Zuckerberg would say “move fast and break things”.

Martin Talks (@talksy) is president digital of Draftfcb UK and global digital lead