Social Mobile Local (SoLoMo) and the Value of Connection: You Can’t Afford Missing Pieces.

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Have you ever been close to finishing a puzzle only to discover there are one or more missing pieces? Isn’t it interesting how the smallest missing piece can distort the bigger picture?


Connecting Social, Mobile and Local

The power of SoMoLo is found in integrating the three, social, mobile and local, disciplines. Like putting together a puzzle, fitting these pieces together properly will reveal a larger picture; a new space of opportunity is revealed when all the pieces are connected.

Unless all three elements are connected there will be missing pieces, as a result you’ll never get big-picture clarity.  Assembling the pieces of this puzzle is no easy task. It’s necessary to discover how social, mobile and local work seamlessly … and the perfect fit just isn’t accomplished with a one-size-fits-all approach.

Marketers must be familiar with the characteristics of each element of this puzzle. These characteristics must be continuously analyzed; because they are based on human behavior they are constantly in motion and ever-changing.

To stay up-to-date in this moving trilogy, Marketers must keep a constant focus outside (on the customer) as well as take a look within (your own organization). So before jumping into the 3 pieces of the puzzle, I’ll outline two critical characteristics that’ll define the make-up of each of the puzzle pieces: customer knowledge and culture.

Intimate Customer Knowledge

Most marketers have a pretty good idea of their target customer. This typically takes the form of demographics and other characteristics. But do you know your customer’s daily behaviors and habits? Nike Plus understands their target customer is a 17 year old who spends more than average on shoes.

Nike has spent time and resources understanding the social behaviors and habits of this group. Because these characteristics are not static, this is a continuing effort which has significant cultural implications for Nike.

You may be able to describe your target customer, but do you know what their challenges and expectations are? What about their alternative choices to your offering? How can you add value to their experience?

Developing Customer Insight Through Personas

To get in touch with your customer you might consider developing personas.  A persona is a representative profile of your target customer.

Personas put a face to your target audience, helping you avoid the temptation of projecting your own ideas and opinions onto the target audience. Read more about Why Personas are Essential to Effective Marketing Strategies.


Nike created a whole new division to develop technology products–not shoes or athletic wear. Don’t miss that. Nike created an entire division, one that isn’t composed of shoes or athletic-apparel. This new division of Nike focuses on technology products. Why? To connect the target audience to Nike’s core products.

You may not be ready to create new divisions, but are you ready to ask probing curious questions? Is there an atmosphere in your organization that encourages discussion and debate, the healthy kind?

Most organizations are structured by function, and while this is often necessary, it can create a focus on task that can lead to a lack of alignment and ultimately cause a poor customer experience. Not to mention, the possibility of untapped potential.

Often there is a lack of coordination due to poor internal communication. Companies spend significant resources carefully crafting communications to customers and prospects, but fail to take into consideration internal communications.

Internal competition among functional areas can result in little cooperation and sharing, which affects innovation, collaboration, and once again the customer experience suffers.

While gaining customer insight and making the internal cogs function smoothly is important, making connections is key. And with today’s SoMoLo (social, mobile, local) customer, connecting points are endless. Taking the pieces apart, or dissecting consumer behavior into social, mobile and local is one way to discover how you can reconnect the pieces in order to create a customer focused connection that is just the right fit.


Consumers have always been social. Now, however, they have a plethora of platforms to facilitate social interactions. Socially connected consumers are more empowered than ever; for example, they help each other research purchase decisions, promotional offers, and even share ideas on the best use of your product or service.

These new behaviors have significant implications for brands. Traditional marketing broadcasts a stream of messages intended to create a favorable brand impression in the consumer’s mind. Now consumers trust each other more than they trust brands.

But this doesn’t mean consumers don’t want to hear from brands; they expect relevant communications. Today brands have an opportunity to listen to consumer conversations. There are free tools that facilitate this activity; for example Social Mentions, or Google Alerts. Paying attention to conversations and topics can serve as an early warning for issues or concerns; they can also be the source of new ideas or provide a pulse on the state of consumer sentiment. Read some excellent communications advice from fellow contributor Judy Gombita.

