Mobile Technology Changing Social Media?

    January 26, 2007

eMarketer released a report discussing how mobile technology – mainly the mobile phone explosion – affects social media. While there’s no denying the affect the mobile industry has had on social media (check out Mike Sachoff’s WebProNews write-up), is the mobile technology medium going to change the way users interact with these social media hubs?

Will these robust little phone devices eliminate the middleman (being the home PC) when it comes to posting social content? If a recent Threadwatch musing is any indication, mobile technology may very well change the social media landscape as we know it, especially once the teen users come of age.

But before that, it should be known that eMarketer’s report indicates these mobile social users use mobile technology to upload images and videos to sites like MySpace and Facebook. It doesn’t address the questions Threadwatch posed – will these devices essentially eliminate the Internet as THE method of social media interaction in favor of the networks these teenage users have established through extensive use of their mobile networks (Who’s In Your 5)?

The gist of the Threadwatch post is that teens are beginning to ignore the Internet in favor of their mobile devices. In turn, instead of being apart of the standard Internet social networks like MySpace and Digg, their social network becomes the friends they have constant mobile contact with:

Their ‘social network’ is real, and when they aren’t together in ‘real life’ they stay connected with their cell phones. They aren’t using Digg, Netscape, Facebook or “Web 2.0”. Even the few that have blogs might post once or twice a month and even the self-admitted ‘geeks’ said that the Web is like a big commercial.

A few of them shop on the Web, but it’s word of mouth advertising that influence their purchases, not ads on Myspace or blogs, unless one of their friends happen to blog about something. All of them said they use cell phones and text messaging much more than they surf the Web or use messengers.

So if the younger generation is in fact reducing the amount of time they spend on the Internet via PC or Mac, how will their behavior affect social media as a whole – especially as they start to mature into taxable commodities? How do you create positive buzz if a big portion of your target audience is eschewing the web in favor of mobile technology and the people they connect to using it? How do you reach a demographic that may not embrace the delivery vehicle of choice?

As the Threadwatch post indicates, these younger users respond quite well to the word-of-mouth approach to marketing, but how do you expose a mobile audience to your message? Perhaps text message-based advertising is in order, but this medium has incredible spam potential, severely reducing the effectiveness of such a campaign.

It seems the best to attract the type of audience I’ve been describing is through viral messages. If you can generate enough “cool” buzz for your product, it will eventually filter down to your audience, provided they are active within their established network of friends and other mobile users.