Final Blog – Digital Activism: it’s current and future role in causing social and political change

25 04 2011

In recent years, with the rise in popularity and use of social media, we are now presented with a new view on social activism we have never seen before, probably better recognised under the term ‘digital activism’. The invention of web 2.0 has given a whole new edge to socialising online and “The Internet is now about interactivity and conversation” (Gladwell 2010). This online revolution has allowed the ‘hypermedia campaign’ to be born, which allows simultaneous communication exchanges across vast outlets, enabling the “demands of the postmodern media, the 24/7 news and the global online audience” to be met (Erickson and Lilleker 2010 pp2). This ability to communicate and form campaigns on such a large scale certainly suggests that social media can cause changes.

But can digital activism currently cause political and social changes?

One view taken on digital activism is that of Zeynep Tufekci (2010) who believes, in terms of social and political issues, “the scale of our biggest problems is global”. I agree entirely. Major issues facing humanity in this day and age are generally global such as the economy, climate change and resource depletion.

So, can digital activism cause changes on a global scale?

Zeynep Tufekci (2010) believes it can by stating, “our natural scale of sociality is local, and the social web can bridge the gap.”

Unlike traditional activism, the web provides people with the ability to socialise globally, but still they don’t necessarily go beyond a localised level. Even if we did socialise on a global level, changes caused by digital activism would be unlikely because of the existing digital divide. Not all areas of the world are fortunate enough to be digitally equipped and freely access the web. In fact, only 28.7% of world population use the internet (World Internet Stats 2010). Government control also becomes a restriction in some countries. During the Libian/Palistainian conflict, Egyptian government on 27th March 2011, cut internet access in Egypt, preventing the use of Facebook and Twitter, the key communication tool for protestors (Al- Atrush 2011). Restrictions even goes as far as people fearing the use of social media. In some countries, as little as creating Facebook group, could end you up imprisoned. In India, a 19 year old student created a community called ‘I hate Shiv Sena’, resulting in convicted for criminal intimidation and hurting religious sentiment (Mishra 2009).

‘Strong ties’ and ‘Weak ties’

Another view taken on the topic of digital activism is Malcom Gadwell’s, which when published in his article “Small change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted”, generated much interest in the blogosphere. He stresses that digital activism can only make small change if any, as networks (online) are systems of weak ties (Gadwell 2010). In contrast, hierarchies (offline) are systems of ‘strong ties’ which are what is required for true activism to happen (Gadwell 2010). The point Gadwell is trying to make is that networks have the ability to get a mass of people to click a button to join an activist group, however effective social movements require people to make sacrifices achieved from building strong bonds between people, which he believes can only be gained from hierarchies. So basically, Gadwell (2010) believes social media can perform small tasks such as being able to socialise with friends, and not larger tasks involved in causing social change.

Supporting the view of Gadwell (2010), Carol and Hackett (2006) believe the focus of digital activism is maximising profit and market share, which welcomes weak ties whereas traditional activism focus on getting the message out, which encourages strong ties. Madrigal (2010) also supports Gadwells view saying, ”very few major activism projects succeed through Facebook or Twitter” (Madrigal 2010).

My initial response to Gadwells article was to believe different as I understood that social media could form ‘strong ties’. It was the student fee protests I wrote about in week 7 that inspired me to take this view, as a mass protest was successfully organised using Facebook and Twitter. However my view changed once I read the blog of a student protestor stating,

“a large number of people who had attended the rally went to Trafalgar Square, for a bit of an unofficial afterparty with music” (Succo 2011).

From reading this, what Gadwell (2010) was saying became clear to me. Despite social media gaining a mass audience for the protest, how many protestors represented ‘strong ties’? My guess is very few, as most protestors probably attended for social reasons.

 

 

 

 

 

From reading further into digital activism, it became even more apparent that what Gladwell says, is the truth.  According to Micah White, 80-90% of members of online groups set up by activists, rarely open campaign emails (Guardian 2010). Coming to think about it, I’ve lost count how many times I have clicked ‘join’ to a group in support of a friend even if it doesn’t interest me or to get rid of it from my requests.

Though it’s pretty clear that social media alone cannot currently make radical social or political changes, Mishra (2010) expresses the value that social media provides to activism. Social media is a tool which helps traditional activism in developing some strong ties and maintains strong ties as a whole (Mishra 2010).

