talking humanIn this new series we bring you the best and brightest of the executives and contributors making the new International Journal of Mobile Marketing (IJMM) a must-read resource, beginning with Mihai Vlad, Head of Audience Management & Insight at Optism, who provides insights into the very human approaches proven to boost engagement between brands and the people who have opted in to receive their messages.


People are mobile, and mobile is part of who they are. But mobile is not just a device. It’s our ‘default’ state. In a networked, wired-up world where 5.6 billion people are connected to each other by a mobile device, mobile also allows us a voice —and a role —in much larger conversations. More importantly, mobile empowers us to fulfill our oldest and most important purpose: to participate in something much greater than ourselves.

Mihai draws from the work of authorities such as Alan Moore (@alansmlxl)— independent consultant and author of the new book, No Straight Lines: Making Sense Of Our Non-Linear World — to show the evolution of mobile follows a path that is predetermined by our very human and deep-seated desire to connect and communicate with the world around us.

As Mihai puts it: “We are personal and participatory to the core, human characteristics that are amplified by advances such as the Internet, mobile and social media. In my view, it is no coincidence that mobile — personal, portable, pedestrian, and now our primary means to participate in our society— has such a central role in our lives.”

It is a development he shows has profound consequences for the companies and brands that want to connect with us.

Speak to us

The signs of a shift in our attitude toward brands and celebrities are everywhere. Or how else do you explain our eagerness to communicate (and listen) to fashion brands, personalities (Lady Gaga) and extend our real and virtual networks?

Another great example is Siri, the smart digital assistant app/service available on Apple iPhone 4S devices that integrates with our personal data to offer us assistance and advice. It is fascinating that digital natives have already begun to adopt Siri into their extended family of ‘significant others,’ creating and sharing Facebook pages and videos dedicated to the great jokes Siri ‘tells.’

Yes, our socialness has created a desire in us to engage in intimate conversations with brands, companies, search services and people we will never meet face-to-face. And our socialness also values entities that respond, a reaction that acknowledges our existence as individuals and validates the importance of what we have to say.

Mihai Vlad OptismConnect the dots, and our socialness demands that communications with our ‘significant others’ are two-way, not one way. But Mihai  reminds us that this is not the only rule to follow. When it comes to interactions between people and brands, marketers must also avoid delivering messages that are interruptive, irrelevant or impersonal.

To drive the point home Mihai draws from Seth Godin, groundbreaking marketer and author of Permission Marketing, and applies Godin’s thinking to text messaging and permission based mobile marketing (a phenomenon Godin could not have foreseen or addressed in the book he wrote 13 years ago).

Hard facts

But the real highlight is how Mihai uses a mix of internal Optism research and findings from mobileSQUARED, a U.K.- based mobile engagement research firm keenly focused on permission based marketing, to bring us a new perspective on the advance of permission based mobile marketing.

Specifically, the popularity of this approach also creates the expectation among people who have opted-in to receive brand messages that brands are prepared to engage in an ongoing dialog in which they both listen intently and answer back.

The bottom line: companies and brands must choose their words carefully and the wording must be truly human.

A bit of common sense perhaps — but it’s not that simple, which is why Mihai zeroes in on the ideas presented in Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness to provide marketers some much-needed guidance.

He concludes his Invited Commentary in the journal with a list of 5 best practices, providing mobile marketers a blueprint they can follow to maximize the value of their permission based mobile marketing initiatives and drive positive results.

I encourage you to purchase the IJMM (below) to read the full article. And don’t forget to check out this ‘teaser’ over at the Optism blog.

My attempt to summarize it all in one sentence:

The ideal — and, hence, most positive — interaction is transparent, truthful (don’t bribe —ever!) and based on trust. Remember that our socialness dictates that the relationship marketers build with us is more akin to a marriage than a date.

My take:

Kudos to Mihai for adapting the thinking about permission marketing and nudging to provide valuable insights into how companies and brands can (and must) approach people to ensure a desired outcome for everyone involved. And it’s not just limited to marketing in my book! If you want people to transact with you (not just interact), encourage purchases or convince customers to keep coming back, the same simple but elegant rules apply.


IJMM download box