Mobile Social Media Exploding According to New Research

social media research Are you looking for the latest trends in social media marketing?

Has your business kept up with the growing mobile social media opportunities?

New research seems to show all roads leading to mobile. Whether we’re talking about Facebook, YouTube or the latest new toy, Snapchat—research shows that well-executed mobile strategies will offer the biggest payoff for marketers.

Here’s a summary of the latest research…

#1: Facebook Mobile is the Largest Source of Social Traffic

According to Shareaholic’s Social Media Traffic Report (October 2013), publishers saw average referral traffic from Facebook mobile grow 253% between September 2012 and September 2013!

There are two reasons for this. First, as of September 2013, 874 million people used Facebook’s mobile app, up by 45% from the year before. Second, smartphone use has reached critical mass here in the U.S. (53% of Americans are smartphone owners).

mobile-referral-traffic

Mobile is a powerful source of social traffic.

We’ve talked about this before, but it’s important enough that it bears repeating. Your number-one priority at this point is to figure out how your Facebook marketing fits into your mobile strategy. Start by taking the following simple steps:

  • Make sure your status updates are short and to the point. Long status updates will turn mobile users away (unless you’re Mari Smith!).
  • Shorten your links using bit.ly or any other URL-shortening tool.
  • You already know how important it is to use plenty of visual content on Facebook. However, it’s equally important that images are easy to understand. Some infographics that marketers post on Facebook are very difficult to see on a mobile screen.

#2: Geo-Targeting Puts Mobile on the Map

Perhaps the most exciting advance in mobile marketing is geo-targeting—being able to pinpoint the exact whereabouts of your customers so you can deliver relevant ads.

According to eMarketer, brands are extremely eager to make their ads more contextually relevant and so spending on geo-targeted ads is growing rapidly.

geo-targeted-ad-spend

Marketers are eager to spend more money on geo-targeted ads.

Actionable Marketing Tips:

If you have a physical location, you should consider investing in geo-targeted ads as part of your mobile strategy.

Since most U.S. ad buyers are looking to make their dollars stretch, geo-targeting and couponing could be great opportunities to explore. With almost 100 million Americans redeeming digital coupons in 2012, there’s clearly a large and growing mobile user base that marketers can target better.

Consider a couponing strategy based on Foursquare or Facebook Places, and ensure that customers redeem at a high rate by offering something relevant and worthwhile.

#3: Snapchat and Instagram Gain Social Currency

Although Facebook remains the number-one photo-sharing site on the Internet, Snapchat is driving impressive photo-sharing traffic with 350 million photos per day!

A Pew Research survey found that 9% of cell phone owners now use Snapchat and 18% of cell phone owners use Instagram.

photo-sharing

Photo sharing has become an essential part of the online social experience. Image source: iStockphoto

These numbers might seem small, but Snapchat and Instagram are relatively new platforms that have not been fully explored. Still, they’re growing at a rapid pace, represent real-time engagement and with the right approach could offer marketers big opportunities to reach new customers.

Actionable Marketing Tips:

Photo and video sharing have become an integral part of the online social experience. Here are some tips you could copy from pioneering marketers:

  • Discounts—NYC-based yogurt shop 16 Handles ran a promotion using Snapchat. First, they asked customers to take a Snapchat image of themselves eating one of their yogurts on site and send it to the company’s Snapchat account. Then the company automatically sent a Snapchat image of a discount coupon back to the user’s account. Finally, the user would have to wait to open the snap containing the discount coupon until he or she was at the register and ready to redeem it, because once the image is opened it automatically deletes itself 10 seconds later.
  • EventsEncourage your event attendees to take Snapchat pictures or videos from the event location and share them with their friends. This creates excitement and buzz as users share their experiences of your event among themselves.
  • Share insider informationSend “leaked” images of your latest product or information to your most loyal customers to create excitement and interest around your brand (tip of the hat to Amy Birch at Social Media Today).
  • Check out these additional tips for using Instagram.

#4: Use of Video for Marketing Is a Must!

Video is everywhere! It’s even in your customers’ pockets (or purses) in the form of mobile apps for Vine, Instagram, YouTube and more recently Snapchat (see #3 above).

In fact, a recent poll conducted by eMarketer found that 93% of marketers had used video for online marketing, sales or communications at some point in 2013, up from 81% in 2012. Falling costs of video production plus the elimination of barriers to video content distribution have made this trend possible.

emarketer-video-usage-stats

Use video in your marketing, sales or communications.

Here’s an interesting narrative about the state of video in 2013.

