Social Media Goes Mobile
SOCIAL MEDIA 2013: STATISTICS AND TRENDS [Source:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yxuljHX09I]
Like the Loch Ness Monster and UFOs, social media stands as one of the world's greatest unsolved mysteries. Why is it that a large swathe of the world's population owns a smart phone and frequently uses social media, but accessing social media via smart phones isn't the preferred method?
Sorry to throw a wrench in an otherwise neat and tidy explanation of how the digital world works, but consumers still prefer to sit in front of their desktops and laptops to engage in social media. Nobody questions the trend that smartphones and tablets are quickly displacing laptops and desktops as dominant computing platforms. Why social media remains tied mostly to the older platforms is anyone's guess.
My theory begins with social media sites calling to attention the small cracks in the armor of mobile platforms. First, a good part of social media involves images best viewed on larger screens. Second, social media is experiential. Participants enjoy spending significant amounts of time on popular sites like Facebook. It's an activity that lends itself to being stationary and comfortable. (That is, if not being mobile sounds comfortable to you.)
Social media companies are doing everything they can to address the two advantages that laptop/desktop computing has over mobiles. Most Web pages, for instance, are holdovers from a bygone era. Does any mobile version of a Web page look better than the desktop version? Of course not. But that's going to change. Web experts are predicting that the future of the Internet rests with "card" designs. If each page is designed to fit an index card instead of a long scroll, then the mobile platform will become more visually appealing. Just as we flip through playing cards, the idea is that users will shuffle the various pages of Web sites instead of having to use their index finger to scroll down long lists of text and images.
The way digital consumers utilize and view the Web says a lot about their changing tastes. Web cards replacing Web pages will make social media an ideal fit for mobile platforms. So will the growth of the emerging markets, fertile territory for all things digital. How Americans and Western Europeans utilize social media sites will matter proportionately less in the grand scheme of things as millions of new users in the emerging markets take to social media. Those users will bypass the desktop entirely in favor of their smartphones.
Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the company's former marketing director, recently said that consumers increasingly will use smartphones to do most everything. Plus, they'll be able to get any piece of content on anything on their mobile devices. When "anything and everything" includes starting your car or monitoring your children at home, it's clear that mobility will triumph over the stationary desktop experience. In America, for instance, consumers spend nearly a quarter of their time using their mobile phones for social media - even though mobile still trails desktop/laptop platforms. Facebook accounts for 18 of that 24 percent.
Another reason why mobility will soon become the perfect match for social media revolves around the automotive sector. Some people are already referring to cars as the next mobile device. Whether they're self-driving models or dashboards equipped with passenger-side computing platforms, cars of the near future will place even more demands on social media networks to transform themselves entirely into mobile-friendly entities.
Imagine someday if they drained Loch Ness to prove that the monster of lore definitively didn't exist. That's not unlike what's happening right now as consumers and companies alike solve the puzzle as to why mobile devices haven't yet conquered social media. What we're seeing are exciting market forces at work. These forces - the demands of the digital consumer - are revamping the fundamental way we view the Internet. Mobile devices will then be the platform of choice for participating in what until recently was, well, a decidedly sedentary activity.