If any industry sector is uniquely poised to benefit from the triumvirate of social, local and mobile, it’s the classified listings industry. The last time I spoke about whether do embrace SoLoMo or just embrace social, local and mobile I cautioned against the tick in the box approach and against adopting new technologies just because you’re exhorted to.
But at first glance, a business running classified listings does seem to put all the right ticks in all the right boxes.
Firstly local. Classifieds are inherently local, offering a way for local businesses and individuals to offer … stuff … to other local people. Implementing a local strategy needs your mainstay offering to have a strong geolocation quotient and what could be more local or more geolocation than addresses and postal codes?
Then there’s mobile. Most classifieds businesses have either fully or partially transitioned from print to online and if you already have an online presence, you’re more than half way to having a mobile online presence.
Finally there’s social. Again, there’s a strong affinity with classifieds. Nothing spreads faster than word of mouth reputation and harnessing the power of social media to allow people to say “hey, I just found this really cool stuff” is a compelling case for social.
So when the International Classified Media Association, the ICMA, asked me to talk about SoLoMo at their Social, Local, Mobile: Classified Media Strategies conference in Instanbul last week it was an ideal opportunity to see whether my preconceptions to be skeptical about SoLoMo were borne out in practise or whether I’d just overdone the cynicism a bit too much.
As it turns out, I think it was round about a 50/50 ratio. Most of the classifieds people in Instanbul fundamentally got the basic precepts around each of SoLoMo’s constituent elements.
But there were two major flies in their respective ointments.
Firstly, as with most industry sectors, the classifieds businesses are experts in … classified. They’re not experts in social, local or mobile. They’re far too busy running their business to become experts in anything other than their business. Which means metaphorical toes are dipped in equally metaphorical waters without maybe understanding or appreciating what is meant to be achieved.
Secondly and closely linked with my first point, even if a social, local, mobile or SoLoMo strategy is put in place, it’s still not clear what’s going to be achieved or how to measure success or failure. Many of the classifieds players I spoke to openly acknowledged that whilst they have social media dashboard and metrics in place, it’s a major challenge to interpret a sea of figures and work out what this means in the context of their business area.
I’m still strongly of the belief that if applied sanely and in a way that makes sense for a business, there’s a lot to be gained from social, from mobile and from local.
I’m still equally strongly of the belief that SoLoMo, even if it does have a manifesto, is too vague and wooly to be understood by people trying hard to make their business succeed and needs the basic tenets broken out and explained in language the people SoLoMo is trying to help can understand.
As usual, the slides from my talk, which will be just a tad familiar to anyone who read my last SoLoMo post, are below and my deck notes follow after the break.