Future Implications

Mobility. Mobile. Go!

According to Ericsson by 2019 the number of smartphone subscribers is expected to increase from current 1.9 billion users to 5.6 billion. This is almost 4 billion more smartphone users in only 5 years. Mobile data traffic is expected to grow 45% and global smartphone traffic will increase 10 times.

This increase will be highly influenced by smartphone prices. Numerous companies are now producing low cost smartphones; consumers don’t necessary need Apple iPhone 6 that is quite expensive. Also the big growth of smartphone users is influenced by developing markets in Asia. India is currently the fastest growing market for smartphones. There is also a significant increase in Africa and Latin America.


Check the full mobilty report issued by Ericsson in June 2014 on PDF  http://bit.ly/1kFCEeD

Even Facebook, the big-box chain of social networking, realizes its problem of content oversaturation and the trend towards granularity and mobile tribes. The company has doubled down on developing its mobile suite (where most of the company’s active power users live, and where the ad dollars are most brisk) and “unbundling the big blue app,” according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

“I think on mobile, people want different things,” Zuckerberg told The New York Times. “Ease of access is so important. So is having the ability to control which things you can get notifications for. And the real estate is so small. In mobile, there’s a big premium on creating single-purpose first-class experiences.”

The internet is a fast-growing space, with 2.4 billion people set to use it by the end of 2013. Reports suggest that this figure is likely to grow to 3.4 billion by 2016, and as many as 5.4 billion by 2025. It is estimated that the 2025 figure will equate to approximately 66% of the world’s population by that point.  Naturally, as the internet expands, so too will the number of internet-enabled mobile devices. In 2013, it is thought that 17% of all connections to the internet have been made by mobile devices. Fast forward to 2015 and this figure rises to 80%.

In 2012, 60 million people connected to the internet using a mobile 4G connection, but by 2017, this will have rocketed to 992 million. Meanwhile, 81,442,000,000 apps will be downloaded in 2013, compared with 309,606,000,000 in 2016.

Mobiles are increasingly being seen as the natural replacement for credit and debit cards, and it’s easy to see why when reports suggest that 50% of all transactions will be made by mobile by the close of this decade. However, it’s worth noting that mobile transactions are already a large part of our lives, with 200 million mobile payments made in 2012 (worth $163bn), 245 million payments estimated by the end of 2013 ($235bn), and 450 million payments predicted in 2017 ($721bn).

Consider this, the mobile ecosystem overall was thought to be worth $1,551bn last year – a figure that is set to rise to $1,951bn by 2017. Now do you think mobile is the key to success?


Viral Marketing Initiatives

Kmart needed to get the attention of discount shoppers and they did it with humor. The “Ship My Pants” and “Big Gas Savings” campaigns both went viral. The viral marketing content does support the business objective because it is a discount department store and allows product shipping to another store or the customer’s home. I think both of these created brand awareness and made people seek out the videos as well as possibly consider a stop to the nearest Kmart. Since the videos we funny, the content was shared by many and viewed by millions. Not only did Kmart produce two ads that went viral in a short amount of time, they also created a third, “Show Your Joe.” Although it revived the brand and created a splash, Kmart is still struggling to compete with the likes of Target and Walmart.

Viral marketing can become a successful tactic when it works. In a time of instant gratification and faster internet, a company has less time to be memorable and effective. Marketers need to create unique plans to stand out from all the noise and coloring outside the lines becomes the standard. The most important ingredient is to evoke an emotion from the viewer. A positive one is best such as laughter, happiness, etc. This will make them want to share it with others. If it made them laugh, they want to make others laugh.


Uber v Lyft logo

Uber and Lyft are making a big splash in the ridesharing market by competing head to head with each other, public transportation, cab companies, and carpools. The interesting fact is that they are more focused on knocking each other out of the market than the rest of the competition. And, it’s a heated competition on and off the road.

There are many similarities when you compare them side by side. Both use their own smartphone app to connect passengers with drivers who are for hire, using their own vehicles. On this app, customers may request rides and track their reserved vehicle’s location. The fare charge includes fees for per minute, per mile, minimum fare, and safety fee. They both also have a “surge pricing” for peak times during the day.

The Lyft brand in more recognizable than the Uber brand. Have you noticed those pink mustaches on cars? Most drivers place that pink mustache to the front of the car  for identity, leading toward brand awareness. The Lyft brand differentiates itself by being more personal than Uber. The moustache lends itself to a more casual brand and it does not stop there. The drivers allow you to sit in the front seat instead of the back and the more chauffer-driven Uber. Uber drivers are not allowed to be tipped, but Lyft encourages tips and has a reminder set at the end of the ride. This personalization extends to Lyft social media channels of Facebook and Twitter. The tone of Lyft’s facebook is more personal showing driver and rider experiences, while Uber is more corporate with of a sales tone.

The overall goal of each company is sales. How do increase sales? Offer a service where the customer is happy and feels engaged.  According to the image below, Uber is the clear frontrunner with over 92% of rideshare between the two companies.


