Social is Mobile is Social

This week we’re really excited to have Jon DiPietro sharing his expert insights on the relationship between Social Media and Mobile.

Social media “jumped the shark” years ago and is now a permanent and omnipotent part of most of our lives. 53% of the world’s 630 million mobile phones are smartphones. These are facts that pretty much everyone knows but to what extent are they linked. What does one have to do with the other?

I think, quite a lot.

Curating the Web

Social media is accomplishing much more than just connecting friends and subjecting us to lame advertising campaigns. As I wrote in my book Social Media for Engineers and Scientists, “…people are finding that their own personal social networks do a superior job of delivering pre-filtered news and information. This is the aspect of social networking that is the least understood by those still uninitiated in its ways and benefits. And yet, I believe that content filtering will serve an increasingly important role in the ongoing adoption and permeation of social media.”

With that in mind, consider the following chart:

Social Web's infiltration of World Wide Web

This shows the extent to which various social networks have permeated other websites. What’s happening is that social media is becoming the web’s nervous system. It’s connecting ideas (i.e. the brain) with people (i.e. the muscle) in order to mobilize messages. Social media is acting as both the curator and conveyor of ideas across the web.

Mobile Evolution

Reward System in Games

Dopamine is a chemical released in the brain that helps form memories and facilitates learning. It’s secreted whenever we observe a difference between an observed and predicted outcome. The bigger the difference, the more dopamine we release and the more pleasurable the experience. This reaction is the major factor behind the reward systems found in video games and also happens to be the addicting factor in gambling.

Besides their practical value, I believe that part of the reason for the mobile revolution is that they act as portable dopamine generators. Every time we receive a notification on our phone of a mention on Twitter or like on Facebook, it’s like finding loot in a video game or hitting a full house on the river in Texas Hold ‘Em. It’s how we get addicted to our mobile devices.

But here’s the interesting thing. Use of mobile devices is not taking share away from desktop usage. Studies are finding that we’re using our mobile devices in between television commercials, while waiting in checkout lines, during stops at traffic lights, etc… They are growing the pie, as it were:

Time Spent on web vs mobile


I believe that these trends are intertwined and present three significant implications.

#1 – Structured Becomes Curated

Most data on the web is highly structured and assumes visitors will start at the home page and drill down to the information they are looking for. People are searching out information less and less. And when they do, search engines are relying more and more on social graphs.

People are turning to trusted curators who take data and add context and meaning. They take it in through channels where they spend their time, looking for dopamine. The web’s nervous system is carrying ideas from websites to social media channels more and more.

Remember: If you build it, they will yawn.

#2 – Hierarchical Becomes Point-to-Point

Organizations and institutions evolved as a way to organize people and disseminate information, either from a top-down or spoke and wheel configuration. While people still need to organize themselves this way, the web doesn’t (and can’t). Instead, it is a many-to-many configuration relying on message virility. In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell investigated the ways in which messages went viral. One observation he made was that they don’t go viral from person to person but from group to group. Don’t think of the web as an ocean of humanity but a series of interconnected groups.

#3 – Synchronous Becomes Asynchronous

Content consumption used to be by appointment. Our schedules were made around radio and television broadcast times. We set aside specific times of the day to read the newspaper. Today, organization has been replaced by coordination. DVRs and iTunes let us consume content where and when we want. The mobile revolution is allowing us to take our content with us so that we can consume what we want, when we want, where we want.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

For these reasons, I believe that social is mobile at the same time that mobile is social. The two have converged in a way that is natural, unavoidable and inseparable. There are certainly many implications to this, but the three I’ve listed here seem to me to be the most game changing.

About the Author

Jon DiPietroJon DiPietro is the principal of Domesticating IT, an inbound marketing blog and consultancy and co-founder of #CareerGravity. He is a Certified Inbound Marketing Professional and author of the book, “Social Media for Engineers and Scientists” and frequently speaks on Internet marketing and social media topics at conferences, workshops, symposia and Chambers of Commerce.


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