SoLoMo: The Newest Buzz Term in Marketing Communications

solomoEvery few years or so, we start hearing a pithy (and sometimes obnoxious) new buzz term in marketing communications.

The most recent entry into the lexicon is SoLoMo – a cutesy amalgam of three terms:  Social Media, Location, and Mobile Devices.

SoLoMo purports to convey the convergence of these three elements into a powerful new driver for marketing:  sparking audience engagement and brand usage via the use of social media, and targeting consumers via their mobile devices when they are locationally proximate.

businesspersonBeyond the inevitable “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” aspects of this term and the “oh-so relevant” connotation it has for those who choose to name-drop it in casual conversation, another drawback I see is the term’s emphasis on tactics rather than on the true meaning of today’s always-connected customers and the potential this offers for relationship-building.

Right now, there are more than a few company and brand marketers who are trying to figure out the best way to have their customers do all sorts of things that will benefit a product’s acceptance and position in the market — things like checking in to a physical location, then taking a mobile picture and uploading it to an Instagram or Facebook page.

This over-reliance on “shiny new object tactics” is what gets marketers to the same place as designing a new and novel app that doesn’t actually fill a true need – and hence becomes an inglorious failure.

Here’s what’s actually going on with consumers today:

  • They have more digital connections available to them than ever before.
  • Because of the pervasiveness of interactivity, consumers expect information to be available to them at any time – and on any device.

The good news is that marketers can establish just these sorts of connections with consumers, simply by using the very same social platforms.  The bigger challenge is making those connections meaningful and relevant.  That’s where effectiveness so often falls by the roadside.

Social media is an “ism” to many marketers … whereas to regular people, they hardly think of it that way.  For them, it’s just another way to engage in their relationships with friends, acquaintances, industry colleagues, fellow hobbyist … and favorite brands.  Other than the digital aspect of the communication, there’s really very little difference from the connections people have established and maintained for years the old-fashioned way.

Location is much more than simply where someone happens to be.  It’s the context of understanding when — and what — the person is doing at or near that location.  Knowing that makes for a more relevant – and potentially profitable — interactions.

Today’s focus on Mobile everything has become almost as myopic as marketers’ tunnel-focus on desktops was a few years back.  Today, we’re dealing with consumers who are perpetually connected.  As for which device, it simply depends on what’s handy at the moment – desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones.  So, strategies and tactics that focus on one or two of these to the exclusion of the others will fall short of the mark.

While we can give an acknowledging nod to the SoLoMo buzz term, the key is to recognize that it’s actually about today’s perpetually connected consumers — and all of the expectations that come along with that.

In other words, marketers need to be people-focused … but tactics-agnostic.

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