SoLoMo: Your Buzzword for 2012

Early contender for 2012 Word of the Year

I ended 2011 by taking a look at the Millward Brown and Dynamic Logic (Disclosure: Both agencies are part of WPP, as is my employer, Y&R12 for 2012: Top 12 Digital Predictions for 2012 report and want to pick that up as there was a lot of good thinking in there. Prediction #5 takes a look at mobile marketing.

If nothing else, marketers love a catchy name.  If you don’t know SoLoMo yet, you will soon. As the report notes, “The most successful marketing messages will combine relevance and location with the right timing.” SoLoMo is a portmanteau of Social-Local-Mobile and speaks to the rapid advancements in geo-targeting and the equally rapid adoption of smart phones as the essential device of the 21st century.

Jennifer Okula, the essay’s author, also notes:

We will see increased SoLoMo marketing prevail in existing geo-social apps like Foursquare, Shopkick and Yelp. Retailers will experiment more with geo-fenced mobile marketing with companies like Placecast. Social buying companies like Groupon and Living Social will become more app-focused and provide push content and alerts on real-time local deals.

This is where I see the real value. Brands need to make themselves relevant in the existing behaviors of people. Getting discounts at places I’m already going through mobile apps I’m already using is real value.  However, Okula goes on to state:

Brands will create more of their own apps that tap into both geo-location services and social networking.

This is where I get nervous. When brands try to create their own apps they can run into several problems. First and foremost, they aren’t in the app business.  The resources, both human and financial, that go into creating an app is something most companies don’t have. Then, once you create and publish the app, you have to promote it heavily. Second, brands need to think long and hard about whether people really want an app from them. What real added value is there? Is it enough to get me to use the app in addition to the other ones I’m using?

SoLoMo will be a buzzword in 2012, but like most buzzwords, it’s likely to be misused or misunderstood. The opportunities here are great, but a thoughtful strategy is required.