The missing links in SoLoMo

When tapped creatively, SoloMo tools can yield tremendous returns on investment. That's something which is still widely missing today.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

The Singapore Internet Society's INET conference last weekend focused much of its discussion on opportunities around SoLoMo. To those unfamiliar with the term, it refers to social, location-based, and mobile.

During her presentation, Yean Cheong, head of digital at media agency UM Asia-Pacific, highlighted how several retailers in the region had launched SoLoMo campaigns to great success. One example that stood out was South Korea's Emart, which creative use of QR codes won it a Direct Lion award at Cannes 2012.

The equivalent of Korea's Walmart, Emart has over 140 stores across the country but was faced with a challenge--sales dipped significantly during lunch hours. To appeal to crowds specifically at this time, it played on shadows the midday sun would create from 3D QR structures--comprising 441 pillars of seven varying heights--located outside its outlets. These would cast shadow-based QR codes which shoppers were encouraged to scan during the hour of noon to 1pm, directing them to the retailer's mobile pages offering special discounts and promotions.

Dubbed the Sunny Sale campaign, it helped Emart increase its online membership by 58 percent in February over the previous month. Over 12,000 SunnySale coupons were sold and sales during lunch hours climbed by 25 percent. The initiative, which started at 13 locations, has now expanded to 36 locales.


Emart demonstrated how even a piece of technology some perceived to be losing relevance, when tapped creatively, can yield tremendous returns on investment for a business.

That's something I think is still widely missing today.

Slapping a piece of QR code on a moving bus or on a poster located across a busy train track is not only sorely lacking in creativity, it's just plain silly. As a previous ZDNet report pointed out, content should entertain and resonate with consumers, and businesses need to figure out what their targeted audience would get out of the campaign.

Cheong also underscored a key link between the three elements in SoLoMo--connectivity. The best thought-out campaign using social, LBS (location-based services) and mobile would be useless if consumers have no access to the Internet.

She noted the hassle of ensuring ubiquitous connection especially when one travels, not to mention the high costs associated with data roaming. "Shouldn't this cost now be factored into my airline ticket?" she lamented, adding that most people now would want to stay connected when they travel overseas.

With social media and mobile devices now an important part of daily life for most of us, the SoLoMo space, no doubt, offers many opportunities for businesses and in social and education. But, without the two "Cs"--creativity and connectivity--all the potential in the world would be meaningless.

Discussing the need for connectivity to some may seem like pointless chatter about "plumbing", but for some parts of the world--particularly in Asia--it remains a key fundamental issue which still needs to be resolved, and not simply overlooked by the uninitiated.

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