We talk a lot about how you have to find your audience online. Go where they like to hang out, whether that’s Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest or somewhere more niche like a community forum about your industry. It’s solid advice that you can use to build your business online or find more traffic for your blog, podcast, or videos.
But are you missing out on the number one place where your audience is hanging out?
Forget about Facebook. Say ta-ta to Twitter. The number one place you need to be to connect with your fan is on their mobile devices. This week, Pinterest released new mobile apps to connect with their social network via your Andriod phone, iPhone, or iPad, and this was a much-needed, smart move for the company. If your audience uses a mobile phone (and chances are good that they do), you need to be there.
Mobile by the Numbers
Mobile is growing at astounding rates. When Tom Webster talked about the state of social media at BlogWorld New York 2012, He kept mentioning over and over again how millions of people are accessing social sites via their mobile devices. According to a June 2012 report by mobiThinking:
- As of the end of 2011, there were 6 billion mobile subscribtions world-wide. This is a huge increase from 5.4 billion in 2010 and 4.7 billion in 2009. Even when you take into account the fact that many people have more than one subscription, there are an estimated 4.2 billion people world-wide who are connected via their mobile devices.
- Sales for mobile devices were up over 11% from 2010 to 2011. These sales are expected to grow another 7% by the end of 2012.
- In 2011, over 470 million smartphones were sold (up over 60% from 2010). IDC predicts that in 2012, 686 million smartphones will be sold.
- 68.7 million media tablets sold in 2011. This is predicted to rise to 106.1 million units in 2012.
In other words…mobile is important!
Taking Your Content Mobile
So how do you get a piece of the mobile pie? There are three main options, and I suggest that you explore all three:
- A mobile version of your website
- Mobile advertising
- A mobile app
If nothing else, it’s very important to have a mobile version of your website. Don’t point to your stats and say that no one mobile is visiting your site. Of course they aren’t if the site isn’t mobile-friendly. I can’t tell you how often I go to a site using my mobile phone and there’s some kind of pop-up feature that completely blocks everything and is so big I can’t click out of it. Even if you don’t have that problem, though, your site probably has teeny tiny text and is hard to navigate on a smaller screen. And let’s not forget about data costs. If your site isn’t optimized, it’s going to be expensive for someone to load, as well as taking a long time. So, install a mobile version of your website or develop a responsive design.
Mobile advertising is also a facet of this conversation to consider. If you’re a small business, use geo-targeting to reach people in your immediate area. But even if you’re not, you can make use of mobile advertising. Think about the huge number of apps that are downloaded every year and consider purchasing advertising with some of these apps that fit your niche/industry best.
Lastly, you may want to consider developing your own mobile app. App development can be expensive and if you aren’t a tech-savvy person, it can seem impossible. However, before you go out there and hire someone to create a custom app for you (or write it off completely), check out the affordable options offered by companies who specialize in helping small business owners, bloggers, and others online create their own apps. Some require more knowledge about app development than others, but at least you have options:
If you work in a specific industry, there may also be customizable apps you can choose. For example, here at NMX, we’re in the conference/trade show industry, so it makes sense to work with a tool specifically for events.
Not everyone needs an app, of course, but don’t ignore this option. If done properly, an app can bring you tons of new fans and customers.
For a long time, I made the mistake of saying how much I hate my smartphone. I complained often about how I wish I could just have a phone that made calls and nothing else. I think a lot of people are in that same boat. But it’s the wrong boat to be in.
If you truly want to be successful on mobile, you have to understand how mobile devices are used. That doesn’t mean becoming an expert on the technology behind mobile, but it does mean having first-hand mobile experience. How do you use your smartphone most? When it’s your primary means of connection, what are some of your patterns of use? What are some of your biggest mobile frustrations? These are questions you can really only answer by being a mobile user yourself. So pick up your phone and learn to use it so you can see how your audience is using it too.