A perfect storm. Mobile and social have converged.
Today, you cannot execute a business social strategy without executing a mobile strategy. According to Flurry, a leading mobile analytics provider, social networking accounts for 32 percent of all time spent using mobile applications, second only to gaming. Mary Meeker from KPBC estimates that by 2013 there will be 800 million social mobile users worldwide. According to Twitter, over 40 percent of Tweets are composed on mobile. And Facebook, with more than 250 million mobile users, reports that people who use Facebook on their mobile devices are twice as active as non-mobile users.
You cannot support social business without supporting mobile. Your shared content, web presence and communication strategy need to be focused on the mobile user.
The Content Economy
The engine that drives social business is in-bound marketing. Over 30 billion pieces of content are shared every month on Facebook alone. For business, the opportunity is to generate compelling content people want to read and share. Content generally comes in two forms: web pages and documents.
Web pages need to resolve on mobile devices. However, most organizations are challenged to support this key requirement. As I have written before, 97 percent of organizations launch mobile websites using a different domain from their primary website, whether “M Dot” or another designation. Because the primary website and mobile solution use different domains, a web page shared on Facebook or Twitter will often not be optimized for mobile.
In order to truly support in-bound marketing and user expectations, marketers should maintain one URL for every web page and display the content contextually for a mobile device or a PC visitor. If mobile and PC content have been separated onto different domains, the web server should forward mobile users to the correct version of the page for their device.
Sharing documents raises another set of challenges for mobile users. In an ideal world, all of the content used in in-bound marketing programs for social media would have a web view optimized for phones. However, the reality is that many forms of content, such as white papers and financial information, originate in a document format. When sharing documents via social media, it is best to use the Adobe PDF format over Microsoft Word or another document type. E-readers, such as the Amazon Kindle app and Apple iBooks, read PDF. Moreover, a PDF can be stored in the reader’s library, ensuring the content can be saved and accessed at any time.
Increase Mobile Conversions
There is an art to mobile conversion. Getting people to fill out a webinar registration form or purchase a product from their phones may be a challenge, but supporting mobile conversions is critical for in-bound marketing, out-bound email marketing programs, and social media campaigns.
In the mobile era you need to rethink conversion.
- Optimize mobile registration forms and landing pages. Web forms should support touch-based interactions and gestures, such as tapping a field to change the focus area or to expand a selection box. jQuery mobile provides a good starting point with mobile forms capabilities using standards-based web forms. Landing pages should support a mobile view and deliver the right mix of content and calls-to-action. One approach that works well for mobile users is supporting micro-sites that provide related landing pages and can offer more content and value proposition to help tip the mobile user.
- Shorten registration forms. You can use progressive engagement to build the information about the prospect overtime. You do not need to capture every piece of information the first time a mobile user registers.
- Say goodbye to cookies. The proliferation of mobile devices means that online marketers can no longer count on using cookies as the unique identifier for website visitors. For campaigns and websites that place a premium on user profiles, providing sign-in using Facebook or Twitter accounts can increase the conversion for both PC and mobile users.
- Provide mobile context. People will be much more likely to complete a transaction or register with a website if it provides an optimized mobile experience. Supporting mobile creates a higher level of trust with the user and gives them confidence that their mobile purchase or registration will be successful.
Timing is Everything
According to link sharing service Bit.ly, once you post a link on social media there is a three hour window when people are most likely to follow the link. After three hours the post slips down in the stream and draws little attention. A compelling piece of content may extend that awareness window up to fifteen hours, but generally social media posts have a very short shelf life.
Because the window for sharing content is so small, you need to be strategic about when you share content. The best time to share content will vary based on target and social network. According to analytics vendor Kiss Metrics, the high-point of activity on Facebook peaks at 12 PM Eastern. This is when the highest available audience is signed-on. My theory is that mobile usage drives this peak time. I can imagine people on the East Coast firing up their social apps as they go to lunch, while people on the West Coast are commuting to the office.
The savvy social media marketer should schedule content based on the availability of the audience and the types of devices they will be most likely use to view the content. A hot piece of news should be released no later than noon EST on a weekday while a new white paper or webinar registration may get better a click-through rate later in the day when people are at their desks.
Other Social Business Use Cases
While this article has focused primarily on social media marketing, there is a wide range of social business use cases that need to account for mobile users.
- Social Intranets provide a much higher level of engagement over traditional Intranets. Mobile has the ability to take engagement to the next level by supporting field staff and expanding accessibility. Supporting mobile Intranet users requires changing the content strategy from document-centric approach to web-based publishing and activity streaming.
- Social Customer Support delivers real-time customer support and can turn irate customers into evangelists. However, you will not win many Facebook fans or garner many Tweets if the support materials and information you share is not optimized for mobile viewing.
- Communities and Voice of the Customer programs create a new level of engagement with customers, build trust and authority, increase conversions and deliver measurable business value. But just as Facebook users are twice as active on mobile devices, business communities need to deliver a premium mobile experience to their most active users.
- 4When you think Location-Based Services, you think mobile. Whether providing check-in capabilities on a university campus, supporting links from customer reviews on Yelp or building your presence on Foursquare, it is essential to optimize and strategize for mobile users.
Social media has gone mobile. Any business making the leap to social business needs to support mobile delivery of content and plan their marketing strategy -- from content development to conversion -- around mobile user experiences and expectations.
Despite the fact that social business is mobile business, for many organizations there is a disconnect between mobile strategy and social marketing. The vast majority of mobile websites do not support in-bound marketing programs and use different domains and URLs. In-bound marketing materials are still produced as documents that are hard to read on mobile devices. Web forms and landing pages do not meet mobile user expectations or provide the level of trust that a true mobile experience delivers. Social campaigns are not scheduled around audience availability and mobile device usage.
Mobile impacts social strategy across the entire enterprise, from employee engagement and social Intranets, to customer support, to online business communities. Companies that are going to deliver winning social business programs need to think mobile first and align their content and marketing strategy appropriately.
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