The next big train: mobile communications

We live in a big world but we communicate in small spaces on small devices.

We live in a big world but we communicate in small spaces on small devices. Not only has the media landscape fragmented, it has gone mobile. 

We know that more people are doing their social networking via a mobile device.

In fact, according to a recent report from comScore, “Mobile use of social networking applications ballooned 240 percent to 14.5 million users in April of this year, compared with April of last year, while mobile visitors to social networking sites via browsers grew 90 percent to 30 million in the same time period."

People are getting used to absorbing information in 140-character increments that still somehow convey who, what, when, where, why, and how. The basics of communication and PR still apply: we need to inform, influence, engage, and tell a compelling story. But how do we do that effectively in a mobile environment?

We must consider customizing website form, function, and content for mobile usage. What the eye will tolerate and the mind can capture on a 3x4-inch screen is entirely different than on a laptop screen.

Perhaps the greatest challenge will be learning how to communicate a complex story for smaller, more confined spaces. There have to be fewer words. Images and video are a factor.

How necessary is the written word if an image or a video can say it all? When space is limited, what is the best way to communicate a story?

We must also think about the multimedia options that smartphones and iPads offer in the context of content creation, delivery, and ease of use. And we have to think about the link in the content (aside from if it works) if the link sends us to information that is also easily viewed on a mobile device. Simply put, there are more applications and forms of information to consider on a mobile platform.

Agencies and clients alike have a big opportunity to develop mobile applications. For example, companies can arm their sales force with an application or iPhone app for mobile devices. It can tell their story (“the brand in hand”) and it lives wherever they go. Could the new mobile application become the new website of the future?

Sabrina Horn is the president and CEO of the Horn Group.

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