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See This? Mobile Users Twice As Likely To Share Content On Their Social Networks

It's a phone! That should be the mantra every media and marketing maven has at hand when trying to understand the fundamental differences between desktop and device behaviors. No matter how much of a computer we make of these things, the underlying reality of the device’s purpose for consumers impacts almost all of our activities on it. At heart, this is a one-to-one medium. So it is not surprising that when it comes to social media use, people share more from devices.

According to a survey of over 4.9 billion desktop and 1.2 billion mobile social signals, ShareThis determined that 4.1% of the activity on the former involved sharing content, while 7.7% of mobile activity involved sharing.

And if you are using an iPhone, you are especially likely to send items along to others. ShareThis finds that 12.4% of iPhone owners are social sharers, compared to 7.4% of Android owners, 6.3% of BlackBerry users, 5% of those on a Mac, 3.9% on a PC and 3.4% on an iPod.

Facebook is the king of the hill by a wide margin when it comes to preferred networks for sharing content, accounting for over 60% of activity. Twitter’s share of sharing doubles between desktop and mobile, from 6% to over 13% of activity. Email sharing is negligible, however, on devices.

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The big device winner in terms of enlarged share is Pinterest, which has 5% of desktop activity but balloons to 18.9% on devices. This seems to underscore the point that Instagram has already made on smartphones -- it is a more visual medium than we might have supposed. Pinterest is especially strong among iPad owners, however. And it is definitely a daypart thing, where Pinterest is strongest in the evenings on iPad, while Facebook and Twitter dominate in shares throughout much of the day. The screen size, lean-back mode, demographic and time of day seem to converge so that in the evenings on an iPad, Pinterest is responsible for almost 50% of sharing activity that ShareThis is measuring.

All of this points to how nuanced and varied mobile social strategies and tactics have to become for marketers and media companies. There are distinct patterns to social media sharing, not only across screens but across dayparts.

Screen size has a role to play in the modes people are in and the kinds of content they share. The iPad is the device for a tremendous amount of lifestyle and fashion content, recipes, garden topics, etc. This is where Pinterest excels. On iPhones and during the day especially, people are making contact with one another via social channels and sharing content like music, news items and such and are more Facebook-reliant.

All of this confirms what should be obvious about the impact of mobility on social media too. It is all about contextual awareness. Mobility introduces a new variety and complexity of variables with which marketing and media programmers must contend.

This has always seemed to me to be a topic that doesn’t get enough discussion -- the impact of mobility on social network approaches. We are including a panel on the topic at next month’s Mobile Insider Summit where we hope to unearth some early learnings about how social media marketers need to rethink their tactics as the social networks become essentially mobile-first entities. It is part of the larger discussion we will have at the summit on the general notion of mobility -- targeting behaviors, contexts, situations, modes -- not merely screens. We have keynotes from The Gap and GE, speakers and attendees from Sears, Citi, Foot Locker, WSS, Autotrader, IHG, Hyatt, Kia, Move.com, Delta and many more. 

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