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07/09/2010 Digital Sustainability


At yesterday's BBA Mobile discussion, a number of companies impressed me by how they were building their mobile presence with pretty limited resources. What jumped out at me was how they re-used existing content or data by putting a mobile layer on top of it. Not only is that smart, it speeds up launching mobile marketing initiatives.

Russ Scully who owns the restaurant The Spot as well as a Web development firm (a handy combination) showed how he adapted his restaurants online ordering to a mobile Web site. While customers can now pre-order their breakfasts or lunch from their iPhone or Droid (and it even saves your previous orders), Russ and the staff can review orders and inventories mobily as well. He's simply taken the existing data structure from the Web and connected it to a mobile Web site.

Mike Hayes from Magic Hat Brewing (my favorite) showed how they were using mobile Web addresses and QR codes to connect packaging and labels (which they produce all the time) to existing Web or social media content (videos, Twitter, etc.). For Magic Hat it's a way to provide immediacy of connection to people consuming the product in the moment of consumption, through their mobile phone.

What struck me in these discussions was how both businesses weren't trying to build an array of new mobile "stuff." Instead, mobile was the device to connect to existing content. They re-used what they had already built. This seemed like a very sustainable strategy and one that we can learn from.

Old garbage now fills a lot of our digital atmosphere: zombied microsites, old blogs, vacant social media accounts. I wouldn't call it a dump (yet) but it reminds me of our Earth's orbit, now littered with remains of satellites and space ships. As this debris keeps rotating the earth, it poses a threat to new spacecraft.

While everyone pays attention to the idea of mobile apps, start thinking instead about your own digital sustainability. What material could you reuse to grow your mobile presence? How could you adapt some current materials (even shwag) to make it mobile? Right now, everything has the chance to become an interactive object, now that we have a networked mobile device in our hands. Signs, hats, shirts, labels, hangtags, and billboards, to name a few. Could you connect that to content, conversations or contests?

Although this discussion is about mobile, it applies to social media as well. Try to re-use, re-connect, and re-new what you already have, rather than building everything with new material. 

Perhaps you'll build a sustainable Web of engagement through digital technologies.


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