Published 12 Feb 2018
The last ten years have seen a global revolution in mobile internet usage, and Australia is no exception. Last year, an estimated 16.69 million Australians were smartphone users. The vast majority of the Australian population is expected to be on smartphones by 2022, with analysts projecting figures to enter the 20 million mark. Only 37% of time spent on devices is spent on computers in Australia today – the rest is spent on mobiles (45%) and tablets (18%). The majority of internet usage is happening on mobiles.
But, it’s not just about the figures. What we do on our phones is different to what we do on our computers, and it’s mostly geared towards communication, sharing and instant information. The trends in smartphone usage point in one direction – smartphones and social media are evolving together into an interdependent interface.
Think of smartphones and social media as the King and Queen of communication. If they were a celebrity couple they’d be Beyonce and Jay Z, pushing each other along creatively, growing in popularity and public sway through their partnership (ignoring the cheating scandal).
It may come as no surprise to any social media junkie, but the latest surveys show that globally, 80% of all social media time is now spent on mobile phones. And, 80% of that time is spent on just three apps – Facebook, WhatsApp and Chrome, with others like Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat fast on the rise.
It makes logical sense. Social media and smartphones are a match made in heaven. Mobile internet that fits in your pocket allows for instant updates and real-time feeds – which is exactly what social media relies upon to function.
So, what does this mobile/social media ‘power-couple’ future mean for digital marketers? There are four big lessons:
Messaging, communication and having an ‘accessible’ brand
Messaging apps is the most popular social media platform being used on smartphones. This is particularly true for the youngest generation of users. Those born after 1981 use social media, texting, apps or the internet for 88% of all their communications, compared to just 36% for baby boomers.
The next generation is used to having an online dialogue via social media apps. A recent study shows that this is spilling over into engagement with companies too, with the majority of consumers preferring to make contact via messaging.
Having real, human and humorous dialogues with customers on social media can go a long way for your branding. Take the Shane Bennet/Samsung messenger exchange. A loyal customer, Bennet asked for a free smartphone in exchange for his drawing of a dragon. Instead of just turning him away, Samsung responded by sending him a drawing of a unicycle riding kangaroo. Shane posted the images to Reddit, where it went viral.
Some companies are becoming famous for their cheeky twitter exchanges – the Old Spice/Taco Bell standoff, KFC and Cap’n Krunch banter for example. Consumers who’ve grown up on social media respond to human interactions with brands, not one-way market feeds from robots.
Image is everything
With the growing popularity of Instagram and Facebook, digital marketers should take heed of the importance of images in those feeds.
Instant feeds are flicked through at the speed of light. Not only do you have to invest in great, original images in order to make people pause, you need to think about focusing on images that don’t actually look like marketing.
These days, social media users are adept at identifying marketing imagery versus real sharing. They use and appropriate the visual language of advertising with an expert eye. They’ve grown up on it. If you’re a company who’s feeding images into Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, you need to hire artists who are unusual, creative and tapped into the Zeitgeist if you want to get noticed.
Social media/mobile friendly Interfaces win
This one seems straight-forward, but it’s amazing how so many businesses still haven’t figured out that mobile appearance is even more important than desktop. There are more people using their phones for research and shopping than computers these days. In Australia, smartphone and tablets make up 63% of online activity.
If you’re marketing online, you need to make sure that your content and layout are mobile friendly and compatible with the big social media apps. Can your pages be easily shared on Facebook mobile? What do they look like when they are?
If it’s not on the big players, it doesn’t exist
Recent statistics suggest that around two-thirds of Americans get their news from Facebook, with comparable stats for Australia. Similarly, it’s estimated that worldwide, Google owns a huge 65.2% share of all online search traffic. As mentioned before, Facebook and Google Chrome are the top two social media as used on phones.
So, digital marketers – The lesson from this is simple. You need to make sure you’re searchable according to their algorithms. If you’re not on the big players, you just don’t exist online and you won’t be appearing on their phones. Considering the future is well and truly mobile, that’s where you want to be.
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