The future

Currently, it is apparent that the social web is under used. Although everyone can become creators of information online, “90% of all users are consumers,” 9% are curators and only 1% are creators (Mishra 2009). Madrigal (2010) view is that currently, the tools within social media are new and people don’t have the bravery and dedication to use it with confidence. However he says over the next decade, he won’t bet against “powerful movements developing through social media” (Madrigal 2010). Supporting this, the Economist (2010) states “Perhaps we haven’t observed clear evidence of its revolutionary potential yet, but this shift alone seems extremely promising”.

On a global scale, digital activism have already been attempted such as when 350.org on October 24th 2009,  organised over 5200 efforts in 181 countries in attempt to change people’s attitudes towards emissions (350.org 2011). This signifies that there is clear potential on a global scale for digital activism to cause change, further strengthened by the many scholars who believe the digital divide gap is narrowing.  Communication is improving globally especially mobile phones being adopted by developing countries, most quickly in “sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia” (Joyce 2010 pp47).

So with these promising scholarly views and global digital communication improving, who knows what the future holds for digital activism? Maybe it will become the new cause of significant social and political changes.

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References

350.org., 2011. Our team history. Available from:http://www.350.org/story [Accessed 17 April 2011]

Al-Altrush, S., 2011. Internet, mobile phones cut as Egypt braces for protests: Key communication tools used by protest organizers have been severed. Available from:http://news.discovery.com/tech/internet-cut-as-egypt-braces-protests-110128.html [Accessed 16 April 2011]

Gadwell, M., 2010. Small Change, Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted. Available from: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/04/101004fa_fact_gladwell?currentPage=all [Accessed 17 April 2011]

Guardian., 2010. Clicktivism is ruining leftist activism. Available from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/aug/12/clicktivism-ruining-leftist-activism

Internet World Statistics., 2010. Internet Usage statistics: The Internet Big Picture World Internet Users and Population Stats. Available from: http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm [Accessed 17 April 2011]

Joyce, M., 2010. Digital Activism Decoded- The New Mechanics of Change. International Debate Education Association: New York

Lilleker, D, G and Erickson, K., 2010. Campaign Websites and Hypermedia Campaigning: Lessons from the Ed Balls Labour Leadership Campaign 2010

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Madrigal, A., 2010. Gladwell on Social Media and Activism. Available from:http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/09/gladwell-on-social-media-and-activism/63623 [Accessed 17 April 2011]

Mishra, G., 2009. Digital Civil Society Initiatives in India: Vote Report India. Available from: http://www.slideshare.net/cfp2009/gaurav-mishra-digital-activism-india-cfp-060409 [Accessed 17 April 2011]

Mishra, G., 2010. Social Media and Social Activism: Six Reasons Why Malcolm Gladwell is Wrong. Available from: http://www.gauravonomics.com/blog/social-media-and-social-activism-four-reasons-why-malcolm-gladwell-is-wrong/ [Accessed 17 April 2011]

Succo., 2011. First hand account of 26th March. Available at: http://blogs.londonmet.ac.uk/su/2011/03/29/first-hand-account-of-26th-march/ [Accessed 18 April 2011]

The Economist., 2010. Can you social network your way to revolution? Available from: http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2010/09/information [Accessed 18 April 2011]

Tufekci, Z., 2010. What Gladwell Gets Wrong: The Real Problem is Scale Mismatch (Plus, Weak and Strong Ties are Complementary and Supportive). Available form: http://technosociology.org/?p=178 [Accessed 17 April 2011]





Week 8 – WKD, Giving Social Media a Wicked Side

28 03 2011

Social media such as Facebook, has become a popular medium for brands to perform their marketing efforts. Bovens (2008 pp 3) talk about ways in which the government use social advertising to influence behaviour by “providing us with information or by affecting our emotions”. Brands can also do this just as effectively. An example of a brand which had this effect on me was WKD, the alcopop brand. Their social advertising made me want to try the brand’s drinks as I was intrigued as to whether it would actually allow me to experience a so called, ‘wicked side!’

WKD is also a brand that makes much use of social media in terms of its marketing. In October 2010, the brand launched its 12 week Facebook marketing campaign, “Win Nothing”, involving a series of online films about “Wayne, a fictional WK employee who has run off with the company’s promotional prize fund”(Kimberly  2010) Every week, a video diary was launched by Wayne, to taunt people with clues as to where he could be. Facebookers were then encouraged to attend bars for a chance to earn rewards.

