Is the growing use of social media on mobile phones good for brands? Does it change the rules of engagement?
These are interesting questions in the wake of a recent report by eMarketer that estimates 28 million people in the U.S. will use Twitter on a mobile device year. On the surface, it seems fairly impressive given it’s a 22% increase from 2011.
But it’s important to keep things in perspective as Twitter mobile users will account for only 11.4% of mobile devices users and 8.8% of the total population.
At the same time, eMarketer estimates Facebook will have close to 100 million people use a mobile devices to access the service.
However you want to slice and dice the numbers, the growing use of mobile means brands will have to take a different approach to social media.
Given the smaller amount of real estate and how people use mobile devices, brands will have to explore ways to engage and connect with consumers in ways that deliver quicker and relevant experiences.
For example, someone may not want to spend a lot of time scrolling through their Twitter timeline but they will want to know what’s happening and who’s engaging with them. And they will want the ability to publish (text, videos and photos) quickly and easily.
The same goes for Facebook, which will have to meet the needs of mobile users in different ways. Maybe people won’t want to spend a lot of time looking at their news feeds, but connecting with friends will still be important.
From a financial standpoint, the key issue is how well Twitter and Facebook will be able to monetize their mobile presences.
From Facebook’s latest quarterly results, it looks like it is making solid progress but there is still a lot of work to be done to figure out how Facebook can effectively meet the needs of advertisers.
The same goes for Twitter, which is looking to drive revenue growth as it positions itself for a much-speculated IPO. The question is how does Twitter integrate advertising into a mobile experience given it doesn’t have much real estate and, at the same time, it can’t impact the user experience too much.
Mobile is an exciting but challenging place for lots of companies looking to deliver products and services that meet the needs of on-the-go consumers.
For Twitter, Facebook and other social media services, the key consideration right now is making sure they deliver user-friendly mobile experiences to lots of people.
With a large audience on board, they can then focus on how to make mobile pay off financially.