Actionable Marketing Tips:

When developing your video strategy, think about where your customers are in the sales process (their “customer journey”) and then create several videos that align with the different stages:

  • For brand awareness, you should have a video to introduce potential customers to your brand or service.
  • When they decide that they want to know more about your brand, consider offering them a “solutions overview” video to address some of their challenges.
  • Toward the end of the customer journey, you should have several product videos to demonstrate how your product works or what benefits it offers. Cisco makes over 1000 videos per year, just to make sure that their prospects understand the product throughout all phases of their customer journey.

#5: Social Media Skills Lacking

Social media is no longer optional for most organizations in the U.S. But there’s a problem—lack of training! A survey by Altimeter Group found that basic employee skills in social media use are seriously lacking.

Only 18% of those surveyed believed that employees have a good or very good understanding of social media or the organization’s social media policies. 61% of organizations have zero or ad hoc training programs for social media.

Untrained social media employees can cause significant problems for your business—for example, damage to your brand’s reputation, disclosure of confidential information and even regulatory or compliance violations.

social-media-training-lack

Employees are not getting proper social media training.

Actionable Marketing Tips:

Here are some proven ways to train your employees in social media marketing:

  • Define clear objectives for using social media.
  • Establish safeguards to protect both employees and customers in relation to social media use; for example, a social style guide and a clear social media policy.
  • Provide professional training to empower employees to use social media tools; for example, Social Media Marketing World is coming up in March 2014 and is a great opportunity to train your employees and managers.

Here are some more ideas for training your staff.

Over to You

What do you think? Which of these social trends will you adopt? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Images from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, Patricia Redsicker

Patricia Redsicker writes research reviews for Social Media Examiner. She is the Social Media Manager at US Pharmacopeia, a public standards setting organization. Follow her on Twitter at @predsicker. Other posts by »




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  • Vinny Polston

    Long time reader but finally starting to put some of this into practice myself. The growth from Sharaholic’s traffic report is astounding! 253% is just crazy numbers! It just continues to remind us why we need to be mobile friendly.

    I definitely agree with you on making sure that infographics that some marketers put out just get wacky on mobile – losing so much potential traffic generation. I loved your thoughts on utilizing Snapchat for discount coupons – the urgency just has a nice affect :) As always thanks for the great article!

  • predsicker

    Thanks for reading Vinny – Yes, the traffic report is amazing and like you said, all this stuff just reveals the urgency with which marketers should be leveraging mobile. I’m excited to see where Snapchat will go (as a company and as a product)!

  • http://jameshalloran.net/ James R. Halloran

    Wow, great insights! 253 percent increase on Facebook mobile is an extreme percentage! That’s also a keen insight in video sharing. Personally, I feel Instagram is going to surpass Vine and Snapchat altogether. That’s not to say Vine and Snapchat still don’t have their particular value, however. I just think it holds the most potential as a marketing tool at the moment.

    I also like what you said about the need to train employees with social media use. There’s a lot of research that indicate customers resort to social media as a way to resolve problems directly before posting a negative review of your company online. If you ignore the conversation about your brand online, you’re best assured to have negative reviews written about your company out of what your customers perceive as “ignorance” and “neglect.”

    Definitely a smart idea to train your employees now before you have a PR nightmare on your hands.

    Anyway, thanks a bunch for sharing your research!

  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    I love the tips and advice for Snapchat! It’s exciting to have a new channel with an entirely different concept. Would you recommend a brand get their own phone number and using that number to connect with fans?

    It’s a shame social media training isn’t a focus, especially when you see so many smart people lacking best practices. Personally, I try to educate (in a non-arrogant way) wherever possible! If I was committing an error in any other field, I’d want to know!

  • predsicker

    Thanks for your feedback James. I believe your confidence in Instagram is not misplaced – it’s just a more practical tool. It’s very difficult to market with a 6-second video or a photo that self-destructs after 10 seconds. But these are the very things that force innovation & creativity. Cheers James :)

  • predsicker

    Hi Sarah, thanks for your feedback on social media training. That particular piece of research is quite revealing isn’t it? I mean I can’t imagine that a serious brand would want to use social media marketing without getting basic training – but alas, it is really happening! And yes, I guess it would help to have a dedicated mobile number to connect with fans via Snapchat.

  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    Thanks for your response! Do you know if you can set up two Snapchat accounts on the same phone? Or would you need to set up an entirely new one?

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Powerful research, Patricia! I think everyone should be taking advantage of
    leveraging their brand using these social media strategies for mobile
    since more than half of Americans are using Smartphones. Also, thanks
    for the “Actionable Marketing Tips”!

  • http://www.nolongerunemployed.com/ Matt Schmidt

    Instagram seems to be the hottest or at least one of the hottest things. Interesting to see 18 percent using it on their phones now. I would like to see what that figure is a year from now!

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  • http://www.canadawebservices.com/ Steve

    I agree that mobile social media as well as number of mobile users using internet are drastically increasing each and every day. Now the internet market and business is moving towards mobile phones!









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