Met up with Alan Rambam, Fleishman-Hillard’s youth and mobile marketing guru yesterday. We learnt about what was being done in the US and other countries such as location-based messages, SMS, MMS, Twitter and too many others to mention.
My main thoughts are that what’s successful in the US cannot be transplanted wholesale in other countries, and vice-versa. This we all agreed on. The next question is which CAN be adapted successfully and this has to be a case-by-case basis considering the country and the organisation involved.
Also, Asians are more shy than Westerners and are less likely to come forward if they have a disease or condition that has been stigmatised in their culture. So marketing strategies involving user-generated content or at the very least, personal testimonials, have to be tactful and respectful of privacy.
I was pleased to hear about Twitter being used, but it would be better if we had a local number for Twitter. Where regular use is asked of us, cost will be a concern. Unless of course we again depend on the wireless internet.
Another point we all agreed on was that in Singapore, a lot still depended on our own mobile phone packages. I am on GPRS and my bill shot up after getting the iPhone because I was checking mail etc in places without wi-fi. No way am I going to download some MP3 or video file on my handset.
I was amused to see WAP sites being presented. WAP feels so passé in developed Asian regions. Even if some of us don’t have 3G, more likely we’d use Wireless@SG and a phone browser to view web pages.
As for apps designed for handsets, I feel we have to cater for too many different platforms, whereas for the Web we just need to comply with Web Standards. Browser detection can help to adapt our web pages for mobile devices, so there is no need to design a separate site in many cases. But of course many of our local vendors don’t know or care about this, and charge clients extra because it’s seen as doing two websites.
I also feel that while Singaporeans can own more than 1 mobile phone each, and many have 3G connectivity, not many of us fully utilise this. There was a news report on this last year, if I recall correctly. Most of us still use it for SMS and calls instead of video conferencing or downloads. We thus need a behaviour change. Alan’s example was getting the American public to vote for their favourite Idol contestant via text. 40% did so for the very first time.
I am also interested to see how things may change once the iPhone officially comes to Singapore. We should actually start designing Apps for the iPhone already, using Apple’s SDK. But my suggestion a few months ago was pooh-poohed because of the belief that it would take a while to catch up with other handsets. I am not too sure about that and will try again via other channels.