According to a recent report by Nielsen social network use in Australia via mobile is increasing dramatically. Half of Twitter’s users visit the site daily via mobile, 36% of Facebook users visits the site via mobile, whilst 22 percent of MySpace users and 16 percent of YouTube users were making daily visits. On a worldwide basis 100 of 400 million Facebook users access the site via mobile. Social networking is one of the fastest-growing activities among mobile users domestically and worldwide, so it makes sense that marketers and agencies alike must follow the eyeballs and develop a social mobile strategy.
The rise of the Smart Phone
In tandem with the growth of social networking on mobile the sales figures for smart phones have also risen sharply. 2009 saw Smart phones sales top 25% of all mobile devices sold. A sizeable number, but nothing compared to the Smartphone explosion analysts are predicting being nearer 40-50% for 2010. In the US alone it is predicted Smartphone this year sales will also top sales of new computers for the first time.
Combine this with the advent of 4G and perhaps the biggest trend to watch out this year is the continued evolution of Smartphone’s with more sophisticated browsers and functionality which will continue to accelerate the rise in popularity of mobile applications and the mobile web.
watch the video from CTIA 2010 of the new Samsung Galaxy S Social Hub handset below
The Cultural shift
Perhaps the most important outcome of the Smartphone explosion isn’t sales, but rather the shift in the cultural expectations of the device has radically changed the way that mobile devices impact consumers’ lives, attitudes, and in turn, how they, view the role of a mobile device to support their daily needs.
The question for brands and marketers therefore is not if to get involved, but how and what social strategy should I adopt?
So let’s start by looking at what the opportunities which are available to marketers and brands alike?
Both Social and mobile currently remain under utilised but the tide is changing with developments in:
1. Location based marketing
It’s comes as no great surprise that with the use of GPS platforms services such as Yelp, foursquare, Gowalla, Bright kite ,Loopt, My town and Glympse have presented the opportunity to help businesses offer additional services. The city of Chicago for example is making city exploration fun using foursquare whilst Lucky magazine is using the service as a digital means to promote tips from their editor-curated list of more than 600 stores nationwide. With the new tools for business to register their venues and gain free access to a free analytics watch the number of brands and agencies alike whom utilize foursquare increase dramatically over the next 12 months.
figure 1.The factors influencing social mobile strategy (click image to enlarge)
2. Augmented reality
Likewise in conjunction with location based marketing we have also begun to see the potential of augmented reality over the last 12 months and a recent mobile game developed for the WWF in China using augmented reality to inform China’s youngsters about the importance of the environment they live is testament to the possibilities of this medium on mobile.
The WWF Augmented reality case study video
Best Buy has also been experimenting with integration into social networks and used Bright kite’s augmented reality advertising platform to drive consumers in-store late last year serving up consumers store information and deals.
3. Social games
In playing out your social mobile strategy to get brands noticed nothing drives participation and builds lasting relationships better than gaming which is now spreading from online to mobile with versions of popular games being launched as apps in their own right. The convergence of games and social platforms typified by games such as Farmville are also influencing the way consumers use social networks on mobile.
Consumers now log on the mobile web both to communicate with friends and to be entertained and earn points along the way. Game playing mechanics are also spreading to mobile and Droga 5’s landmark campaign for the New York Department of Education to re-imagine education as a competition is a great example of incentivising behavior with rewards leveraging the mobile channel. Gaming represents a great opportunity for brands to think socially and have their business seen in a new light and drive meaningful participation.
4. The Application economy
With more than 3 billion downloads and 140,000 plus different applications the numbers for utilizing mobile applications as part of your social mobile strategy speak for themselves. The iPhone, in particular, allows brands to expand their product offerings beyond their traditional boundaries through the app stores built in monetization platform.
Brands who offer a compelling experience can trade on their expertise and reputation for high quality offerings by creating monetizable software. Interestingly enough last year Volkswagen took the unprecedented step of deciding to forego traditional advertising and relying solely on an IPhone application to launch the new GTi model. To date, the application has seen more than 2.1 million downloads.
However whilst I-Phone may still be the top dog,as more marketers develop mobile social strategies to connect with wider audiences, not developing applications for the Android and BlackBerry platforms will not be an option by end of 2010 as new 4G devices begin to offer viable alternatives to the I phone.
5. Mobile advertising
Mobile advertising will be an important way to monetize content on the mobile Internet, offering free applications and services to end users. The mobile channel will in due course increasingly act as a kind of “marketing glue” that allows the consumer experience to seamlessly jump between mediums: from broadcast or print to digital or even directly to point-of-sale. The net effect can dramatically amplify the effect of marketing communications used .With developments such Ad mob’s Adwhirl free ad serving tool which now gives developers the ability to use any mobile ad network and the newly launched Apple I-ad platform the future of mobile advertising in a social context is now starting to attract significant investment as revenue in traditional advertising declines. Gartner estimates in the US alone mobile advertising to reach US$7.5 billion in 2012 from US $530.2 million in 2008 with Australia having the third fastest uptake rate of the mobile web.
6. Mobile Video & TV
Since the launch of the I Phone 3GS Video has also seen 400% increase in uploads to YouTube and according to Cisco by 2013 it is estimated that video will occupy an estimated 66% of all traffic on the mobile web. Combine this with the growth in social apps like U-Stream which allows you to broadcast live from your hone and services like Bitpop and Flo TV which stream live TV programs to your phone, and whether we like it or Video is going to play a pivotal role in the expansion of mobile, as it has online. Whether it’s streaming, downloading, extra features and exclusive content the experience is increasing the influence of the handset as a first choice users turn to as a source of media as is the case in China. With the World Cup around the corner and the BBC recently announcing it would be making live games available the opportunities for brands on the mobile channel will only increase even further.
7. Social Commerce
With better phones, easily navigable mobile sites with transaction capabilities, there is now more confidence in mobile payment security and growing acceptance of mobile commerce. The ATG European attitudes to mobile commerce report showed that interest in m-commerce is rising.
As more consumers upgrade to SmartPhones, there is clear potential for certain goods and services to be sold via m-commerce with takeaways, theatre, and train, plane tickets, music and DVD’s all featuring prominently.
The future & beyond
The net effect of the mobile channels evolution is that it is dramatically altering the media landscape and consumer behavior. As Brian Solis in a recent post pointed out “for those active in social networks on behalf of businesses, please keep in mind that without a mobile strategy as well as content and engagement programs aimed at specific demographics and psychographics, you may be missing essential touch points for true engagement and collaboration.”
The challenge—and payoff—for marketers will come from finding effective ways to tap into social mobile social networks users’ locations and connecting places with people and things that offer the greatest value to the mobile consumer.
The future of social is mobile and the future of social is mobile What do think?
1.Comscore-US social networking usage report
3.Click Z-innovations in Mobile article
4.mobile marketer-2010 mobile outlook report