The Consumer Side of Social Media: Purchasing A Mobile Phone

For some time since the iPhone first made it’s appearance, I have been thinking about how I can keep up with the Jones’ and get into the smart phone arena. Those who also know me are the first to tell you I am not the guy that should be preaching the idea of technology or gadgets. I am the one that only uses the tool, not knowing how, why, or the what of the details. The phone rings I answer it, the email comes I type out a response. I don’t know, or for that matter don’t really care, about memory, megapixels or what flux capaciter comes with the “back end of the unit”. I have been in the market for a new desktop recently as well as a mobile phone and they sometimes offer too much information on what comes with the computer. I can get easily overwhelmed. I don’t think that in this instance I am too different than most of the real life users out there and that is why I looked to them for

I first started my initial testing of the waters by asking my real life friends how they came about purchasing their phone. Many of them had the same response. “I was given the phone by my employer”, or “I walked into the store and that one looked cool”, to the ever popular, “Scoble told me to buy this one.” Strangely enough that latter response was actually more of the popular one. I am of course picking on Robert, but this latter one is where I also paid a little more attention. The experts out there are the ones that are going to be using the best of the best. I turned my research to that area. I read blogs of the experts.

I read Engadget, Gizmodo, MobileCrunch and every other gadget blog available that had information about smart phones. I searched out their reviews and other information they had on the models available. There is a plethora of blogs you can read with information on everything and anything mobile. These are people not associated with the company or product and they truly give an independent review in my mind. Some are more specific product leaning, but for the most part they have some unbiased opinion.

I have to vent my frustration a little here because of the lack of choice we are offered as consumers based on our current service provider and the phones that are available to each service provider. I have been with Verizon since before they were Verizon and they were Airtouch Cellular and before that USWest Cellular. You might say we have established a relationship. My choices were very limited in the smart phone area so I went with a few choices, and it came down to only two that were available in my world, The Blackberry Storm and the Samsung Omnia. Yeah, I know overwhelmed with info about the phone and underwhelmed by my choices. Here endeth the frustration rant.


I then turned to another form of social media for my research. I asked my friends. Not those that I go to church with, or have dinner with, but the ones online. I reached out to my Twitter followers. When I asked more than 5000 people what they thought, I was given plenty of opinions. I loved it. Some had no opinion but a friend of a friend had good experience with this phone or that phone, or they had a bad experience but fixed it with this or that carrier. This was great “man on the street” information. I was well armed to make a decision at this point. The problem, as always, I was afraid to make a purchase of this magnitude. I couldn’t pull the trigger. I was afraid I would spend too much money and then later be angry for making the wrong choice. In spite of being completely advised, I still needed a shove. The shove came at an opportune time.

I was reading through my RSS feeds that I had subscribed to as a result of my research and found that one of the blogs had a breaking story. Verizon was offering the Blackberry Storm at a very good savings, and sure enough a check of there site showed not only a savings on that phone but on my other choice the Samsung Omnia. This was great news to me. I was armed with the information I need to make an informed decision, had seen real life experiences, saw unbiased reviews, and knew as much about the phone as anyone. I headed to the Verizon store.

A few more follow up questions later, having actually informed the sales person of some of the information I learned, and questions specific to the usage and data charges etc., and I decided on my choice of phones. I went with the Blackberry Storm. i went with the Storm because of the fact that Blackberry is well respected in the mobile community and Samsung is still lacking somewhat in my opinion. Samsung was a little too hooked into Microsoft’s software for my taste and that was another deciding factor.

I had reached out to my community to help me make a purchase. I spoke to the people I knew that had the phones. I researched blogs and the things l that the experts were touting, and I saw what my peers were also recommending. I then reached out to my community and asked for help which was more than ample to help me make a choice. Then as luck would have it because I had signed up and subscribed to some feeds I was tipped off to a sale that benefitted me in my purchase. I had used the tools available to help me. I hope that if you are reading this and you are a company you can take a look at how people are using the social media tools available to them to make informed decisions about your products and services. By looking at how I use the Internet to go from point A to point B you too might know how to get your information to the people that are searching for your products.

My next postings will be on the after purchase and use. How did the information I gathered help? How am I using social media to help me use my phone? Yes, I am now becoming addicted to my Crackberry and I can’t wait to help the next person with their decision to purchase a phone. I have become a social media evangelist of the company and they had to do nothing other than get into the social media world. Now about that choice of desktop. Is it going to be the iMac or the HP model. All these decisions are going to be helped by my use of the social media world.

UPDATE 2/10/09: Apparently, I am a real early adopter for the Storm deal that is all over the internet. Should I be worried now about what is in store for the Storm? Is another Blackerry Storm brewing?

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