Facebook announced Facebook Home last week, and today it launched on a handful of Android devices.
We’ve been saying it for years now, but this latest move from Facebook should leave no uncertainty: mobile is the most important battleground for brands and social media.
Ecosystem within an ecosystem?
Home places Facebook front and center on your phone. Messaging, SMS and even phone calls (on some devices) are routed through Facebook’s experience. I fully expect that Twitter and Google will fire back with competing installable Home-like experiences that will place priority on their services.
What we’re seeing is the beginning of a smaller battle within the Android ecosystem: installable skins designed to favor of one social media platform over the other.
No advertising plans…yet.
Facebook had nothing to announce regarding advertising in Home. Ads are definitely coming, but for now Facebook is likely focused on getting users to install Home and watching user behaviors to improve the experience.
Consider Instagram—after a year of Facebook ownership, there have been a few tweaks, both good and bad, but no mention of an advertising platform…yet.
Get your mobile “Home” in order.
What can brands do today? Take a look at your social content plan. Are you using vivid images that make an impact in a mobile stream? Are your messages clear and memorable? Do your links and videos work on mobile phones? These are the bare essentials. When Home and its inevitable competitors are opened up to brands, content that is designed for mobile will shine.
Even though brands can’t come into Home yet, the message is loud and clear—your social media strategy should already be putting mobile consumers first.
If you drove by T3 Austin headquarters in the wee hours of Saturday morning, you might have noticed all the lights on. We didn’t forget to shut down for the week, but instead to open the doors to developers competing in the official SXSW HackATX all-night hackathon competition.
Competing teams were given access to 23 enterprise-level 7-Eleven APIs developed by T3. The goal: develop new and innovative ways to provide digital convenience.
After a kick-off party at T3 Austin headquarters, a group of experienced developers settled in for a night of coding and creativity to help 7-Eleven re-imagine convenience. We provided caffeine, snacks, T-shirts and development advice. On the line were bragging rights and cold, hard cash.
The night was fueled by a creative spirit, plus lots and lots of hard work from the 27 competing teams. After a sleepless night of coding, 10 teams were asked to present their ideas to a panel of judges. Sean Devlin and Team Doo emerged as the overall winner. His SMS-centric app focused on the convenience of reaching as many 7-Eleven customers as possible. With a simple text message to a dedicated phone number, mobile customers using his app can find the closest 7-Eleven, current promotions, available services (gas pumps, Redbox, etc.) and directions.
Winners were chosen by a panel of industry-leading judges based on a combination of functionality, design and presentation.
“We want to thank everyone who participated and competed at HackATX,” says Pamela Crosier, T3 director of Creative Development. “It was exciting to see such a collaborative spirit coursing through this place overnight. Great fun, great work.”
Core themes about mobile emerged at Stanford University’s recent Future of Media Conference, prompting this attendee to share some thoughts on mobile.
It’s clear that mobile-led thinking is becoming a rallying cry across media types. The rocketing popularity of mobile platforms (smartphones and tablets) over the last couple years has not only impacted the way people communicate, but also how they consume media. Most publishers and producers have seen the percentage of mobile users accessing their content accelerate from 5–10% upwards to 30–40%; in some cases like Twitter or Facebook, well over 50% are mobile users.
People today are far more willing to engage in dialog and sharing, ecommerce and even creating their own content on mobile devices. Media providers of all stripes are recognizing the need to supply a rich and useful experience through these platforms to match this consumer demand.
This rising demand for mobile content underscores a huge challenge. Developing mobile-optimized content experiences is way more complex than merely offering re-sized screen dimensions and lighter weight delivery systems. Variations in operating systems, screen resolutions, bandwidth access and processer speeds complicate the space even further. Because of mobile’s growth, designing for this fragmented array of platforms and ensuring a robust, useful and engaging experience has become a leading issue instead of a trailing one.
Mobile up makes sense.
The idea of mobile as a leading issue is becoming serious business. During the conference, Facebook claimed to have revamped their internal organizational structure to incorporate mobile expertise into all groups, rather than having a separate mobile team. This ensures that mobile and desktop experiences are developed in tandem, and each to its own strengths and limitations, rather than designing for one and repurposing for the other.
Indeed, it would actually be easier to design for mobile and repurpose to the desktop, where there are fewer constraints and technical permutations to address. In much the same way that Twitter character limitations often make crafting a well-written tweet harder than a free-form essay, designing for mobile requires a sense of economy and precision that can be more difficult than web development.
Both organizational and marketing models will be challenged to adopt this new orientation to consumer behavior. Breaking the inertia of workflow process and organizational design can be very difficult and pose real business problems for some companies. But this trend is continuing to escalate and the fragmentation of how people access content is now the norm that all facets of the media and marketing landscape must contend with. And the sooner it’s addressed, the better.