Why Mobile Optimisation is Essential for Social & Sharing

Why Mobile Optimisation is Essential for Social & Sharing

Posted on 17. Aug, 2012 by in Stats & Trends

There were 543 million monthly active Facebook mobile users as of June 30, 2012 and 80% of Twitter’s UK active users access the site via mobile, showing that content is more likely to be shared on a mobile than desktop.

Why are brands and bloggers still failing to recognise the importance of mobile optimisation themselves and operating accordingly? Including Facebook themselves, who are currently the top site visited on the web.

Yes, it’s about the look, feel and functionality, but it’s also about the user journey and ease of conversion.

Now back to Facebook; the the busiest site around, with over half of their traffic from mobile (54% of monthly users access it via a mobile device) and they haven’t even learned how to properly optimise for mobile.

Social is about sharing. Sharing what you are doing, what you like, liking what others are sharing and so forth. The fact that you are unable to share a post via the mobile app, and when you can, it doesn’t pull in thumbnails or visuals, just a flat link, is really quite surprising.

Twitter on the other hand (whilst trying to minimise desktop and mobile apps that aren’t owned by themselves – often by buying them, and as we’ve seen today, implementing very strict API rules.), is intrinsically based on sharing and makes it a seamless action (varies per app), with the ability to retweet and quote with ease.

From personal experience, I do read Facebook on my mobile & tablets more often; however I am increasingly more & more frustrated at the limitations imposed while trying to share content.

Interestingly, I have recently made a shift to visiting Facebook on desktop as it provided me with more information/posts than I received on mobile – which used to be the complete opposite, the mobile app used to not filter my content to such a strong level, where I was still receiving unique content from people I don’t hear from all that often. Now they are almost identical in what I receive in my news feed – however without the enjoyable user experience which we all crave.

According to Inside Facebook, much of the social network’s mobile-only usage seems to be coming from emerging markets, though time spent on desktop is likely decreasing in favour of mobile within the U.S. and other developed markets.

Interestingly these are not the iOS users in the US & UK that most would expect.  Also, there is an argument that people are much more likely to use their desktop at work to access the channel, while resorting to mobile whilst commuting, out and about or at home.

Who is doing it well?

Amazon got it right almost two years ago when all that was required to make a purchase, was to scan a bar-code/search for a product, click buy it now using your stored details and boom – within 5 minutes on a tedious train journey, you just purchased a new product that was already en route to your doorstep.

The BBC have put a large amount of effort into their new website for both desktop and mobile. The mobile app has a smooth and clear user journey and shows that they understand the importance of spreading their content through sharing features, providing users the opportunity to share via email, Facebook and Twitter on each story.

What next…

What do brands need to consider with now that the rise in mobile use is well and truly here to stay?

  • The user journey – don’t put up road blocks. Make sign-in simple. Allow users to sign in with accounts they already have and with one click.
  • The design. Keep it fluid and simple. Don’t apply lots of independent scrolling features or links that open in new windows.
  • Make check out/purchase painless and easy, whether you are using Square, PayPal or another platform.
  • Don’t forget to optimise emails (order confirmations for example) for mobile.
  • Ask for feedback and implement it.
  • Look at competitors. What are they doing well and not doing well. Undertake a mobile audit, where competitors and comparators can be assessed and learned from.
  • Make social sharing easy. It’s a key part to drive social signals for social search. Let your users be your advocates and spread your content for you.
  • Use rich imagery. Make it simple for users to see your content/products and the information around the products. Text heavy screens and a 6 inch screen aren’t the best of friends.
  • Include an XML site map
  • Caching & redirects

Google supports structured mark-up data for applications, which allows for richer information about software applications to be specified within the HTML source code of web pages. In turn, this allows search engines to provide their users with more information about the applications when they perform searches.

Google uses the structured mark-up for applications to display enhanced search results called Rich Snippets, which contains details about the app such as its rating and a thumbnail image, directly within its search results. For example:

Rich Snippets such as these typically result in increased click-through rate by searchers.

Final thought…

So while you may be getting tired of the phrase ‘optimise for mobile’, most people aren’t yet adhering to the recommendation, which is potentially putting them behind their competitors and there is substantial data to back up the fact that mobile isn’t a fad, it’s not going anywhere, it’s just growing. A smart brand doesn’t think “what do we need to do to match our competitors?” but instead: What can we do to get two steps ahead.

Top photo credit: Milton Bayer

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