The biggest mobile event of the year, Mobile World Congress 2013, is a few days away and industry watchers will be on the lookout for the latest products and services the mobile world has to offer. And with consumer usage of mobile devices soaring, the opportunity for marketers to engage with mobile customers and prospects has never been higher.
In the past, when pundits have talked about this being "the year of mobile," they have focused primarily on two aspects of mobile marketing: untapped mobile banner advertising inventory and location-based mobile marketing. However, today, that is simply the tip of the iceberg. There is now a wealth of other tools available to marketers, and for those who haven't made mobile a priority, now is the time to jump on board.
Why? We have listed three key trends that set the stage for social-mobile to leapfrog the desktop experience. And why brands should refocus their marketing lens to accommodate that shift:
1. Facebook mobile has exploded. In Facebook's most recent earnings report, the company revealed the growing, inevitable power of the mobile user. For the first time, Facebook's mobile daily active users - at 680 million - exceeded non-mobile users. That, coupled with the fact that Facebook's mobile app was the number one used app in the U.S. in 2012, points to a huge, captive audience for marketers on mobile. And it's an audience that Facebook is designing its future on: "A lot of what we had to do last year was simply to improve our mobile development process," Mark Zuckerberg said at the announcement of Facebook's new geo-location products this month. "The next thing we're going to do is get really good at building new mobile-first experiences."
2. Social-mobile communities are soaring. In addition to Facebook, all of the top social communities - Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest - are growing on mobile, and indeed mobile Internet usage is increasing, while desktop Internet usage is declining. Behavior on smartphones is changing too, as consumers become savvier. Nearly 86 million Americans are now shopping on their smartphones - an activity practically unheard of just two years ago. Starbucks, for example, is now logging more than one million mobile purchases a week in the U.S.
3. Diverse monetization opportunities exist for social-mobile platforms. Over the past year, we have seen the introduction of a number of new ad units that are particularly well suited for mobile. Just the other day, eMarketer reported that Facebook's mobile-optimized ads - such as Sponsored Stories in the mobile newsfeed - are performing many times better than "traditional" mobile banner ads. Twitter now offers brands Promoted Accounts, Tweets, and Trends, all of which are incorporated into its mobile experience. Brands are embracing Instagram in all kinds of ways through branded hashtag communities. Tactics such as offering mobile coupons and mobile-friendly website opt-ins for email list building invite mobile into every marketing campaign and strategy. These advertising vehicles should be an inspiration for marketers looking to break free from the restrictive confines of banner advertising and encourage experimentation with mobile-optimized marketing experiences even beyond Facebook.
How to Catch the Mobile Marketing Wave
What best practices should smart marketers consider to fully take advantage of the mobile opportunity? First and foremost, marketers should employ a "mobile-first" attitude. Every digital consumer touch point should assume a mobile viewer and employ mobile best practices wherever possible. Every digital campaign, website, and email should be easy to read, simple, and friction-free on mobile.
Content and calls-to-action need to recognize the "context" of the consumer: where she is, how much time she has, and how easy it is to interact with screen prompts. Remembering that the mobile consumer has to use a touch screen interface and would rather not have to type too much are simple user experience best practices. Additionally, offering registration through services like LinkedIn, Facebook Connect, or Twitter increases the likelihood that the mobile user will sign up for offerings and also opens up opportunities for one-click sharing to mobile newsfeeds to increase viral sharing.
Remember, consumers are just as likely to see your social campaigns on their phone as they are on their desktop computer, so there's no time to be wasted putting social-mobile front and center of all your outreach.
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Roger Katz is the CEO and founder of Friend2Friend, a social media technology and solutions company that works with global brands and media agencies. Launched in 2007, Friend2Friend works with over 100 global brands through its offices in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Barcelona, Spain. During Roger's 20 years working in marketing, strategy, and social media, his career has included management and consulting roles at companies such as Photobucket, Agilent, Brocade, Quantum, Bell Labs, and Pacific Community Ventures, as well as a number of startups. Behind his marketing mind lies deep engineering expertise. He has engineering degrees from Michigan State and UC Berkeley and an MBA from Wharton. He's a cycling fanatic, aspiring guitarist, and (slow) swimmer.