I personally thought this was a brilliant idea for a marketing campaign as its original, encourages sales and keeps consumers interested in the campaign and essentially the brand, by running a series of online films with a storyline. From an ethical stance, the campaign is likely to be viewed as exploitation of consumers and an encouragement of excessive alcohol consumption. However no complaints were received and the campaign ran its full length. A likely reasoning behind this is that the CAP code had not yet been enforced. Before the CAP code was realised on March 1st 2011, the law was pretty loose  in terms of what companies could do for their online advertising. However, since this date, brands who now advertise online within the UK, must comply to the rules of the CAP code  in addition to the more established laws, ‘freedom of information act’ (2000) and the ‘data protection act’(1998).

Till Grüne-Yanoff and S.O. Hansson (2008) Preference Change: Approaches from Philosophy,

Economics and Psychology, Berlin and New York: Springer, Theory and Decision Library A,

Chapter 10.

WKD social media campaign to follow rogue employee

Sara Kimberley, campaignlive.co.uk, 12 October 2010,

http://www.brandrepublic.com/go/news/article/1034324/wkd-social-media-campaign-follow-rogue-employee/





Week 7 – Facebook and Twitter: the public sphere and digital activism

20 03 2011

So, what is all this public sphere talk about?

Answering this question is not the easiest as various contradicting views exist on what is defined as a public sphere.

The most accepted definition to date is that of Habermas (1989) who defines a public sphere using 4 criterions:

  1. Public spheres are spaces of discourse, often mediated.
  2. Public spheres often allow for new, previously excluded, discussants.
  3. Issues discussed are often political in nature.
  4. Ideas are judged by their merit, not by the standing of the speaker.

However, despite these contradicting views, it is agreed bewtween scholars that there is a clear link between the public sphere and the internet.

Facebook and Twitter: the public sphere and digital activism

Facebook and Twitter are best described as multiple sphere frameworks as they consist of many public spheres. It would be incorrect to call them public spheres as they are made up of many of what Dahlgren’s (2001) calls “issue publics”, publics formed around issues of interest. Facebook and Twitter consists of several issue publics due to users of the social media varying in terms of demographics, geographical location and lifestyles to name a few.  Despite both sites not being public sphere, they do expand on Habermas (1989) is concept, by allowing the public to freely engage in political and social discussions. This has allowed the trend of digital activism to emerge.

Digital activism

A brilliant example of how Facebook and Twitter have been used in such a way, is the protest against the rise in student fees, which took place on the 26th of march this year.

The protest proved effective as Facebook and Twitter allowed a large mass of protestors to be easily informed in a short time frame.  Despite being a public event, organising a protest using these social networks proved effective as information could be targeted specifically at students as opposed to telling the public as a whole about the event. Approximately 52,000 students (Guardian 2010) attended the protest, which was clearly not expected by the police who were responsible for keeping the protest under control. Instead they “were criticised for failing to anticipate the scale of the disorder” (Guardian 2010).

Shown below are a few of the many persuasive tweets which were posted on the ‘ed activist net’ twitter page in the build up to the protest, and helped gain the participation of such a large mass of protestors.

Twitter and the Police were impacted

Although the use of social networking helped tremendously in organising an effective activism event, it also proved to have a negative impact. Days after the protest, a news article(http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/dec/01/twitter-student-protesters-accounts) was released stating, protestors suspected that twitter were in favour of the police as they were unable to access the main protest twitter page, #demo2010(link).

As well, the police received damage to their reputation from various blogs which were written primarily by students. Consistent critisim was seen across a range of blogs including comments such as “the police were extremely heavy handed with people who were not breaking the law” retrieved from a London metropolitan student blog (http://blogs.londonmet.ac.uk/su/2011/03/29/first-hand-account-of-26th-march/).

Social media improves the effectiveness of activism

With the ability to share links to material such as news articles and videos offered by websites such as YouTube and various online newspapers it has allowed further enhancement on the effectiveness of digital activism. In the case of the student fee protests, various YouTube videos of the protest were shared on Facebook and links to various newspaper articles on the topic such as the guardian were used by people to post on their walls and walls of their friends.

Attempts to form a public sphere through digital activism

Spurred by the continuing conflict between Israel and Palestine and opportunities withing digital media, ‘iConnect: Isralelis/Palestinians’ was created, a facebook page attempting to encourage people from both countries to see the real perspective of each other, which is currently mediated by media, military, agencies and the government. Additionally it was formed to generate discussion from the rest of the world and allow them to acknowledge the reality of the conflict, first hand, form the people themselves.





