At the student
assembly for ninth-grade graduation, my middle school principal
declared that by the year 2000 we would all own flying cars. Perhaps
as remarkable, many of my classmates and I believed him.
I learned two life
lessons from this experience, of which I remind myself regularly.
First, it’s dangerous to predict the future. Second, it’s vital
to understand the present, so as to not confuse it with the future.
example: I hear people refer to the use of mobile devices as “the
future.” Sorry, but this is not correct. Mobile phones,
smartphones, tablets — these are ubiquitous. They are so common
that families are banning their use at meals. Want to impress a first
date? Take out your mobile phone while he or she is talking and see
what kind of reaction you receive.
We love our mobile
devices. We hate our mobile devices. We have a relationship with our
mobile devices. And if you’re not thinking about the relationship
between mobile and radio, you are missing a boat that sailed some
Your first mobile
priority concerns your website.
If your website
doesn’t show up properly on a mobile device, it’s time for an
immediate change. The availability of mobile broadband and easily
accessed Wi-Fi — at work, at the gym, at coffee shops and even over
wide outdoor areas like college campuses — is expanding constantly.
You may not realize
it, but without a mobile-optimized website, you are turning away
audience every day. Furthermore, once someone has a poor experience,
he may not revisit your website on a mobile device for a long time.
Take the time to
research “responsive Web design,” often called RWD. You’ll
learn how this technology sniffs out the device and properly sizes
content from your current website to be delivered into a consumer’s
hand. For the budget-conscious, RWD also means you will not have to
change your workflow.
In most cases, your
mobile design will require a different look than your traditional
website. It’s essential for navigation menus to be bigger, buttons
larger and a search box located easily. You should feature only your
most significant content on your mobile site. It won’t hurt to pore
over all the content for search purposes, but that doesn’t mean you
need to link from your navigation.
But wait … aren’t
companies now building separate mobile sites that are completely
different than their main websites?
Yes, this is an
emerging trend, and it may make sense if you have underwriting from
sponsors or funding from listeners as is the case in public radio.
Building and operating a unique mobile website has a huge impact on
workflow because it means operating two content management systems
and double-posting a lot of material.
THE SEXY WORLD OF
Now that your mobile
Web plan is in motion, let’s dive into the sexy world of apps! I
love ‘em, and my bias is to state emphatically that radio belongs
in the app game. In fact, I can’t imagine some formats — such as
news — without at least a basic app.
Why? Because an app
assures your most upwardly mobile (forgive the pun) audience that
you’re ready to serve them with the best technology and become a
permanent part of their mobile screen top experience.
Innovators in the
mobile app space are creating app home screens that link to pages
that actually reside on the mobile website. Most users will likely
not notice that they are actually being moved off the app and into a
mobile site. The click-through is quick, and if the look is the same,
it’s difficult to tell that this transition even occurred.
This type of
development cuts down on costs and reduces technical issues. It also
drives more page views/impressions to your mobile site, enabling you
to sell better-integrated advertising.
BEGIN AT THE
Now, budgets being
what they are, if you’re going to launch just one app, where do you
Android dominates in
widespread use (as well as app downloads, for now), but Apple has its
hard-core (oops, sorry, couldn’t resist) advocates and heavy users.
I’d go Android
first, then iPhone, and then move on to tablet development. A side
benefit is the ability to push alerts directly to the consumer
through the app. This drives app use and has the potential (if not
abused) to drive listening to important events.
BACK TO BASICS
What other mobile
basics could you be missing?
Although no longer
the media poster child, SMS text messaging should continue to be an
important part of your mobile communications plan. Radio needs to be
offering news, weather and sports (score) alerts to mobile phones.
Text messaging still has an amazing open rate, partly because it’s
hard to miss a text message on your phone if both visual and audio
alerts deploy when texts arrive.
A big shout-out to
those in the industry who continue to work with phone manufacturers
to get radio reception chips into more phones and tablets. When I
listen to streaming radio on my phone, it reminds me a bit of using a
transistor radio. Sometimes the past does collide with the present!
more of Mark Lapidus’ Promo Power column at radioworld.com.