Do Social Enterprises Need Mobile Strategies?

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    It’s amazing how fast mobile devices have taken over our lives. I’ve had my smart phone for only a few months, but hardly a day goes by when I don’t ask it for advice. This past week alone, I looked for child-friendly restaurants, a “green” dry cleaner, bus routes, airline tickets, and a car rental. Sure, I have a computer, and I use it all the time. But if I’m waiting for a meeting, or stuck in traffic, or eating lunch alone, or waking up in the middle of the night, or waiting in a doctor’s office, or – OK, you get the idea — you’ll find me looking at something on my phone. And so are a lot of other people.

    Including your customers.

    Last year, global smart phone sales grew 63%, exceeding PC sales for the first time. About 75% of consumers reported buying things using their phones. Among nonprofits, 70% have or are planning a mobile friendly version of their website, and 57% plan to optimize their emails for mobile devices.

    Should social enterprises be doing the same thing? Yes, ASAP.

    What are mobile strategies? I divide them into three categories. First, and easiest, reconfigure your emails and newsletters to be easily read on smart phones, especially iPhones and Androids. Secondly, and a bit more expensively, create a mobile-friendly version of your website, so when people start looking for your company, they can read all about your products and services on that tiny screen.

    Finally, and most expensively, you can create your own app. Fortunately, that’s not mandatory like having a web site. So I would suggest first finding out what’s already available. For example, I led a team that recently created a new app, Social Impact, which “finds” local retail social enterprises in the US and abroad. It’s for customers who want their purchasing to reflect the change they seek in the world. If yours is a retail social enterprise, you’ll want to be listed in Social Impact. More info from the App Store or

    Finally, before jumping into mobile, I would encourage you to ask a few questions. First, are your target customers using smart phones? Secondly, how would mobile fit into and reinforce your other marketing efforts? And finally, how will you measure results? What matters is not how many Followers you have, but how many customers you have. That said, the odds are you’ll risk losing customers if you don’t develop a mobile strategy.

    I know this may seem overwhelming, especially if you’re a smaller social enterprise. To promote your company, you need a newsletter, a website, social media activity. And now a mobile strategy? Really? Well, yes, I am saying that. The reality is that social networks are becoming the threads that connect us with information and with each other, and mobile devices are increasingly becoming the pipelines those threads travel on. More than half of social media usage is already happening through mobile devices. So if your social enterprise won’t fit into those pipelines, it won’t get through to your customers.

    Good luck!