Week 6 – Promoting Products and Privacy Issues

12 03 2011

Promoting products online can sometimes prove challenging for business for various reason. Knowing where best to promote products is a common problem faced by organisations. Should businesses promote their products online using their own website, other websites or a combination of both?

Making the choice of promoting primarily through their own website can sometimes prove more cost efficient as advertising space costs are avoided, however promoting in such way can prove tricky. A business could set up a really interesting and attractive website with highly enticing incentives to purchase products and yet sales from the website will be low. You are now probably thinking to yourself, ‘but why is this?’

Creating a website is one thing, but getting people to visit your website is another. In the digital era we live in, gaining traffic to a website is becoming increasingly difficult due to the vast number of other website owners trying to do exactly the same thing. Unless a business advertises their website on other websites or/and materially, then the business depends primarily on search engines for traffic. Doing this can be prove difficult to do well, as i mentioned in last week’s blog.

Although receiving traffic to the website is crucial to promoting products, receiving rewarding traffic is even more important. It’s no good having a website which is flooded with traffic, which generally have no interest in the products being promoted.

Companies which are successful in receiving lucrative traffic to their website generally promote their products using other websites which are reputable and receive a wide audience.

A prime example is Facebook, which receives 500 million active users (http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics)

Promotion through Facebook

Facebook is a very lucrative advertising medium for several businesses globally not so much because of the wide audience it receives, but because it tailors its advertisements to each user. For example, shown below are the advertisements which appeared when I logged into my Facebook this morning.

These adverts were presented on my profile page because I meet the criteria of the intended audience of the ads. Using the information that Facebook hold about each individual, the distribution of adverts is based on whether or not users meet the criteria of the intended audience.

For example the Adidas, “You call the shots” ad is shown on my Facebook as I am considered to meet the intended audience criteria. The likely reason for this is that Facebook acknowledged that I have an interest in football as I have stated it as one of my interests on my profile.

Ebay and its product promotion strengths

When promoting products, some business and individuals choose to use reputable websites only such as Ebay. Ebay is a highly popular website where products from cheap phone covers to luxury super cars are sold every second, day-in day-out.

Denegri-Knott (2010) in her journal, “Have it now!”: eBay and the acceleration of consumer desire, explains how Ebay is so successful in promoting products. Alongside its outstanding reputation as a brand and the fact that it features pretty much any product a consumer could want, Ebay’s technology combined with desiring consumers is what has allowed the site to be so successful in promoting products.

Denegri-knott (2010 pp22) states,

“a desiring consumer and eBay technology sustain each other, by transforming the contours of what is desired, and generating possible “new bridges” or by co-producing a chain of concatenated objects of desire to help achieve an idealised state of being or a perfect collection.”

Ebay forms these so called ‘new bridges’ and ‘co-produced chains of concentrated objects of desire’, using various marketing techniques.

When searching for a product using the eBay search bar, depending on the keywords that are entered, eBay suggestions are prompted to the consumer. For example, if a batman enthusiast is looking for a batman figurine and types in the keyword “batman”, a range of batman related products are prompted such as” lego batman” and “batman costumes” which may also be of interest to the consumer.

 

 

As well as this technique, Ebay is also strategic in prompting products once users have searched for products. An example of this is when I was using Ebay myself a couple of days ago to search for various branded t-shits. Once you have began searching for products, eBay prompts products to you by displaying related products to your searches under the heading ‘Suggestions for you’. As you can see below, after searching for various branded t-shirts, Ebay suggested other branded t-shirts i may be interested in.

 

The debate of Privacy

These are highly effective marketing techniques which generally prove far more effective than generic promotion as consumers feel more valued when presented with marketing, which is personalised to them. However, although targeted marketing is effective in promoting products, there is continuous debate as to whether it diminishes the privacy of website users such as Facebookers and eBayers.

…………………………………………

Denegri-Knott, J., 2010. ‘Have it now!”: eBay and the acceleration of consumer desire. In: European Conference of the Association for Consumer Research, 30 June-3 July 2010 , Royal Holloway, University of London

Acceleration of consumption process-

Ebay- prompts suggestion eg.) put in Sindy and letter h after it “sindy h” such as sindy houses and sindy horses

“I just put in Sindy and then if you put a space and then “h”, then it would bring you the options of horse, house.  I was going to buy a Sindy caravan but that went for stupid money.  There was a tent as well.  I never had the tent when I was little and there’s a swimming pool.  Yes, if you just put like Sindy.  I think you have to put another letter, don’t you, before it brings up the list and then I put “s” for swimming pool and of course clothes you put in.  I just went mad once.  I went through a real addictive phase of going and looking at Sindy things”.

