THE MISUSE OF MOBILE CAN HURT YOU
Smartphones serve as a connective tissue, binding a person
with the world around them through features such as ubiquitous
Web access, email capability, geo-location and apps for
every conceivable need. Mobile is changing the world.
This new dynamic creates challenges. For the individual, the
challenge is setting personal boundaries without appearing
disconnected. For the businessperson, however, the challenge
resides in delivering valuable content and an immersive experience
while abiding by the law and respecting the boundaries
of both internal and external customers.
So, where do we draw the line on acceptable mobile conduct?
The following are some general guidelines.
When using mobile, companies must comply with CAN-SPAM
laws and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations to avoid
penalties. Using a subscriber opt-in process ensures that the user
accepts the firm’s terms and conditions and agrees to receiving
relevant messages. Meanwhile, the opt-out feature allows the
user to unsubscribe at will.
By converging mobility, communication and geo-location with
the consumer’s behavioral, demographic and psychographic
data, mobile offers unparalleled messaging capabilities. With a
better understanding of the customer and his location, companies
can deliver relevant, contextualized messages in real-time
to facilitate the transaction at any stage along the buying continuum,
explains Michael J. Becker, Managing Director, North
America at Mobile Marketing Association. When used with traditional
marketing, advertisers get a bigger bang for their marketing
buck. For example, a company can send a shopper,
within range of an advertised product in the print circular, a
mobile ad to provide reassurance, drive the purchase and close
Although beneficial, the influx of real-time information that
mobile provides businesses raises consumer privacy concerns.
“There has been a steady drumbeat of attention to consumer
privacy issues by the FTC, Congress and states,” says
Monica Desai, Partner at Patton Boggs, a Washington D.C.-
based law firm. “Companies that collect and use consumer information
need to be cautious. To lower risk, and particularly
enforcement risk, we advise our clients to keep their privacy
policies current, make sure employees understand
and follow those policies and conduct annual audits of privacy
Smartphone users are a perceptive audience and when it comes
to using mobile, they expect coupons, QR codes and apps to
work. President/CMO of Content Active Leisa Holland-Nelson
recommends that companies test apps across multiple platforms
and with various service providers.
“Just because an app works with one, never assume it will
work in all environments,” said Holland-Nelson. “Do your
homework, check your plan and look for the holes.”
B2B is adopting the social expectation that people should respond
immediately to text messages.
“Management’s accessibility to employees 24/7 can be perceived
as a form of abuse and result in human resource issues,”
said Holland-Nelson. “Furthermore, disregarding a person’s
boundaries, timing and privacy can hurt the company’s reputation.
Be respectful of your employees, partners and customers
at all times.”
Curb Texting & Driving
Lastly, an employer can be held liable for the negligence of employees,
agents and contractors. To minimize liability, employers
should create policies that prohibit mobile device usage
while driving and ban employees from texting while driving on
company time. Furthermore, employers who issue company
cellphones or vehicles to employees should warn employees of
the dangers of texting while driving and point them to the company
policy and the applicable state laws for review.
Finally, with its ability to transmit a message instantly to
multiple people across multiple platforms, mobile is powerful.
Always think twice before hitting “send,” and remember to exercise
About the Author: Michelle Wicmandy is a regular contributor to Website Magazine,
a lecturer at the University of Houston Downtown and an executivelevel
marketing and business development professional.