The boom times for social network adoption in the UK look to be largely over, as new user growth is set to slow to a near standstill by 2018. What growth does remain is coming from users expanding their social network activity to mobile devices, according to a new eMarketer report, “UK Social Networking Trends: Mobile Is Becoming the New Normal,” which noted that the proportion of UK social network users who will access their accounts via mobile phone will continue to increase substantially throughout eMarketer’s forecast period, rising from 75.3% in 2014 to 90.2% in 2018.
Social media is an important consideration for marketers in the UK. It has to be, given the sheer size of the audience. But the marketing effectiveness of these networks hasn’t always been rated highly by those in the business. However, as UK consumers move their social networking behaviors to mobile, some marketers are beginning to move their efforts along with them.
Real-time social engagement, mainly enabled by access via mobile devices, is top of mind for many UK marketers.
Results from a February 2014 study by immediate future, a social media consultancy, indicated just how many benefits UK marketers felt real-time social engagement could offer. While general audience engagement was the most cited among respondents, other benefits were noteworthy—for example, 35% felt real-time social engagement brought increased customer retention and loyalty, while 25% credited it with a better return on investment.
In terms of hard figures, mobile ad revenues are becoming increasingly important to social networks. Facebook’s recent earnings call illustrated this quite starkly: In Q1 2014, the company saw a 72% year-over-year rise in total global revenues, driven by mobile, which accounted for 59% of ad revenues during the same period—up from 30% a year prior, the company said.
eMarketer projections further highlight the importance of mobile social advertising. Net mobile internet ad revenues worldwide for both Facebook and Twitter will essentially double between 2013 and 2014. A look further back to 2012 puts the growth in mobile ad spending further into perspective. At $6.82 billion, Facebook’s mobile ad revenues in 2014 will be 14 times higher than they were just two years prior.
So despite the lingering concerns UK marketers may have about the effectiveness of advertising via social media, the future looks to be very much a mobile social one. At least, that’s the direction social networks are taking.
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