The New Era of Mobile
A word of caution: Don't get hung up on the specific technologies—Facebook may be replaced by another community platform, just as it has, for many audiences, replaced MySpace. RFID may be usurped by another protocol. But the idea behind Facebook, Twitter and location-based technology—community and connectivity—will live on in whatever form. Become an active, engaged community-enabler now, and your publication's clout will adapt to whatever new comes along. The idea is to engage your readers and enable them to become advocates for your advertisers' brands.
Moving Beyond Facebook
Let's look again at that overcrowded train two years from now. The numbers may have changed—perhaps there are five Androids, only four iPhones and the Skiff may have replaced the Kindle as the periodical delivery vehicle of choice. I'd wager that a few still will be reading their morning news in print, and a couple of riders will be engaged in chat with their seatmates.
What about your subscriber? He or she may be any one or none of the above, but as the train pulls into the station, his mobile device's GPS system updates his location. This triggers a trusted SMS message from your publication about an advertiser's product on sale down the block (relevant because you know he just read your category buying guide online and belongs to the gym next door) along with a discount code. Before getting off the train, he mentions the deal to his seatmate. Later, when redeeming the code, social connectivity enables the reader to share the event with his network, driving traffic to your publication's site, increasing the perceived value of your brand, and virally increasing exposure and ROI for the advertiser.
This example, admittedly, is fairly straightforward and certainly possible using today's technology. But the premise—that your content, delivered through a pertinent and timely channel to readers who trust you, and who are connected and engaged with others—can be the basis for a differentiated and profitable mobile strategy for your publication.