Use of customer data-

Facebook customises advertisements to the intended audience

Ebay use accelerates the cycle of desire through three key practices: the quick acquisition of desired items, the removal of moral consequences attached to purchases and the temporary ownership of digital virtual representations of desired goods.





Week 5 – Google Analytics and AdWords

4 03 2011

How often do you use a search engine?

Your answer to this question is most probably, “pretty much every time I use the internet.”

When you use a search engine though, how likely would you venture past the first page of results? Most people tend to say “unlikely” and many say they wouldn’t even look beyond the top three results. Due to this online behaviour and the ever increasing number of websites available on the internet in the digital world we live in today, it has become intensely competitive to rank highly in search engine results.

To be shown in the top results for keywords entered by search engine users, a webpage or website must be rated higher than web pages and websites also containing the key words entered. “The rank of a web page for certain queries on the most popular search engines determines their online visibility to a large extent” (Pan et al. 2007 pp10) which therefore, significantly reduces the chances of reaching lucrative internet users.

According to Pan et al. 2007, highly ranked wed page:

  • Has the keywords searched by the user in the Universal Resource Locator (URL)
  • Has the keywords searched by the user in the link anchor text
  • Has large font size for the keywords and uses them frequently on the page


Search Engine Marketing

Although the competition of reaching consumers online through search engines is fears, there are many tools which are freely available which can significantly help those looking to get the most out of their website.  Google analytics and google Adwords are among the most popular of tools which are used by a diverse range of well know companies including Dolby, Agency.com and Yelp.

To illustrate how these tools can benefit an organisation, I have chosen ASDA as an example.

Google analytics

Search engine optimisation

Asda is ranked 2nd in the supermarket market, behind Tesco, who dominate the market, with a share of 30.8% (Guardian 2010).  Despite being ranked as 2nd in the market, when relevant key words such as “leading supermarkets” and “best supermarkets” are searched using Google, Asda fails to appear on the first page of results. As well, talking in general terms of relevant keywords (excluding the company’s name), it is apparent that it’s rare for Asda to appear higher than 8th on the results list. Out of the keywords which were searched, “food shopping” and “food stores” were the only words where ASDA appeared in the top 3 results.

In relation to competitors, it is seen as consistent for Asda’s competitors to appear higher up in the results list in comparison to Asda, particularly Tesco. For example, when the keywords, “supermarket offers” were searched, Asda did not even appear on the first page of results, whereas Tesco was displayed first and Morrisons 7th in the list.

With the help of Google Analytics, Asda could shorten this gap between where it is ranked in relation to its competitors. Google analytics allows you to identify what keywords visitors are using to reach the website. For example, if Asda identify particularly strong trends in the use of particular keywords then they could prioritise featuring these words frequently on their web pages and in the link anchor text. This is one of many features which can provide benefit to companies. others exist such as helping companies to efficiently spend their advertising budget by tracking email campaigns and banner ads as well as sales and conversion. Google analytics may show that poor conversion rates exist for email campaigns. Asda can then act on this and perhaps limit their attention and investment to email campaigns and focus their efforts on more lucrative marketing methods. Also Multimedia tracking is another feature which could help Asda significantly. If google analytics show that the majority of visits are from mobile devices then marketing efforts could be priorited to that mediaum to maximise sales.

 Google AdWords

Currently Asda makes limited use of Google Adwords in contrast to competitors such as Tesco. When keywords such as “supermarket”, ”supermarkets”, ”grocery shops” and “food shopping” are searched using Google, a Tesco advertisement appear in the Google ad column (shown below) whereas limited advertisements show for Asda, only appearing once when the keyword “grocery shopping” was searched.

As an attempt to improve sales and increase its market share, Asda should perhaps consider using more of Google Adwords. Asda could use trends identified using Google analytics to their advantage, to decide upon what will best attract Google users to click their ad. For example, if reports gained from using Google analytics show that the majority of customers are returning customers then the Advertisment could consist of an incentive to encourage purchases by new customers.






Week 4 – Competitive Advantage and the Importance of Both Seamless Brands and Communication

27 02 2011

Companies in many markets especially those in industries such as supermarkets, insurance and car manufacturing are constantly searching for new innovative ways to gain a competitive advantage.

