How to Prepare for the Mobile Future

As we approach 181.4 million smartphone users in the U.S with an eye toward 222.4 million, or 67.8% of the population, by 2017, it is clear that the prevailing trend in eCommerce is to break free from the confines of the desktop computer. Mobile devices, according to n-commerce technology vendor Branding Brand projects, will soon account for 39% of all traffic to the retail websites of Internet Retailer’s Top 500 e-retailers.

What are consumers doing on their mobile devices? According to Nielsen’s “Cross Platform Report,” Americans are spending a third of their smartphone time on social media. Clearly, the immediate implication for brands, cooperatives included, is that a social media strategy should be a mobile strategy and a mobile strategy a social strategy. It is likely that the business objective behind a social media initiative will be to drive traffic to a brand’s website – where, for now at least, most eCommerce takes place. It follows that to be competitive a brand’s website must be responsive to the many different mobile devices that will be following the links shared in social media. No brand can afford to lose 39% of its hard earned traffic.

The mobile revolution represents the first phase of the untethering of human connection. When social networks first gained prominence in the 00’s, many people were communicating at home on their desktop PC, or moderately portable laptop. Now, people are communicating on the road, at work, and everywhere in between. No longer tied to desktops, humans can connect and interact with friends, family, and brands as desired and needed.

Perhaps the second phase of the untethering of human connectivity will be the wearable revolution. Devices such as Google Glass and the rumored iWatch, will make us connected organisms, signaling a biological evolution as much as a technological one. By decade’s end, we may see what Brian Solis calls, the Internet of Things, “where devices and things connect to one another to perform certain tasks and/or track activities to improve what we already do or make possible what we’re trying to do.” The online and physical world will merge in a way that will, potentially, benefit humanity greatly. When objects that we use can learn and improve our actions simultaneously as individuals and populations, the possibilities for human growth and advancement are truly exciting.

Brands can anticipate this future as soon as today in social media. A social media strategy that engages and interacts individual users, responding to their needs in real time, approaches the efficiency and feedback promised by connected objects that can learn and respond. Solis’ future where we will “become insatiable in our pursuit of personalized feedback” will evolve, at least in part, from the successful Facebook brand pages and Twitter feeds of today, those that react and respond to consumers’ individual needs and desires.