With the rise in smartphone adoption and mobile usage, it's clear that the mobile device will become the dominant entry point for social media. Given the growth in Facebook, Twitter, and other social environments, it shouldn't be too much of a surprise to hear that comScore reports that 91 percent of mobile internet access is granted to socialize. Still, I find this number staggering. With social interactions playing such a large role in mobile use, it's time for marketers to prepare a "mobile social" strategy.
The crossroad of mobile and social is an exciting opportunity for marketers because, for the first time, a brand can create a bridge to the digital world. Everything you have been accessing from your desktop can now be linked to the physical world. Brands can reach customers in-market while shopping, eating lunch with friends, or at their kid's soccer game. In fact, Pew Research reported in September 2011 that 28 percent of all Americans use mobile or social location-based services of some kind.
Those numbers pale in comparison to some of the other means of quantifying the change of social media access and usage. According to a report compiled by Microsoft Tag, by 2014, mobile internet use will surpass desktop internet use. You can't ignore the numbers: More than one-third of Facebook's 600 million user base uses Facebook mobile, more than 50 percent of Twitter's 165 million users use Twitter mobile, and 200 million YouTube views occur on mobile devices every day. Not yet convinced? According to comScore, 72.2 million Americans accessed social networking sites or blogs on their mobile device in August 2011. Not only does this figure represent a whole lot of people, but it also reveals an audience size increase of 37 percent over the past year alone. The study also showed that more than 50 percent read a post from an organization, brand, or event while on their mobile device. More importantly, one-in-three social networkers received a coupon, offer, or deal, with 27.7 percent clicking on an ad while on a social networking site.
This shift in how we socialize digitally provides a host of location-based marketing opportunities for unique levels of customer engagement. Now that brands can market and speak to customers while they are on the go, it becomes increasingly important to understand how your customers socially interact on mobile. Customers are migrating to mobile social behavior. We recommend four ways to keep pace from the perspective of marketing strategy.
Customers are flocking to mobile access points. Brands and agencies have moved toward segmenting social media behavior, but they need to layer mobile behavior on top. The 20-something professional woman will behave differently in regard to mobile access, for example, than a retired man. Take note.
According to IBM's Smarter Commerce benchmark of online retail activity, mobile platforms were responsible for 14.3 percent of all online shopping traffic on Black Friday, more than doubling the 5.6 percent of traffic IBM recorded last year. Perhaps even more impressive, sales from mobile devices reached 9.8 percent of digital retail transactions, tripling the 3.2 percent of last year. Again, a staggering number that is tough to ignore.
Gartner predicts there will be more than 70 billion mobile application downloads annually in the next two years. Clearly, social apps are huge, but the bridge between social media and mobile apps will be well traveled. Social media strategies need to comfortably connect online with mobile experiences.
A report from Yahoo/Nielsen stated that 86 percent of web users now use a mobile device while watching TV. As a marketer, this opens up a whole new avenue for launching cross-platform social campaigns that engage the "second screen" audience.
Forbes Insights and Weber Shandwick recently released a study showing that brands predict that in three years, 65 percent of the brand's reputation will come from its online sociability. The numbers can be intimidating. However, if you focus your strategy on customer experience and customer segments, your brand can effectively cross the mobile social bridge and thrive in the new digital age.
Molly Glover Gallatin is VP of marketing for Compass Labs.
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"People texting on their cell" image via Shutterstock.
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