Raise your hand if you remember looking to web site analytics to decide if you needed a “mobile strategy”. Honestly, that ship has sailed.
If your consumers are (and if they aren’t, just blink and they will be) deeply engaged in social media, you have no choice about your brand’s mobile strategy. Your consumers have decided for you. Consider that Facebook has more than 157 million mobile-only users today. This number is growing by 25 million a quarter. At this rate, they will surpass a quarter billion by the end of 2013. That’s more than the total number of mobile-only people who use Twitter.
Sixty-five percent of monthly users on Facebook and 71 percent on Twitter are mobile. And, according to Nielsen, 30 percent of all the time spent on mobile devices last year was on social networks.
So, let me ask: Are your social media efforts optimized for social+mobile consumers? If not, why not? And, more pertinently, are your programs even working for your social+mobile consumers?
Facebook has smartly declared itself a mobile company; Twitter doesn’t need to declare it, it already is. Consumer trends aren’t the only reason the big guys are now mobile-first. Mobile stream advertising is simply more effective. Facebook has shared that sponsored posts in the mobile news feed are exponentially more effective than right rail ads. And these ads improve another 120% when they include photos, video or interactivity.
The success of mobile as a right rail-free advertising platform is only one of many reasons why Facebook has very clearly stated that the future of advertising on its platform is in the news feed (the Facebook stream). Despite all these sign posts, the lion share of today’s Facebook media dollars are spent on right rail advertising. While that is beginning to change, brands taking a mobile first, news feed-centric approach to Facebook are still too sparse in number.
While social streams may feel like they are constantly moving faster and in unpredictable directions, as an industry we shouldn’t wait to jump in. Facebook and Twitter iterate so quickly, always learning and applying insights, mostly from mobile, to both their customer experience and marketing tools. We now see the social desktop experience as secondary to mobile for both consumers and platforms.
This mobile/social shift forces marketers to rethink their approach yet again. To borrow from Jeremiah Owyang at Altimeter, in social, all media must “converge”. These platforms force us to think about how our “owned” media and content will drive “earned” impressions through sharing and then how we will use “paid” media tactics to scale reach, engagement and outcomes. Every campaign requires we consider at least two and often we must plan for all three. When we add mobile to the mix it makes us, ah, weepy.
Here’s a tissue. It’s actually not so bad. The constraints of mobile, especially smartphones, make things simpler in some ways and surprisingly more effective. Mobile posts, especially rich ones, capture more attention and have a bigger impact on both consumers and on brand outcomes as they take over the full mobile screen. Mobile streams force us to simplify. These are not microsites or mobile apps, these are little snacks of content and a path to explore deeper. Thoughtful, rich in-stream content has been proven to drive higher engagement (especially among fans), increase reach through more People Talking About This (PTAT) and achieve higher Reach per Talker rates. And, surprisingly, consumers seem to prefer a mobile in-stream approach to social media advertising. As Facebook has enabled more and more advertising directly in the news feed, we’ve all feared consumer backlash. But we’ve found that rich in-stream media consistently receives exponentially less negative feedback than native posts
All social media marketing begins in the stream, even if you’re ultimately driving out. Just remember that your brand has been invited in and you must earn the right to stay. Mobile devices are themselves very personal and as a result, social streams are sacred real estate and should be respected as such. While consumers won’t tolerate blatant or irrelevant marketing, if you are strategic about fan acquisition and media buying strategies, your fans will have a level of affinity making them open to a wide range of posts from you, and making a mobile-first social approach the girl you should be taking to the dance.