American Marketer


3 key strategies for engaging social-mobile customers

December 12, 2012

Marko Muellner


By Marko Z. Muellner

There is no doubt that luxury retailers are no longer dipping their toes in social marketing. They are driving unique programs that tie together their brand promise and the unique marketing capabilities of social media.

And while we have seen some great and creative campaigns this year, a common area where luxury retailers could improve – and set a standard for others to follow – is how these programs come alive for social-mobile audiences.

More than 50 percent of people accessing Facebook are on a mobile device and that number continues to grow.

Twitter users are similarly mobile and Pinterest's mobile experience just gets better and better.

In fact, Luxury Daily recently reported that consumers spend 30 percent of their time on mobile devices on social media sites compared to 20 percent from personal computers. Creating rich experiences for mobile-social users is no longer optional.

But before we dive-in, there are some key nuances we must address when talking about social-mobile marketing.

First, tablets are more like desktops/laptops than smartphones. This goes for the form and function as well as for how people use them. Generally, when we talk about mobile, we are talking about smartphones.

Next, smartphones are task-oriented environments. While users will explore and watch videos, for example, they usually tap on a post only as a quick detour, intending to return to their streams as soon as possible.

Finally, social is the best avenue to reach mobile audiences. Search, banners, even email use pale in comparison.

Extend your reach with Facebook advertising that promotes your best posts and drives users to mobile-optimized experiences. Reserve a few media dollars to promote each time someone shares, likes or comments as these are the most effective ad units in social today.

Three tops
So, what can luxury digital marketers do to engage social-mobile customers?

1. Allow fans to participate with – not just on – their mobile devices. We have seen many contests this year where brands such as Mercedes and Tag Heuer invited their Facebook fans to submit photos of how their favorite products participated in their vacations.

While a few allowed consumers to submit Instagram or Facebook photos, none made it easy to enter from smartphones.

Taking and submitting photos has become a basic function on mobile devices and consumers love to do it.

Consumers love to make little videos, record audio, write a little bit, download and play music, play games and watch videos on their mobile devices as well. The contests and promotions should encourage this next level of participation.

Additionally, mobile content, when uploaded, is usually geo-coded, which means you can place it on a map. Tag Heuer did a great job of using location to make its contest special. Do not go overboard, but make it clear you are considering mobile contexts.

2. Phones are the most intimate personal device, perfect for unparalleled service. Have you ever handed you phone to someone either to have them look at a photo or take a call? It is scary, right? There are few devices so personal.

If someone explores your campaign on a smartphone through a post in a social stream, you should welcome them with all the intimacy they have come to expect from your brand.

Invite them to sign-up for special sales, exclusive events and private showings. These fans or friends of fans are your most valuable customers and prospects: give them big love.

If they have looked at specific products, let them save to a wish list so they can easily bring them up next time they are in the store or on the Web site.

3. Curate the entire experience. Let me ask you a question. When you are on your phone, are there certain things you just will not do, and certain things you will?

For example, most people will not fill out a full set of ecommerce checkout forms, but they will tweet something they like. Similarly, they will not pick up the phone if they do not know who is calling, but they will post a picture of their new watch to Facebook.

Simple. Social. Service. These are the key rules of thumb for engaging social-mobile customers.

Every time you set out to execute a campaign that includes reaching social-mobile customers, make sure you are thinking all the way through the experience.

Someone has tapped on a post or an ad and she is ready for what you have to offer. Make sure you have thought through all the elements, from beginning to end:

• Share, comment and like/follow

• View multiple pictures, read details and reviews, watch a video and listen to music or an interview

• Email/SMS, opt-in, application download and related products

• Add to wish list, save cart/cart reminder and pick-up in store

SOME OF THESE suggestions are easy and others require considerable technical or organizational effort.

Regardless of what you and your team are willing to take on, you must at a minimum consider, and ideally cater to your social-mobile customers.

With 50 percent of all U.S. consumers now using a smartphone, mobile customers cannot be ignored in your marketing plans, and social is the best path to mobile engagement.

Marko Z. Muellner is senior director of marketing at ShopIgniter, Portland, OR. Reach him at