I love to use my mobile apps when traveling. I check in at various locations via Foursquare and post updates via my Facebook mobile app. LinkedIn is one of my favorite professional social networking platforms but the only time I really use it is when I’m in my office at my desktop. I do have the mobile app but I find I rarely check the updates.
When I discovered a new mobile app designed to connect LinkedIn professionals while traveling I was very excited and started investigating. It is called Here On Biz. I invited CMO of Here On Biz, Nick Smoot to join me on Social Geek Radio to tell us more.
Nick is a driven entrepreneur, husband, and father who has impacted both the non-profit world and big business.
After spending seven years in the non-profit world where he was leading state wide initiatives, global leadership development trips, and educational tours in the middle east he redirected his focus to providing answers to complex problems in the business world for both small and large operations.
The entry into the business world was focused on providing solutions to drive loyalty and engagement of current customers. Wisely seeing the mobile revolution coming, Nick began helping companies understand how to implement mobile solutions with ease. After recreating the marketing and distribution model for an online education company, which lead them to become the leader in their space, he took on his first mobile startup. With this company, he and his partner went from concept to acquisition in 8 months for an 11x return. This landed them in the seat of helping major franchise organizations think through mobile strategy and app strategy.
Q1: Why do businesses need to “think mobile”?
Answer: Well, I am not sure if you noticed but mobile has finally hit in a big way. If you watch any social setting everyone is staring down at the lil computer they keep in their purse or pocket. That “real estate” is important for anyone who deals with humans as customers. To help you understand the power of these devices, there is more computing power in your phone then there was in the Apollo Lunar Lander. Websites are great, but from today forward, you should be thinking “mobile first”.
Q2: So what does “Mobile First” mean for someone who hasn’t even began to think mobile?
Well step one is committing to figuring out a mobile strategy. Now this can be tricky because just having a website and telling people to go to it on their phones isn’t a mobile strategy. A mobile device has unique abilities a desktop doesn’t. Take those into account when processing “strategy”. GPS, touch interface, easy to use camera, voice and one touch call, etc.
Answer: Mobile strategy plain and simple is this… you believe that your customers/users have a very powerful device in their pocket, how are we capitalizing on that to create loyalty, engagement, and spend more.
Q3: So do I have to have an “app”?
Answer: No. But you do need to be thinking about how your website looks on an app, what social platforms or engagements you are driving people to and are they mobile friendly. Are you encouraging on site actions that can be preformed through mobile platforms.
Is an app or mobile web helpful for the right company… Yes. But don’t just make an app to be with the “cool kids”. You won’t be instagram or angry birds.
Q4: So if I wanted to “do an app”, how would I?
Answer: For starters you need to answer why. If you can’t give an amazing reason for what your app will do that harness the power of a mobile device, don’t do it! Now with that said… You need to decide native app or mobile web.
If native, do you make it truly native or use an SDK like Titanium on Appcelerator. It is a great service but native sometimes is the way to go if you want the app to do really heavy lifting. The upside to an SDK is that you can often use the code across Android and iPhone.
You also either need to have about 75k to invest in building a complimentary service to your current site or if you are launching a new company, you had be prepared to spend about 200k in development etc. Again though, don’t start making an app until you know direction. You will often pay through the nose just to engage with a development house who will walk you through the “creative steps”. I know of a firm that will not talk to you until you have 200k on the table in retainer. Sure are there “make your own app kits”, but you get what you pay for. Have you ever built your own house without knowing what you were doing? …
Q5: So your current mobile company is Here On Biz. It focuses on LinkedIn and location awareness, chat, etc. Why did you pick LinkedIn instead of FB, Twitter, etc?
Answer: Because I believe the business professional was being left out! LinkedIn is hands down the most useful network for the business professional, but it lacks utility. It is great to showcase your resume and hire someone from the community, but for real time interactions, it is a bit lacking.
So when we started building out the concept of Here On Biz, we started to see the pre buzz around other ambient apps, like dating apps or “meet friends” apps. All of those are great, but we used one that suggested I meet a 13 year old because we liked the same TV show on facebook. My lawyer wouldn’t like that nor my wife.
Q6: So explain how business professionals listening to this show should be using LinkedIn.
Answer: First off, get an account if you don’t have one. It is free and it allows you good exposure. Now, you should update your profile as fully as possible, you should seek out past connections and add them to your network. After a productive meeting, you should add that contact to your “network” by searching their name then clicking the connect button. Be sure to keep your work info up to date and if there are notable things going on in your work world, share it there through an “update”.
Q7: So what does your app, Here On Biz, do that LinkedIn does not that would be helpful to the listeners to know?
Answer: A few things, first off it allows for you to see other users of LinkedIn who use our app “Around you”. Then for those you are connected to it allows you to “chat” with them in real time. Lastly it provides what we call a “geo aware rolodex”. Anyone who you are connected to on LinkedIn who uses the app or who you connected with in the app it moves them into the “network” tab for you. Now you can keep tabs on their business travels. If they are in Seattle, you will see that and know what general area they are in. This is huge for business development roles. Imagine being able to keep GEO aware info on key accounts or possible clients.
We are only seven weeks old and already have downloads in over 22 countries. Some of the users are from executives and leaders from companies like Apple, American Express, HP, Accenture, Exxon, Barclays, JP Morgan, etc.
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