How to monetize the coming collision between mobile and social

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Social media is pushing the adoption of mobile web in the US.  (Twitter happened because of the iPhone!) Everybody put your helmets, shin guards on and brace for the impending collision between mobile and social.

This year mobile internet useage is up 110% nationally and 148% internationally. Gartner predicts that within 3 years web enabled phones will outnumber terrestrial internet connections and within 5 years mobile surfing will exceed terrestrial browsing.

So . . . if you’re using a social network you will soon be doing it mostly via a mobile device. (Facebook users are already at 25%.) This is an easy leap simply due to the Pavlovian usage of text messaging and the the constant innovation of Twitter with image uploads (Twitpic), video (Seesmic) and augmented reality (TwittaRound). This also places location based services and geotagging (user generated such as Foursquare) at the forefront of the changes. This means that a businesses like Brightkite are perfectly placed for this evolution. I suspect that someone like Facebook will end up acquiring them and tying all things social together; who you are, what you’re doing and now, where you are.

The opportunities to monetize social/mobile (app/Internet) are numerous and can be overwhelming:

  1. Situational advertising – time/location/behavioral based – I know that every morning you get coffee at the Dazbog in Bel Mar. I send you an offer for a new blend of coffee they’re offering. (I know you drink coffee because, I’ve seen you tweet about it.)
  2. Search – location/contextual – You’re in Chicago and search for a steak house on your mobile. An ad shows up for Morton’s and then presents you with the option to call and let you set up a reservation.
  3. Mobile advertising – Doesn’t work: .30% click through
  4. Subscription – pay to access the social network or content
  5. Banner advertising – most likely in app and this works well now but may soon plummet
  6. Freemium – My favorite and lets the user pay a subscription fee OR be subjected to ads and granted access to the social network/content in exchange. Chris Anderson had some great things to say about the Freemium model.
  7. Social Advertising – Think of Facebook’s “testimonial” model based on physical location
  8. In-app eCommerce – buy something through the application
  9. Application purchase – one time fee for the application and seems to less and less free apps in Apple’s app store
  10. Conduit marketing via geotagging and location based services – people tag it and then businesses create location based services to tap into the “marker” that was placed
  11. Mobile coupons – received through loyalty programs or location based services
  12. QR codes and the the social aspect – I scan a QR code and then share it with my friends who may be interested in the product/service. This is another form of conduit marketing and now that Google is backing it, it will become more prevalant.
  13. In-store display/mobile interaction – this could be “the other type” of augmented reality enabled through a mobile phone with a special offer at the end.
  14. Influencer advertising is something that already exists on the social networks and this can be similar to the Mayor concept on Foursquare. This model finds the most rabid fans that the most follow and then utilize their personal brand to market to others.

If you can’t figure out how to make money off of the coming social/mobile changes; please reread this post.

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I'm an Associate Teaching Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I'm currently focused on artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, biking, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive and/or surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and the art that tattooing has evolved into.

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