SM & Your Eyecare Business: The Mobile Web and Location Based Social Networks – Lesson 11, Part 1
The fastest growing areas of internet usage are on mobile devices. Mobile Internet refers to accessing the Internet from a mobile device, such as a smartphone, PDA or laptop. Your patients are doing it, in fact they’re often doing it while they are being examined (don’t you love that?) and it’s likely you’re doing it too.
Mobile Applications refer to programs that run on mobile devices (as opposed to programs that run on desktop or laptop computers). You are likely to find less videos or images on your mobile device than your desktops or laptops because smartphones and other mobile devices have slower internet connections than those non-mobile technologies. While advertising is pervasive on internet websites, the bandwidth needed to show banner ads and other types of internet advertising makes it difficult to display them on the mobile devices, so most mobile devices are refreshingly ad-free.
Mobile applications can provide information to friends, businesses and networks. While such applications create a highly targeted marketing opportunity for retailers, they also provide increased social connectivity and enable people to be more aware of things located close to them but would otherwise be hidden and enable people to become aware of opportunities that may save them time and, ultimately, money.
It is because these mobile devices often have Navigation Tools and Location Aware Applications Technologies, or Location-Aware Technologies, built in to help us navigate our environment. Location-Aware technologies you are likely familiar with include GPS, A-GPS, CDMA and WiFi. Mobile devices, by nature of their mobility, come in handy as navigation tools and Location-Aware Technologies are used to identify where these electronic devices are. They also allow users to exchange information through location-aware applications that relay via location-aware technologies. Mobile applications that allow users to get things done rely on Location-Aware Technologies, thus are called Location Aware Applications.
These technologies are being used by individuals, retailers, major corporations and many others. Universities use them for everything from locating sites and/or students, locating resources around the campus, in urban planning or archaeology courses.
For example, imagine an archaeology field study where a student makes a discovery of an important shard of pottery. They take a picture of it with their mobile device, which tags the geographical coordinates of the shard immediately, and automatically logs it into a database. In the click of a button, the important archaeological discovery is cataloged by location, identified with a photograph and tagged with any notes the student hopes to add on the finding such as date and time, etc. Future urban planning projects considering digging near the sight will find via that same database that the site has archaeological value and be able to avoid disturbing it. Other archaeologists will be able to use the data to study the site and subject matter. This is just one of thousands examples of how location aware applications can be used to benefit society.
Social networking will fundamentally change as your device knows who’s around you. . Many of the most popular applications on mobile devices are used within the consumer/retailer relationship. Consumers are using social networking applications to find retail items they seek, locate deals, preview menus before they get to a restaurant, read reviews and take advice from their networks. Retailers are using it to push ads that target their marketing towards people on mobile devices within striking distance; they are also buying and collecting data on their customers and the customers who are patronizing their competitors, as well as participating in networks to increase awareness of their brands.
Your small medical business can participate like the many small businesses already marketing in this very new mobile sphere. It’s likely more people in your geographic region are searching for a doctor through their mobile device than are responding to radio ads or direct mail advertising. Most of your younger patients are using social networking on their mobile phone and the use of mobile phone applications is skyrocketing. Like social media and networking, marketing in this manner is much less expensive and more effective than expensive print, radio or TV advertising and yes, even Google Adwords.
So stay tuned… my next blog will discuss networking products that leverage location awareness, and how to implement them, to drive customers in the doors of your small medical business, enabling it to grow and benefit from reduced marketing expenses at the same time!
Feel free to ask questions or leave comments in the section below and I’ll be sure to address them in future posts.
- Alan N. Glazier, OD, FAAO
Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care
Twitter Handle: @EyeInfo
Copyright Dr. Alan Glazier 2010 – All Rights Reserved