In February of 2014, more Americans accessed the Internet through mobile smart devices than they did through conventional computers. This is the very first time that this has happened. Up until this year, mobile internet use has always been something of a secondary concern for marketers. Sure, certain forward-thinking individuals have been predicting for years that mobile access would one day be the future of the web, but now the data is backing them up, which means that marketers—specifically social media marketers— had better start taking the medium seriously if they want to stay competitive. However, the fact is that mobile computing differs from conventional computing in several key areas. As such, before they can get the most out of the ever-growing mobile customer base, there are a few things that they should probably remember:
1. Different platforms have different mobile followings
When investing in mobile social media marketing, the question arises: Which social platforms should you concentrate your efforts on? The easy answer is “all of them,” but the reality is that certain platforms have a higher percentage of mobile users than others. Take Facebook, for example. As of June, 2014, Facebook has far and away the most active users (900,000,000) of any social networking site. The next most popular site is Twitter, with 310,000,000 active users.
Then, further down the list you’ve got less popular sites such as Instagram, which can only boast 100,000,000 active users. But when you begin to take a look at the percentage of the time spent on those sites via mobile devices versus conventional computers, things start to look a little different. Of the 900,000,000 active Facebook users, only 68% access the site from mobile devices, whereas Instagram gets 98% of its traffic from mobile visitors. So, when you’re developing your mobile social media marketing strategy, be sure to take not only overall popularity into account, but to also consider mobile popularity.
2. Mobile social marketing is a two-way street
Perhaps the most obvious difference between conventional marketing and social marketing is engagement. Social media allows customers and businesses to interact directly. Rather than having to simply absorb advertisements as they are directed outward from the marketing team, customers can now make their own voices heard as they converse directly with the company over an open, public forum. And while this particular advantage isn’t unique to mobile communication, it is amplified by the fact that mobile users have increased access to their social networks at all hours of the day.
Nearly 80% of Americans age 18–44 keep their smartphones with them at least 22 hours of every day, and those mobile users who are active on Facebook spend on average 32 minutes and 51 seconds daily accessing the social site. Not only do mobile social networkers like to be able to speak up, but they also like to do it often.
3. Pages are viewed differently on mobile devices
57% of mobile users will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load, and 30% will abandon a purchase if the transaction isn’t optimized for mobile devices. This is because when users access the internet via mobile devices, they don’t want to have to deal with the headache of trying to access a conventional site on an unconventional device. See, mobile devices generally have much smaller screens than traditional computer monitors, which means that conventional, non-optimized sites when viewed on mobile devices will either be displayed in miniature, or they will only display a portion of the page.
At the same time, most mobile users have to rely on their own inaccurate fingertips (the width of the average adult index finger is 1.6–2 cm long, which translates into 45–57 pixels) for site navigation, rather than the clearly defined mouse cursor associated with desktop computing. This means that small page targets which would be easy to access with a mouse cursor can be next to impossible to accurately interact with on a mobile device. This kind of discrepancy can be all the more off-putting when users link to unoptimized sites from optimized ones, so be sure that any interested prospects that you draw in via social media won’t be instantly repulsed by a site that doesn’t work with mobile devices.
4. Mobile users take more information (but in smaller chunks)
From December 2012 to December 2013, the average number of times per day that Americans accessed their smartphones rose from fewer than five times to at least seven. Given that more and more people are using mobile devices to access social networks numerous times throughout the day, it may seem as though users are ready for longer, more in-depth pieces of content. However, the reality is that even though more time is being spent on social media sites, the individual sessions are actually much shorter.
A quick minute here and there between other activities doesn’t allow for as much immersion. As such, users are more likely to respond favorably to short, to-the-point content. Likewise, visual content that can be taken in at glance and easily shared with friends or through hashtags may be much more profitable among mobile users.
5. Mobile social media marketing uses an inverted funnel
Most conventional marketers are familiar with the concept of the sales funnel. In essence, it describes the process of drawing from a large pool of potential leads, and then slowly weeding out the prospects which aren’t interested or seem as though they will be unprofitable in the long-run, until only a few who are ready to become customers remain at the “bottom” of the funnel. Mobile social media marketing takes the traditional sales funnel and turns it on its head.
Instead of starting with a large pool of leads, it focuses on gaining the attention of individual users. Then, as the single user is converted, he or she shares their interest with other friends, who in turn become the targeted individuals, who then share with others, and so on. This exponential customer acquisition is really the heart of social media marketing, and is made all the more effective thanks to mobile devices.