 Lyft has a lower price point and Uber has been in business longer, but for the past year, it is evident that Uber wins…for now.  So, does brand recognition equal sales? For now, it does not, but I believe that personal touch of Lyft will win over Uber in the future.


Griffith, Erin . (2014, September 11) Uber vs Lyft: The credit cards don’t lie. Retrieved September 13, 2014 from http://fortune.com/tag/lyft/

Lyft. (n.d). Official Twitter Account. Retrieved September 13, 2014 from https://twitter.com/Lyft

Lyft. (n.d). Official Facebook Account. Retrieved September 13, 2014 from https://facebook.com/Lyft

Uber. (n.d). Official Twitter Account. Retrieved September 13, 2014 from https://twitter.com/Uber

Uber. (n.d). Official Facebook Account. Retrieved September 13, 2014 from https://facebook.com/Uber

Best Practices for Blogging

Blog word.

Blogging can be a great way to connect with your consumers. For the mass transit industry, this is another way to connect with it’s riders.  Most blog posts consist of routes and closures, but there is that opportunity to connect. If there is a large light rail project with several potential routes, the company blog may be the arena to start the discussion. 

Mass transit examples include the Eastern Sierra Transit Blog and the Port Authority of Alleghany County Blog.

If you are considering a blog, here are a few suggestions:

1. Create Policies and Procedures. This includes for blogging topics, editors,and how to handle comments. A set of guidelines will need to be established on how the blog can affect the business. Know what you are getting into and how you will handle the risks. You may discover a blog is not the right fit, right now.

2.  It’s NOT About YOU! This is an opportunity to engage, not to sell. Any attempt to sell will backfire. Readers are looking to be a part of the dialogue not a recipient of your ads. If you make a connection, they will buy. Make the post about them and they will continue to read.

3. Timing is Everything. Keep your content fresh and relevant. There are so many ways to do this just look at the company news, jobs, new products, etc. Even commenting on recent events and how it will relate to you and the reader is a great way to connect.

4. The Blog is Your Image. This is a direct reflection on the company. Keep the image consistent as well as any messaging. You want to be open and transparent with the readers. Keep in mind that what happens on the internet, stays on the internet. Be mindful of how you respond to comments.

5.  Be Engaged. Always respond to comments whether good or bad so they know you are listening. If you need to direct them offline then do so with a comment. If you find a comment has brought up a few good points that starts a conversation, use this in your next blog article.

6. Mingle Your Social Media. When you post a new blog article, tweet about it or post a link of Facebook. This is a great way to cross-market and can get more followers pointed in the blog’s direction.

7. Know When to Say Good-Bye. Nothing lasts forever as this includes your blog. Here is a great blog about ending a blog, How to Know When to Stop Blogging.

The key is building a solid understanding and foundation on what the company’s goals for the blog are currently and where they want to be in the future. To continue your education on starting a blog, consider reading Corporate Blogging: 7 Best Practices by Kari White and Blogging for Beginners: 17 Tips Before You Start Your Blog. This case study about the Boeing blog will make a great benchmark on how to sustain your blog for the long haul, B2B Social Media Example: Boeing.



Know Your Brand Before Going Social


Social media is a becoming the tool for the marketing toolbox, but should it be for mass transit?  There are many challenges and risks when taking a brand social or not.  The mass transit is very public industry and it has just begun to open itself to social media.  

Companies need to consider the risks and rewards prior to make the commitment. These include brand image, demographic, social media tools, confidential information, and commitment.  When a company decides to take a brand social, they are taking a step towards transparency. They need to be prepared to open themselves up to scrutiny and opinions that are public without their prior consent. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and social media has become that vehicle to express in a way that is easier than a phone call. Customers know that social media sites are constantly monitored and it is a way to interact without waiting. Will the company be ready to accept this and know how to react?  Will there be procedures in place to handle social damage control?

I think that it can definitely be a challenge to integrate a social component into an established brand, but I think that in many cases, with a proper integration and implementation plan, companies can really benefit from having a social presence. If a company is able to utilize social media, as well as its traditional marketing plan, it opens itself up to a multidimensional marketing strategy with the ability to attract potential customers and retain existing ones. However, companies need to be ready to commit to the time and effort it takes to make a successful transition into social media.

A great resource is an article by Jan Hertzberg and Matthew Thompson (2013), titled “Managing Your Company’s Social Media Risks.” The article includes tips on how companies can manage the risks and liabilities of social media. The four tips include understanding, strategy, involvement, and monitoring. (I have placed helpful videos to illustrate each tip.)

First, understand and assess risks by evaluating the risks and determining how they to manage them.


Second, define your strategy by creating a plan or procedure when issues arise.


Third, involve all the departments of the organization because each has an important role to protect the firm’s brand.


Fourth, monitor and manage feedback by listening to the customer and responding in a timely manner.