Companies can gain a competitive advantage by conducting consumer centred research. However what is there that stops competitors from doing exactly the same thing? The answer is nothing! Gaining a competitive advantage in this way is generally short term as competitors soon form similar products or services to compete.

So you are asking yourself now, how do companies gain long-term competitive advantage?

Well, one answer to this is ‘Radical Innovation’(also known as design driven innovation). According to Virganti (2009), radical innovation ‘is one of the major sources of long-term competitive advantage’ (pp 3). Radical innovation is when a company proposes a new product which has a different and unexpected meaning. As mentioned in the reading, a good example of this type of innovation is the launch of the Nintendo Wii, a game console which involves physical activity as opposed to being stationary sitting on a sofa.

Another effective ways of gaining a competitive advantage is to ensure a brand is seamless. ‘Clarity over creativity’ is believed to be the key to a successful brand.

There are many companies who fail to be seamless as they lack consistency in their brand image. A Common weak point of many companies, which occurs online is the point when you click a link on a company’s website and you are displayed with the generic, dull ‘404:error message’. Not only does this page look cheap and tacky, but when consumers are told they cannot see a webpage, they are generally displeased and it may encourage them to develop negative perceptions and potentially leave the website.

Therefore, to maintain the reputation of a website and brand, it is vital that companies customize their error message pages to prevent them from having such a negative impact. Several approaches have been made by companies as an effort to customise 404: error messages ranging from formal once to humorous ones.

This customized 404:error message (below) by the times online, with a humours character to it is one of my favourite. Although simple, it has a big impact, putting a smile to my face and to many other faces who came across it I’m sure.

Another one that i think is particularly good is IBM’s. Although more formal, it communicates that the company care about its customers and tries to rectify the problem by providing a list of possible solutions.

Seamless communication

In many industries seamless communication, has helped companies develop a strong competitive advantage, Shanghai general motors’ being one of them. Shanghai General Motors’ demonstrate how seamless communication can be used as an aid to improve service delivery. In 2006, traditional communication (voice calls) within the company’s wireless network were replaced with a voice over IP system, allowing the achievement of a competitive advantage and quicker responses to market changes. VoIP systems where used alongside Intel® Centrino® mobile technology based notebooks which enabled working efficiency to be enhanced. Efficiency was improved in many ways including increased opportunities for group problem solving, learning and social bonding; reduction of missed calls as the system automatically detects online presence and staff can limit disruption by using the “do not disturb” feature.





Week 3 – Becoming a Key Communication Channel

20 02 2011

The use of mobile phones began nearly 40 years ago in 1973 when Dr. Martin Cooper of Motorola introduced the first handheld mobile phone weighing 2 kg, somewhat surreal if we compare it to our modern day Smartphone. Rapid development in technology has influenced mobile phones to now be seen as one of the most lucrative platforms for marketers to reach their target audience.

There is much evidence to say that 2011 is going to be a promising year for the adoption of mobile marketing as one of the key communication platform for organisations.

This year’s ‘Mobile World Congress’ received a record number of visitors with more than 60,000 visits from 200 countries.

Additionally, according to the ‘Association of National Advertisers’ and ‘Mobile Marketing Association’, in 2011:

  • 88% of client-side marketers say they will utilize mobile marketing.
  • 75% of marketers plan to increase expenditure on mobile marketing projects by an average of 59% versus 2010.

Although mobile marketing is rapidly improving, there is much debate as to whether mobile marketing could be even more advanced in terms of the audience breadth it reaches.

In June 2010, AT & T adapted its pricing strategy by introducing tiered pricing to eliminate its unlimited data plan. According to the Sue Rudd, director of tariff and revenue strategies for Strategy Analytics, Newton Center, MA, strategy analytics projection suggest that that potential expansion of the Smartphone market will be jeopardised because of the tiered pricing. Projections showed that if unlimited messaging and video content was provided to all users, 3.2 million more users would exists as opposed to 500 thousand.

However, on the other hand the tiered pricing will work in favour of marketers as it will provide them with a better understanding of target consumers, identifying their mobile usage patterns based on their price tier.

Challenges facing marketers

For companies operating in developed countries only, challenges are likely to be less likely in comparison to multinational companies that do business in developing countries where technology is less advanced.

For example, Zimbabwe is a difficult county to market within as communication channels are state or privately who are generally obliged to allow international investment. In terms of mobile marketing in such a country, it is unlikely to be feasible as sufficient resources are non-existent. Electricity is limited and mobile phone usage is particularly low, meaning reaching consumer through mobile marketing is not suitable.