The statistics are nothing short of bewildering, if you think about it. There are literally an endless supply of stats that talk about the power of social media and how it greatly influences purchasing behaviors for shoppers, as well as their friends and family. Case in point, nearly half of Americans (47 percent) say Facebook has the greatest impact on purchase behavior (compared to 24 percent in 2011). And 50 percent of all Americans have a Facebook account.
It also feels as though there are as many stats available in talking about the rise of mobile usage when shopping. According to Adweek, 82 percent of mobile users turn to their phones inside physical stores when making purchase decisions. This is pretty significant when you consider that there are more than 350 million Americans, and the same Adweek article says roughly two-thirds of Americans own at least two mobile devices.
As mobile usage continues to grow, new social platforms will also emerge to evolve and be discovered, bringing a whole new element to social marketing. In the very near future, we'll see the integration of mobile and social channels through messaging apps like WhatsApp and Viber, live-streaming tools like Periscope, and traditional networks like SnapChat and Facebook that have staying power.
Millennials and Gen Z Ascension
At the center of this conversation currently is millennials, who might be considered the biggest disruptor to shopping patterns in our lifetime. The real disruptor, though, might be the next demographic, loosely termed as Generation Z. After all, millennials grew up with Twitter when they were in school, but Generation Z has never lived a day that didn’t involve the devices, gadgets and social/digital way of life.
This is a critical thought because today’s demographic wielding the most purchasing power is quickly becoming millennials, who are now old enough to purchase their first home and have their second child. However, the oldest among Generation Z are turning 20, not far from getting some major purchasing power of their own.
Social Mobile Marketing
So why does this concern you? These are the two generations that will become a major force of shopping in a few short years, and brands that truly capture their attention will build their businesses around both mobile and social. As such, the days of social media marketing are quickly turning into social mobile marketing. In order to thrive with these audiences, brands must combine the powers of social and mobile.
Here’s where the plot begins to thicken. Social mobile isn’t just coming into its own for these two demographics. Everyone from baby boomers to Gen Y and even Gen X are now using the combinations of mobile technology and social media. In 2015, 98 percent of Fortune 500 companies used some form of social media to engage with customers. What’s more, the number of mobile phone users globally is expected to pass the 5 billion mark by 2019.
How Mobile and Social Come Together
There are several key ways mobile and social will continue to grow together that will help shape marketing programs for brands both large and small. Shoppers willingness and propensity to share coupons or experiences instantly through mobile with their friends and family will only grow. Brands will begin to adopt more widespread ways of marketing thorugh mobile-social users for such things as driving mobile app downloads. With the rise of local-enabled marketing, successful brands will distribute proximity-based mobile wallet objects, such as coupons or loyalty rewards, via social networks. Additionally, brands will also acquire new mobile program users through compelling offers on their social pages.
Mobile will continue to be a big part of the customer experience for these social platforms, as well as a significant part of a brand’s integrated marketing strategy between the mobile and social channels. Successful brands that continue to embrace and evolve with the confluence of mobile and social will not only capture demographics with growing purchase power, such as millennials and Gen Z, but also increase sales potential to other user groups as well.
Margie Kupfer is vice president, marketing at 3Cinteractive (3C), a mobile marketing services provider.