Attention all members of the social media industry! Attention all members of the social media industry! It’s time to consider how the REST of the world uses social media in its various forms especially from a mobile phone perspective. I say this only because the chatter amongst social media experts, ninjas, gurus and Maharishi’s seems to lean toward the idea that everyone is accessing social media from mobile devices but reality may be very far from that.
The Pew Research Center’s Pew Internet and American Life Project puts out some great data n its report called Mobile Access 2010 and it seems (as best as I can tell at least) to be free of the influence of someone who is doing PR disguised as research (another popular industry practice that needs to end). Here are a few findings. Please note the last bullet point in particular.
Now, there is a lot more to this study like age specific breakdowns and also the use of cell phones for data applications amongst various ethnic groups which is fascinating. Please check out the report if you would like to learn more (PDF).
Honestly, I couldn’t get my mind off the 10% number because it seemed very low but at the same time seemed very real. At first I thought this can’t be right because everyone is using their mobile phones to access social media. Isn’t that the point? Being able to tell all of your ‘friends’ what you are up to at the moment and the place that you are up to it? If you read only industry media about this phenomenon you would suspect that this kind of thing is widespread and going mass market.
Whoa there big fella! It’s not there yet and likely won’t be for quite some time. As with most everything I have ever seen in the Internet space the hype is usually about 5 years ahead of that nasty thing called reality. We get all lathered up about what is happening even though it is only happening for a very small percentage of people.
This kind of overheating and over hyping is both annoying and dangerous. It’s annoying because it fuels the egos of those who are pushing this kind of irrational exuberance for their own gain (to be a quoted ‘expert’ etc). Secondly, it makes people lose sight of what they need to be doing right now to succeed.
There is no doubt that this kind of activity will be more pervasive moving forward. We all have to remember though that when we attend a conference with thousands of people walking around staring at their iPhones, Android devices or BlackBerrys that we are experience this activity in a bubble. It’s not how most of the world operates yet. It just feels like it because like attracts like. The people that are married to their smartphones and record everything at every moment are a small percentage of the overall population and it may not make sense at this point to be getting all giddy over just how impactful this all is.
Let’s face it, we are some 15 plus years into the commercial Internet era and A LOT of people are just starting to understand search marketing! We chuckle and say “Gee, I can’t believe that there are people that still don’t get search!” Huh? That’s pretty arrogant and actually stupid to say (you can complain that I may have called you stupid but I am first in line in having made that statement about search as well, so we are all in this together). Honestly, Google is still figuring out what is deemed ‘traditional’ search so why should we expect that everyone already has as well. Man, get with it, right? Search is so 2009! The masses haven’t caught up but we keep on running and leaving them further behind. That’s not good policy.
I am glad that there are voices of reason out there like Pew so we can all have a head slap of reality and really help each other to concentrate on things that will help us today to move this economy out of the crapper. Pie in the sky business idealism will not get it done. Believing that the whole world is going completely mobile and will do everything from their mobile devices in even the next few years is silly. Segments of society will adapt and grow faster but where a lot of consumers are and will remain to be will not be part of this revolution.
The truth is that there is a lot more money being held by people who are not part of this revolution than there are those who are. As marketers that should be your focus for today.
Well, thanks for allowing my rant. I would love to hear the opinions of our readers on this subject. Is the use of mobile and social more widespread than this study suggests? Are we stirring up a bunch of industry Kool Aid that is keeping many from making good decisions for their business in today’s reality? Let’s hear it please!