Cell Phones and Bizarre Social Media Policy

In a previous post, we discussed reasons for retail stores to provide open wi-fi Internet access for the benefit of their customers. In short: people will gravitate toward businesses where they get the most satisfying experiences with their smartphones.

While 25% of cell phone users in the United States have smartphones today, by the end of 2012 that number will be much closer to 75%. If you’re not specifically marketing to and connecting with customers through their smartphones, at least give them a decent experience while they’re in your store.

Falling Behind Smartphone Technology

Businesses in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania generally ignore the benefits of having high visibility on the Internet. As mobile phones have become common, those same businesses have simply overlooked their importance. And it’s not just Lewisburg. Businesses in Williamsport, Sunbury, Selinsgrove, Mifflinburg, Milton, and Danville are just as far behind in their appreciation for social media and smartphone technology.

It’s refreshing, then, that one local store advertises, Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. How awesome that a business in rural Pennsylvania seems to “get” it.

How to Annoy Smartphone-Equipped Customers

I shop often in that store, and I become more annoyed each time I do. The business kindly provides wi-fi for its customers which, again, makes it a standout in the local retail industry. However, using the store’s wi-fi with my smartphone drives me nuts.

Generally, when I’m out-and-about, I have no use for a browser. Rather, I get to various Internet services via apps—a Facebook app, a Twitter app, a Foursquare app… these run through a wi-fi connection without loading a browser.

What happens when I get into this particular retail store? None of my favorite apps work. This is because the store’s network demands that I open a browser and try to navigate somewhere on the Internet with it. At that point, the network directs my browser to the store’s nuisance terms of service page where I must click an Agree button to get onto the Internet. By the time I’ve done all that, I’m pretty annoyed with the store’s management.

The important point here: find it in your heart to provide completely open wi-fi to your shoppers; don’t hinder their access with a nuisance terms of service page. If you’re concerned about people behaving badly, set up software to monitor activity and block devices that offend repeatedly.

Wi-Fi Hypocrisy

By the time my smartphone has Internet access in this particular store, I’m wishing I could shop elsewhere. But it gets worse!

When I try to navigate to Facebook or Twitter, the store’s network pushes a message to my phone that reads Social media. Consult your network administrator. In other words, the business blocks access to Facebook and Twitter on its own network!

You see the hypocrisy, right? The business invites you to follow them on Facebook and Twitter, but they don’t let you do it when you’re IN THEIR STORE!!!

Don’t be this business. If you want to block access to social media in your store, absolutely do not invite customers to friend you! If you invite customers to follow you online, then don’t get in their way.

What amazes me more than someone demonstrating this kind of hypocrisy is that anyone would need to have it pointed out to them. Mobile media and mobile marketing are new enough that we’re likely to be working through these types of issues for years. A business that works through them sooner will have a considerable edge over its competitors.

Contact us for help with your own mobile marketing and social media marketing programs.

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