Tag Archives: Mobile Marketing

ChaCha on! Use free cell phone texts to settle bets and get smarter

Yesterday, comments in a post about changing book readership levels proved that my assumptions are not a given. They may even be wrong. Unlike me, some think that rising book sales levels is proof that readership is actually growing.

I’m of the opinion that gross book sales are an unreliable measure.

For instance, the only two publishing break-out stories of the past decade are the successes of Scholastic Publishing, which has the Harry Potter series, and Wiley Publishing, which has the For Dummies series. I’m over-simplifying, but one could say that unless you’re a child, or a “dummy,” your consumption of books isn’t growing year-to-date.

Or is it?

A few minutes ago, after reading a comment in my post by Matt Davis, I decided to reach out to an “impartial” third party. Here is the comment that spurred me on:

Your link claims an increase in book sales versus the previous year. Couple this with the “1 in 4 Americans Read No Books” stat, and my conclusion is that passionate readers are numerous. It’s the passive or non-interested reader that is fading away. Am I wrong?

I don’t know, Matt. Not anymore!

So I used a service on my cell phone that I’ve been meaning to try for some time. Think of it as a library Ready Reference service, but via text messaging. And, at least for now, it’s free. (Standard texting costs in your cell phone plan apply, of course!)

I’m speaking of ChaCha. Reading reports about it intrigued me. I love the idea of settling bets quickly and (hopefully) conclusively. And hey, I can certainly stand to get smarter on stuff.

So I just texted this to the ChaCha short code (242242):

Are more people reading books today versus in the past, or less?

Four minutes later, this is what was texted back to me:

Before the internet and TV and other electronics, people read more books. But now the number have went down a lot [sic]. ChaCha! http://search.chacha.com/u/j02abxvf

On the surface this answer looks good (poor grammar notwithstanding). But if you click on the source link, you have to ask yourself about the quality of the information this answer was based on.

My take-away: Who knows who is right? But for a fun way to settle a question, I like this quick and free service. It might even help with Trivial Pursuit.

ChaCha on!

Three sobering facts about today’s use of social networks and mobile media

It’s easy to get excited about the potential of social networks and mobile devices. We’re forever reminded that from a marketing perspective, there’s gold in them thar hills. Yesterday I was able to glean more of the unvarnished truth about both. I attended a couple of excellent panel discussions organized as part of the annual conference of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

Although the emphasis of these discussions was on mediated publics (e.g., MySpace, Facebook. etc.), I made a point to ask a few questions about how cell phones come into the picture as a way to keep the network dialogs humming when the computer is back at home. Here are three eye-opening realities of these new media, according to the panel:

  1. People beyond college age are mostly using social networks for the following reasons:
    • Dating
    • Networking for business
    • Keeping an eye on their children (the evocative term that panelist danah boyd used was helicopter parenting)
  2. Ms. boyd was leery about how long the “over-35 crowd” will be on Facebook. She theorizes it will be two years tops before they realize there’s little of value for them on that network.
  3. Mobile marketing in the U.S. is hog-tied compared to the rest of the world, due to the incompatibility between carriers (what danah called the “carrier barriers”). I knew this going in, but it’s worse than I thought. Here are two constraints I hadn’t really considered against adoption within a key market segment:
    • Most high schoolers, and younger college students, are getting their parents’ antiquated hand-me-down phones. They are also often bound within their parents’ cell phone plans.
    • These plans rarely have unlimited texting, so every text is potentially another dime or more on the monthly bill. This can raise parental eyebrows — or worse, tempers. Bummer for us marketers, and for them.

All of this was a valuable splash of cold water about these emerging media. They will continue to “emerge,” but don’t expect mass adoption any time soon.