By adaptive - February 18th, 2015

It can seem that social media consumption has moved totally to mobile devices. The truth is somewhat more complex.

The use of mobile devices – most notably smartphones – to access services none more so than social media networks have continued to accelerate over the past few years. Corporate marketers need to appreciate not only which social media networks their customers’ favour, but which devices they are using and in which context.
Clearly the smartphone has completely dominated how social media is accessed on the move. However, research from the GlobalWebIndex (GWI) indicates that of the two-thirds of the adult population that accesses social media networks each month, 59% use a PC with mobile coming in at 44%. It seems that desktops and laptop PCs are still ahead when accessing social media.
GlobalWebIndex Social Media Access by Device
GWI commented: “PCs/laptops remain absolutely fundamental to networking; the vast majority of those engaging with social platforms are doing so via PCs/laptops at least some of the time. Indeed, that’s the key thing to note key: although the rise of mobile and tablet networking (rightly) continues to dominate headlines, it’s not the case that other devices are being abandoned. It’s a multi-device approach that now characterizes Internet usage, and while mobiles might be becoming more frequent and more important online gateways within our daily lives, it’s not to the total exclusion of PCs and laptops.
“That said, the prevailing trends here are extremely clear: while the percentages who have networked via a PC or laptop have dipped slightly during the current decade – from 63% in 2012 to 59% by the end of 2014 – the equivalent figures for mobiles and tablets continue to trend upwards. It’s now 44% of adult Internet users who are using social networks on a mobile, with just over a fifth doing the same via a tablet.”
It is also important for corporate marketers to appreciate how the rise of mobile access to social media networks has also influenced behaviour. GWI concluded: “Broadly speaking, mobile visits to social networks tend to be more frequent but shorter and less interactive than those made via other devices. Although there’s no set rule, it is fair to say that – generally – people are more likely to browse their newsfeed and perhaps click the like button than undertake more in-depth activities. 
“And this encourages much more passive forms of engagement where people are more likely to simply look at things rather than interact with them. As a result, many will not consider themselves to be actively engaging with the site, even if they are still visiting it.”
GWI Members Visitors and Active Users
As mobile consumers of content, every corporation’s customers will be using mobile devices – as usual with marketing in this space, the devil is in the detail, as high numbers of uses access your social content on smartphones are not necessarily fully engaged with your marketing messages and brand.
The latest report from Citrix looks closely at how mobile devices are now being used. Their overview of how engaged subscribers are to mobile data speaks volumes about the changing landscape of overall engagement with various types of information.
Citrix Average Mobile Subscriber
GWI conclude: “Although it’s a multi-device approach that now characterizes Internet usage, the ever-rising importance of mobiles for social networking – and micro-blogging in particular – is abundantly clear. Indeed, the size of the mobile social audience continues to increase each quarter and, for micro-blogging, the PC and mobile user bases are close to reaching parity. 
“Of the various online activities tracked by GWI, networking behaviours are also the ones which have shown the strongest migration to mobile in almost all of our 32 countries. Categorizing networking as a mobile-only activity is extreme, but seeing it as more and more of a mobile-first behaviour is certainly legitimate.”
There is little doubt that increasing numbers of your corporation’s customers will move to mobile devices, but a wholesale shift in behaviour is not happening as rapidly as anecdotal evidence would suggest. Certainly more mobile access to content hosted on social media networks is a certainty, and corporations need to ensure support for this shift is on the development roadmap for their social media marketing campaigns.

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