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    Online observations of public relations, marketing, advertising and social media; the occasional frivolity; and The Rundown show notes. Jump in, the water's fine.

    Please Note: Everything posted on this blog is my personal opinion and does not necessarily represent the views of my employer or its constituents.

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Missing McDonald’s Mobile Mars Michigan Motorway

I recently took a vacation in western Michigan in what should have been a seven-hour drive away from my house. I made this trip with my family, which included a then 15-month old, so the trip seemed more like a 12-month trek across the arctic.

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Since my colleague (and boss), Techno//Marketer Matt Dickman, recently posted his thoughts on the single most important element of the new 3G iPhone, I’ve been kicking mobile around in my head alot.

I only recently got into the mobile game. I don’t have an iPhone, but I did get a Blackberry several months ago and I love it. It comes in handy even though I live in an area where, when I click on “My Location,” it gives me a rough estimate of my location within 1700 meters. Handy.

But that’s not my central point. My point is that I, during my arduous drive back to NE Ohio,  was shocked to find that McDonald’s doesn’t have a mobile site. Sure, fine, that’s okay, all I was looking for was a list of McDonalds where I could find a Playplace so my daughter could run around. But – even with the incredibly mobile-unfriendly site – I thought for certain I could bash my way through the navigation to find what I was looking for. No dice.

Maybe it was me. Maybe it’s my phone. Maybe it was the frustrated toddler emphatically pulling on her carseat straps saying, “out. out. out. OUT. OUT. OUT. OUT.” But I couldn’t find any way of a) locating a store nearby or b) finding a list of restaurants with Playplaces.

On the real web, the MickeyD’s site does have a restaurant locator and – gasp – even a handy McDonald’s Trip Planner to help you plan your trip. Only I, like most parents, hadn’t thought of that while I was packing the car to go home – nor did I have a computer handy. Maybe McDonald’s will assume with the roughly 31,377 company-owned and franchised restaurants handy, I could have found one on my own. Which I did. A Wendy’s.

So even though people are reportedly still waiting for iPhones, remember there are a lot of phones out there that use a mobile web – and a lot of your target market out there who might need to get more from your online offering while they are out. out. OUT. OUT. OUT. and about.

Anyone have any similar experiences or more enlightment on the subject?

Inside Pandora’s Box: A Twitter Story

Sure, I twitter. I am also a huge fan of Pandora.

If you don’t know what Twitter is, it’s a service people use to constantly complain about Twitter. It’s also this. Pandora is an online music site that helps you fine other music you’ll love:

With Pandora you can explore this vast trove of music to your heart’s content. Just drop the name of one of your favorite songs or artists into Pandora and let the Genome Project go. It will quickly scan its entire world of analyzed music, almost a century of popular recordings – new and old, well known and completely obscure – to find songs with interesting musical similarities to your choice. Then sit back and enjoy as it creates a listening experience full of current and soon-to-be favorite songs for you.

I’ve found – and purchased – a lot of new music because of Pandora. I’m a fan.

And I’m happy to report that some businesses have also figured out that with so many people on Twitter, they (the businesses) might as well see if they (the people) need anything else.

Enter customer service at the place where the customers are already talking about the brand. Some outstanding examples of excellent Twitter engagement have been detailed on many other outstanding blogs. It works.

Here’s my story. I follow the Pandora_Radio twitter feed ’cause they engage and occasionally provide interesting tidbits about what’s going on at Pandora HQ. It’s voiced by Lucia, Pandora’s Community Manager. Some select examples:

I saw a tweet go by my stream the other day and I responded with an unsolicited suggestion that Pandora not automatically play the last station you were listening to when you visit the site. I merely suggested a “which station would you like to play?” query during the load. Minutes later I got a direct message from Lucia saying she would present that suggestion to the team.

Now whether they do or not is only half the issue (well, maybe 65%). The main point is that they heard me and took the time to respond and acknowledge my suggestion. That makes a big impact on a user who – without question – has a lot of on and offline music options. Pandora’s advertisers should be pleased. And you should be looking into ways to engage with your customers. What ways are you providing for them to touch base with you?

Also, they should totally implement my suggestion.

(post updated to remove some annoying spelling errors)