Native and Mobile Web: The Right Tool for the Job
The last day of panel sessions kicked off with a heated, albeit nerdy, discussion. With representatives from Tumblr and Facebook present, two platforms that have clearly mastered the mobile platform, I was anxious to hear about how one should evaluate the appropriate mobile execution for their client. Instead, the session got off to a pretty technical debate about native/web hybrid vs. 100% mobile web, with representatives on the panel sitting firmly in one camp or the other. But before I dig into the specifics, it’s important to outline the four different solutions that were discussed:
- Native Application – An application written specifically for the device operating system (OS). It is not cross-platform and it requires you to install and upgrade. Example: Mint.com iPhone app
- Native/Web Hybrid – An application written specifically for the device OS that relies on native elements like navigation, settings, etc., but employs web services to provide dynamic content experiences. Example: Facebook, Tumblr
- Locally Rendered HTML – An application that requires installation, but locally renders HTML and stylesheets to provide a dynamic, web-like experience. Example: Flipboard, New York Times
- Mobile Web – More specifically, HTML5. Site requires you to access through the browser application or shortcut icon, but uses HTML5 to create a custom for mobile experience, all using the browser’s built-in display functionality.
And while the panel did not land firmly on one side or the other, they did offer pros and cons to each which I thought I’d share, rather than taking a position (since honestly, I’m still not 100% sure which way I’d lean).
Native / Web Hybrid
- Pro: Allows you to take advantage of the best of both worlds. You can access the native widgets for each OS, but also provide dynamic content.
- Pro: You can easily monetize your app by listing it in the Apple app store.
- Con: Given the native application shell, creating a native/web hybrid has a slightly higher barrier to entry since it requires a programmer familiar with the iOS code.
- Con: Requires a specific content strategy.
- Pro: Programming a mobile site can be achieved by most developers. A much lower barrier to entry compared to the note above for hybrids.
- Pro: Mobile web allows for the use of HTML5 and responsive layouts and can take advantage of the same content applied for tablets and web, even if just a portion of it.
- Pro: Gets around some of the restrictions imposed by the Apple app store.
- Con: On the flip side, a mobile website is much harder to monetize… at the moment.
So, I think the key takeaway is that there are many ways to take your content to the mobile device, but understanding what your business strategy is, what content you want to share, and who your audience is will greatly influence which way you go. I think the one point everyone agrees on is that brands can no longer sit on the sidelines; a mobile presence is required for all brands.
Pinterest Explained: Q&A with Co-Founder Ben Silbermann
Practically a full house, we attended a great Q&A session with Ben Silbermann, the man behind Pinterest led by entrepreneur/investor/blogger Chris Dixon. It was an hour conversation where Ben talked freely about his aspirations and inspirations and his goals for the future development of his fasted-growing social media service.
What I really enjoyed listening to was how he walked us through his personal journey from when he started at Google up to the his company’s success today. He always reinforced how important it was to stay focus even through rough times and keep yourself surrounded with the people who are passionate for the right reasons.
Some other interesting points he made:
- His core inspiration for starting Pinterest came from simply how he saw life—as a world of collections.
- His team worked through the usability of his site all on paper.
- He strongly believes that you show that you have put as much time into the product as you expect out of your user.
- His goal is to never try and out perform his clone competitors. His focus is always on creating the best product.
- And at the end of the day in addition to developing Pinterest, his team is the most exciting thing he’s building these days.
The Facebook Customer Service Challenge for Brands
The last session of the day and of our entire SXSW excursion discussed the usual obstacles faced when using a Facebook brand page as a customer service tool. This panel was certainly a popular one as it was a packed house and it had every right to be with equally (if not more) popular panelists Mark Williams of LiveWorld, Bryan Person of Social Dynamx, Eric Ludwig of Rosetta Stone, and Molly DeMaagd of AT&T. From tips on how to handle difficult customer inquiries or how to deal with the new Facebook Timeline format, the well-spoken speakers shared some of their insights on the best use this social channel in handling customer inquiries.
Here are some of their best points:
- Constantly look at efficiency tools & staffing capacity and needs on a daily basis. Time is of the essence so make sure you are as efficient and well-staffed as possible
- When taking the conversation off-line, do it in a matter that doesn’t stifle the conversation. Stay human & transparent.
- Investigate how your fans engage before dedicating attention to a certain channel on your strategy. You don’t want to misdirect resources.
- When staffing customer service social teams, writing skills and passion for what the company is about are crucial.
- When you personify your brand page, make sure you follow the “feelings not facts” philosophy.