Business is going social, and social is going mobile. An overwhelming 94% of marketers surveyed in Social Media Examiner’s comprehensive 2012 Social Media Marketing Report indicated using social media for their business; Facebook and Twitter are still the two most-widely used social media networks. The majority of both Facebook (51%) and Twitter (55%) users now access the sites via their mobile devices, with over 425 million Facebook and 77 million Twitter users going social mobile.
Given these facts, businesses need to approach their social media strategy through a mobile lense. What does this mean?
Twitter’s success with character-limited tweets and Facebook’s switch to Timeline (along with its recent billion-dollar acquisition of photo-sharing app developer Instagram) suggest that the future of social mobile is fast-moving and visual.
Oh yea, and expensive.
Twitter is considered a micro-blogging site because posts are limited to 140 characters or fewer. Originally, this character limitation was implemented to make Twitter compatible with mobile phones and text messaging. Now, it‘s a useful characteristic that allows users to receive rapid-fire information in real-time.
Facebook riffed on this concept when it added a real-time ticker to its popular news feed. Facebook users can now enjoy a constant stream of information coming in from followers a-la-Twitter feed. The addition of Ticker paved the way for the more visually-oriented Timeline page structure, and brought us all one step closer to complete information overload.
LET’S GET VISUAL
“It’s a lot more visual,” wrote Sam Lessin, a product manager at Facebook, about the Facebook Timeline.³
Put these two statements together, and you begin to see the reasoning behind Facebook’s recent acquisition of Instagram. It’s been said that Mark Zuckerberg always saw Facebook as a mobile platform if the technology at the time of its founding had allowed for it.
Unfortunately, it didn’t, and instead Facebook has grown up as a desktop-centric social media network. Instagram achieved what Facebook never could: viral growth on mobile, specifically mobile photo-sharing.
Twitter is not especially visual. Yes, you can share photos, video, etc on Twitter feeds (pretty much anything with a URL link), but pictures are not the focus. Twitter is all about providing a simple and concise platform for sharing information instantaneously.
On February 28th, Twitter mobile announced it would start adding promoted tweets (ads that double as tweets) to the mobile timeline inside Twitter’s iPhone and Android apps. The next day Facebook revealed that it was doing essentially the same thing, turning brand content into ads that show up in your mobile news feed.
Before this, Facebook had no way to make any money from its mobile apps; Facebook recognized this lack of revenue as a big enough problem that it listed its mobile platform as an investment risk in its IPO filing.³
Facebook brands can now turn popular news updates into sponsored stories that show on Facebook’s website and mobile apps. Rather than hitting viewers over the head with outright advertising, these stories have a similar status to updates from his or her friends and family members.²
Twitter’s promoted tweets slip fairly seamlessly into the unending digital timeline stream, although to what extent users will interact with these ads remains to be seen.
Businesses need to make sure their Facebook and Twitter strategies adapt to the changing atmosphere of social mobile. Once you’ve defined your target audience and identified which social media sites it frequents, you need to create social mobile-friendly content that is concise and visual.
Consider experimenting with sponsored ads on Facebook and Twitter, as long as you recognize that doing so may be a bit of a dice roll.
You’re likely better off following proven inbound marketing best practices by creating fresh and original web-based content your target audience finds useful and entertaining, and sharing this content on Facebook, Twitter, and other relevant social media sites.
2012 may be remembered as the year of social mobile. Make sure your business has a plan in place to ride the wave.
¹ Appolicious, “More than 50 Percent of Facebook’s Monthly Active Users on Mobile Apps”
² Hubspot, “Guide to Facebook Business Page Timelines”
³ Venture Beat, “Facebook’s mobile ad strategy is a risk for Facebook and its advertisers”