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It’s the portmanteau to end all portmanteaus: SoLoMo (social, local, mobile) now has a “Co” tacked onto the end. But it’s that little “Co” that gives the “So,” the “Lo,” and the “Mo” their reason to be.

What’s interesting is that while everyone agrees on what SoLoMo stands for, the “Co” is up for interpretation.

“Co” doesn’t necessarily mean “commerce,” DigitasLBi SVP/Brand Strategy Lead Brooke Skinner told Direct Marketing News in advance of her presentation on SoLoMo at the 2013 Direct Marketing Association show in Chicago.

“The natural tendency for marketers is to go straight to the stuff that proves sales: Show me the one-to-one relationship,” Skinner says. “But what’s really interesting to me is how SoLoMo acts as a runway towards commerce rather than a direct one-to-one interaction where I drop you an email and you redeem a coupon.”

“Co” can also mean “community” or “communication.” In essence, one could argue that “SoLoMo” + “Co” + “Co” = “Co.” (High school algebra flashback; shudder.) Social engagement mixed with local activation and a dash of mobile, community, and conversation equals sales.

“SoLoMo gives us the ability to have a deeper relationship and a dialogue with consumers, a constant feedback,” Skinner says.

Assuming the consumer wants that. Because when I think of engaging in some kind of continual ever-ongoing conversation with a brand…well, I’m just not into that. I’m exhausted at the thought. I don’t even want to see my friends that often.

But the watchword, as always, is value.

“No, I don’t care if, say, Pepsi wants to talk to me about buying Pepsi, but I do want to know about people who like the same music I do who might be going to an event Pepsi’s sponsoring,” Skinner says. “A lot of SoLoMo is about identifying the conversations that matter to the people you’re trying to reach.”

Skinner says the “burden of proof is on us as marketers to know our people.” In other words, the days of strictly transactional marketing are over. Many consumers are looking for a two-way conversation with a brand they like, but the interaction has to be meaningful and personally relevant to make its mark. SoLoMo helps foster that connection; and once the connection is fostered, the next likely step in dollar signs.

Easier said than done, of course. Not sure how to approach an ongoing two-way conversation with your customers? Skinner likens it to hitting on someone in a bar.

“You wouldn’t go straight up to someone and say, ‘My name’s Brooke, I’m this old, I make this much money—want to get married?’ But you would go up to someone and say, ‘How are you? Let’s get to know each other,” Skinner says.

Today, the road to commerce is paved with SoLoMo-powered conversations.

“The way we engage with consumers today is more intimate than it was in the past and the way you reach out to people does matter,” she says. “That’s why we have to approach consumers openly and in a way that doesn’t just feel like a simple transaction.”

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