Trying to collate user information for Facebook and Twitter can be slightly tricky at best. If for arguments sake we accept that Facebook has in excess of 750 million users and Twitter has just recently passed the 100 million mark, we can say with a large amount of confidence that these sites command a great deal amount of respect as online communities.
Furthermore, according to research from Basekit, 36 per cent of UK businesses are using Facebook to attract new customers, making it a more popular tool for advertising than the Yellow Pages and Thomson Local.
So we have established that social media is big and that in itself is a rather obvious statement. So, where is this going you ask? There has been considerable research into how people log onto social media sites in recent years. US digital world measurer’s comscore report titled “2012 Mobile Future in Focus”, gives strong insight into the changes in behaviour we have towards social media and our hand held devices. The report highlighted that in the US there were more than 400 smartphone devices on the market. Furthermore, 2011 saw the smartphone market overtake normal handsets in Germany, France and the US joining the UK and Spain which achieved this feat in 2010.
Given the fact that smartphone penetration grew at least 8 percentage points in the US and the five strongest European economies in 2011, I would suggest that it is the development of smart phones that have allowed social media sites to gain the edge I online marketing rather than anything ground breaking from Facebook or Twitter.
Hardcore fans of such social media sites would scoff at this. I suggest that they would point to the fact that smart phones have developed new technologies so that users can have easier access to social media. I accept that in recent year’s large phone manufacturers have been judged by consumers on how well they connect to social media but it is still my belief that the smartphone market is driving social media interactions. Would people be as engaged with Facebook if they were no longer able to access it on the move? I will allow you to forge your own opinions on that but I would argue interactions would decrease at some rate.
Although most analysts would refute that the desktop/laptop PC market was dying out, new methods of interacting are constantly evolving. As this evolutionary process continues, social media will grow.
As tablets develop and become more affordable, it is likely that in the coming years these devices will provide a challenge for the PC and laptop manufacturers giving grounds for the growing argument those users want to access social media on the move.
People want to interact with social media on the move in 2012, which is obvious. As a greater number of small businesses place an importance on social media in relation to marketing campaigns, this can only seriously take off if smart phones and tablets become more affordable.
So as smartphone brands are now tasked with rebranding and becoming life necessities, there is serious room for a budget smartphone to dominate the space. Nokia, once the world’s leading mobile phone provider, last month announced it would unveil its new budget smartphone, the Lumia 610. In China, a country that boats the largest percentage of smartphone users, the country’s largest search giant, Baidu, launched its first budget smartphone.
Whether we accept that smartphones have driven social interactions or not, what is clear is that people want to use social media on the go. It is the wrong strategy for companies to only sell from 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday. If the cost of smartphones does begin to decrease, the potential customer numbers online and engaged with social media is potentially astronomical. Social media sites have of course benefited from this but the real winners have and will continue to be small/medium sized businesses.
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