If you want to take your brand social, you need to understand your brand. It’s important to know your brand and determine making it more transparent will affect the company. Just like building a house, you need a strong foundation or else the house will crumble. Is your brand strong enough?





Stay connected and save time with e-tickets

The world is going paperless and so should you when it comes to mass transit. How many times have you spent time looking for that transit ticket, searching for change for the ticket vending machine, or missing a connection due to paper tickets?

Mass transit is moving towards mobile applications to stay connected to its customers. Agencies such and the MBTA and TriMet have implemented an e-ticket mobile application to take the hassle of ticket purchasing away. No need to search for that paper ticket or look at those tri-fold route maps. Riders can download the app directly to their phone. Not only will you be able to purchase tickets for one-day, ten days or thirty days, but also other tools to make your commute hassle-free and stress-free. Other tools may include route maps, attractions, other mass transit services, updates, etc.





Another benefit for mobile applications is communication. The company may push notifications to the consumer concerning route issues and other updates. By pushing this communication, the user may feel connected and almost obligated to keep the app due to those real-time updates.

Measuring the success of the mobile applications should be divided into two categories quantity and quality. Under quantity is the number of times the app is downloaded, number of in-app purchases (i.e. tickets), and visits to the app. If the app is free, there is no the number of downloads will primarily show interest. The key is the number of e-tickets purchased that will determine if the app is successful and if it driving revenue to the company.

Quality is measured with engagement. This is diving deeper into the user experience inside the app. Determining what the user is doing inside the application, how long they are using the app and how many times they use the tools in the app. In addition, allowing the users to post to their social media sites from the app is a sign of engagement as well.

With these analytics, a demographic is created to determine which tools are most effective to the user. It can act as its own marketing research project for the app and help create new opportunities for future tools. There may be in-app options that include user preferences related to their commute, notifications of schedules, area attractions and possible a “members only” benefit to discounts and other rewards.

Here are some other agencies using E-Ticketing:

Chicago Transit Authority http://www.transitchicago.com/apps/
Dallas Area Rapid Transit http://www.dart.org/riding/traveltoolsandapps.asp

X Marks the Spot: Social Media Applications to Help You Get to X



What is the best route to take? Why is my bus late? How many stops till my destination? How much will it cost for a ticket? These are just some questions asked when trying to get to X.

Mass transit companies use social media as an extension of its customer service operations and public outreach. It is one the most effective ways to reach riders concerning unexpected delays and to get feedback. However, what if you do not “like” them on Facebook or “follow” them on Twitter. How do you get the information you need in a timely manner?  Smartphones are a common accessory to most and another way to reach commuters is through their phone using mobile apps. This give commuters access and control over their commute by having the information they need in the palm of their hands. It also connects the commutes to the transit company creating a relationship between the two.

Mobile Apps can help the commuter experience run a bit smoother. From ticketing to stop alerts, you smartphone can become your personal commuter assistant in a download. Mobile ticketing gives the commuter a convenient, hassle-free experience.  The need to stand in long lines at the ticket kiosk or having the fear of losing that paper ticket are eliminated when you can purchase tickets directly from your smartphone. TriMet, the mass transit company for the Portland, Oregon metro area, uses a mobile ticketing app that allows riders to display a QR code and on-screen animation with the expiration time and date.  The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has encouraged others to develop mobile apps for its services.  One app is PromixiT is a location based alert and tracking app. It shows arrival times for your train locate the nearest station and get train times when you approach a station without opening the app. You can view all the apps in the MBTA Showcase.

For those riders that are using mass transit for the first time or seasoned riders, new to the area or looking for a route, Google can help! Google Maps has added mass transit options when directions are searched. The user can search the routes of mass transit, walking, biking and driving. It will give you the options to see what mass transit route you can take and how long it will take you.  If you are only looking for mass transit options, Google Transit or Embark can be of service.  These apps partner with the local or regional transit company by providing trip planning using the transit shared data.  The trip-planning schedule is available to share via email, text or Twitter with others as well as alert riders of delays along the desired route in real-time. Click on this video of Google Transit in New York City http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIC1S4qOCZs to see how it works.

For those who do not want to download mobile apps, they can sign up for the e-alerts from their transit company. It is usually on the website and you would simply add you email or phone to receive timely information about any route changes or delays.



Lutz, Zachary (5 September 2013). TRiMet mobile ticketing apps open to all mass transit riders in Portland area. Retrieved (19 July 2014) From http://www.engadget.com/2013/09/05/trimet-tickets-now-available-for-android-and-ios/#commentsGoogle Transit Partner Program. Retrieved (19 July 2014) From http://maps.google.com/help/maps/mapcontent/transit/index.html

H, Barb  (26 September 2012). Embark Mobile Mass Transit Apps Surpass 40 Million Trips. Retrieved (19 July 2014) From http://www.appcraver.com/app-news/embark-mobile-mass-transit-apps-surpass-40-million-trips/