Those brands that do have a social presence can create reputation challenges by not responding to comments. Monitoring and responding to comments requires specific skill set and experience. It’s important to have social media policies and guidelines in place to provide guidance for colleagues. Having an emergency plan in place is another important piece.

Organizations can create or facilitate consumer communities. Nike Plus has developed communities of consumers connected to each other sharing their passion around sports performance. By creating a site for these activities, Nike has enabled consumers to challenge themselves and each other.


With the continuing penetration of smart devices, having a mobile friendly site is now simply table stakes. Organizations that aren’t pursuing mobile strategies risk becoming irrelevant in the not too distant future. Failing to humanize your brand on mobile is often another key missing piece.

As Nike has illustrated, mobile isn’t just phone or tablets, it can include other technology. The new line of Nike products use GPS enabled bracelets to track and monitor physical activity. You may think of other technology that can provide added value and utility for your customers.

Walgreens has integrated the mobile experience to make filling prescriptions more convenient for their customers. Ordering a new prescription, refilling an existing one, transferring from a competitor and finding out when the order will be available can all happen from a smartphone or tablet. Now approximately 40% of Walgreen’s prescription business comes from mobile technology.

Walgreen’s offers applications and mobile web sites so their customers can choose what is most convenient. Often there are multiple interactions across channels for one transaction. Walgreens is constantly monitoring and evaluating mobile activity so they can adapt and stay relevant.

Do you have a mobile strategy? Are you monitoring mobile activity using tools like Google Analytics? What are your competitors offering? These are just a few questions that can help you begin or fine tune your mobile offering.


Both Nike and Walgreens pay a great deal of attention to this piece of the puzzle. Today there are specific platforms that allow brands to reach customers where they are. But local goes beyond merely thinking about promotional offers through apps like Foursquare.

Local represents utility to a consumer, it’s where they are most closely connected to your brand. Nike understands that finding a local running route is an essential part of the customer experience.

Walgreens tailors store layouts to local preferences, but this is only part of the story. Mobile and social strategies are coordinated to add value to the customer by adding utility to the interactions. Foursquare happens to be a platform Walgreen’s uses to offer in store promotions to their customers.

Putting it all together

Although I have addressed each of the SoMoLo (social, mobile, local) elements, it’s important to understand that the real power is connecting each of these pieces together. Without all the pieces in place, the big picture clarity is impossible. Each of these elements has implications for the other areas. The Land of opportunity is where you will find today’s empowered consumer.

Each piece of the SoMoLo (social, mobile, local) puzzle can retain its identity, but each element must be connected in order to maximize the customer experience, which of course will ultimately result in a more loyal and profitable consumer. In fact, ideally these consumers will become advocates for your brand.

So where do you begin? Recently I helped conduct a workshop for a large CPG organization. They were challenged with creating a new product offering. Just getting representatives from each of the functional areas in the same room was progress. But, what made the day even more profitable was watching a group exercise unfold. The group activity was designed to bring life to the customer experience by creating and analyzing a customer persona from different perspectives. Actually putting yourself into the role of another really gives hands-on experience, walking in their shoes for a day.

At the end of the day everyone had a much clearer understanding of the challenges and issues central to the end buyer; this type of insight enables developers to catapult product development decisions to higher ground and postures Marketers to be customer-centric.

Today’s consumers are SoMoLo. Social, mobile, local. In what ways have you attempted to walk in your target consumers’ shoes for a day?

Joe Ruiz
This monthly Social Customer Experience Marketing column is contributed by Joseph Ruiz. Joseph is President of Strategic Marketing Solutions, a full-service marketing and consulting firm specializing in web-based integrated Relationship Marketing. Joseph thrives on the ever-changing nature of marketing in the digital age, embracing interactive opportunities, while applying three decades of hands-on expertise in online and traditional marketing. When he’s not helping business-makers navigate through complex marketing challenges, Joseph enjoys reading, working out and traveling just about anywhere…anywhere you can get a digital signal, that is. +Joseph Ruiz
Joe Ruiz


Integrated Marketing Strategist, Client Engagement Building, Cultivating Thought Leadership, Birdwatching Junkie
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