The Convergence of Social and Mobile


Buzzy bee

Mobile devices are inherently social. Unlike other mediums, the mobile phone was designed at its core to connect people one-to-one. With the advent of the iPhone in 2007 and subsequent rapid growth of smartphone users in the US, consumers are increasingly dependent on their mobile devices for everything from calling a friend to reading the news to purchasing goods.

The era of mobile information consumption and social networking is here.

Over half of the US population already owns a smartphone. By mid-2013, the number of global smartphone and tablets actually in use is predicted to exceed that of PCs, according to Mary Meeker’s most recent State of the Internet presentation. Today, we are seeing a seismic shift in consumer behavior, with mobile devices quickly replacing PCs as the primary device for information consumption.

37% of these smartphone owners check social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn daily, and more than half of Twitter usage is mobile. Marketers know that they need to be where their customers are — and today that means on mobile devices. According to eMarketer, US mobile ad spend jumped from $1.45 billion to $4.06 billion in just 12 months — a 180% increase year-over-year — with the majority of this ad-spend occurring on social networks.

The recent mobile ad product offerings by social networking sites such as “Sponsored Stories” from Facebook and “Promoted Tweets” from Twitter (LinkedIn also expects to have a mobile ad product soon) have been groundbreaking in garnering click through rates at a magnitude greater than any other format we have seen to date.

Part of the reason for this success is attributed to the fact that the ad content is created organically — from social interactions between the brand and the friends of the user — creating a more authentic and relevant experience. Furthermore, this authenticity and relevance allows the ad to occupy a larger amount of the screen real estate on mobile without disrupting or detracting significantly from their experience. These factors combined result in ads that are simultaneously more personalized and prominent.

If organically-created social content is the most successful form of mobile advertising, the two strategies can no longer be approached separately. Social and mobile are converging, and marketers must adapt to leverage this relationship.