motn_welcome_screenMobile social networking is a growing opportunity to harness the passions of supporters

What do politics, contests and certain kinds of branding or public service campaigns all have in common?

They are ideally suited to mobile social networking. Citizens want to stay connected with campaign HQ and all are subject to perishable information. The candidate issues a new position paper and needs supporters to comment on it on their blogs. The contest just issued the first $100,000 prize and so the opportunity window is closing. The branding campaign just released their latest YouTube clip and want to share it with you. The latest public service message has been drafted and the .org would like your feedback through a vote and survey process.

For the most part, web 2.0 and mobilizing web 2.0 has not really been all that exciting for enterprise. However, there are big opportunities for mobile social networking to link people to an idea foundry that feeds their passion and connects them to perishable information.┬áBrockmann & Company has written extensively on enterprise adoption of social media networking, blogging, wikis and forums and they’ve been pretty much limited to select industries and organizational sizes where the friction of geography, time zones and scale dilute the effect of corporate culture and constrain operations. Wikis accelerate learning about the way things get done in the firm. Blogs humanize the company, and services like twitter and linkedin have specialized roles in PR and HR.

One company delivering social networking services for client campaigns and organizations is Purple Forge of Ottawa. I met one of the founders and VP of Sales and Marketing, John Craig in Ottawa earlier this week. John showed me the product on his iPhone. The model is simple and functionality is high. Users download the Fans of the campaign download the app from the App store (BlackBerry and Android versions are coming) and stay connected with the campaign’s announcements, news and the like which are pushed to the mobile device. Users can participate in ad hoc polls, write about the latest events on their Facebook page and create their own Twitter updates based of course, on the campaign’s initial tweet.

The company is eyeing the US election cycle of 38 gubernatorial races in 2010 and the dozens of senators in the running and has ambitions in the upcoming UK and Canadian elections. No doubt this will be a big part of the new party machinery that Republicans will adopt as a lesson from the Obama campaign machine of 2008. But there are other applications that come to mind:

  • Public service campaigns – Right To Life, AARP, American Medical Association, American Chamber of Commerce, ACORN can use these services to stay in touch with their supporters and mobilize them as appropriate with surveys, blog post invitations, tweets and more.
  • Student radio stations – getting students on campus to stay in touch with the campus radio station is a huge challenge for campus programs (David Brockmann can provide plenty of experience about these dynamics in a modern campus), but integrating social networking with a cool mobile phone app framework is a great way to make the station cool and build listeners.
  • Contests – I participated in the McDonald’s Monopoly game the other day, which could have been mobilized with daily reminders, contest news and personal tallies comparing my points and my friends points. No doubt, their next rev of this or other games could incorporate this kind of creative, emotional-linking networking multiplication that would accelerate results of the contest and strengthen the attachment of mobile gamers which would expand the appeal of the contest beyond the frequent McDonald’s visitors today.
  • Selected branding campaigns – here the focus has be on stimulating the lifetime relationship with an important-in-my-life brand. Maybe certain lifestyle brands – Toyota Prius Hybird, Apple, Dell or Microsoft to name 3 ought to be engaging their customers and brand followers more personally and more directly through mobile social networking.
Mood of the Nation is an iPhone app that pools your answers to your mood with hundreds or thousands of other users who have likewise done the same. MOTN was built as a demo of the networking and updating technologies at the heart of Purple Forge’s business.

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