Tell the World About It – Taking Your Mobile Designs Social

| 8 min read

There is no device more personal than the smartphone but how do you connect the wider social world available on the mobile web to your own app or website? Social interaction on the mobile web is a key part of creating great user experiences. There are some simple actions you can take to increase the sociability of your offerings and provide products that users really want to use and talk about.

The social web has been one of the biggest revolutions of the past decade. We’ve come a long way from Friends Reunited and MySpace and Facebook is the most used website in the world with over 1 billion subscribers. Designers have long understood that tapping into that social sphere can help their products gain market traction and deliver sustainable use but the mobile web adds a new dimension to this.

The smartphone is an intimate device which has the primary purpose of communication. Research shows that nearly 70% of all smartphone use is engaged with social networking of some kind – that’s much more than on the tablet or the desktop. So how do you, as a designer, tap into social when designing your mobile app or website?

Simple Guidelines for Taking Your Mobile Designs Social

The idea is to create content that enables social participation, social interaction and that is considered to be “shareable” on social networks and this hasn’t changed from the days of desktop. But there are additional considerations for mobile:

Ensure You Have a Presence and Pinpoint It

It might sound obvious but if you don’t have a presence on social networks – your users are unlikely to be able to work with you on them. You want to make certain that you’ve lined up your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Foursquare, etc. accounts before you launch the product to give you the maximum reach.

Author/Copyright holder: byung chul kim. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-ND 2.0.

It’s also important to remember that location matters on mobile. Don’t just look at social network make sure you’re registered with Google Places, Yahoo! Local, etc. These will play an important role for search results and when people tap into location-based services. It’s also a good idea to make it very clear what your hours of operation are in these listings. Potential customers who turn up at your place of business to find it closed are unlikely to be impressed.

Show Your Sociability

It’s very useful to bring in the elements of your social networks into your mobile app or website’s experience. Tell people about what you’ve been doing recently and make certain that you have single click “follow” access to your major social network presences. This can be tricky to manage on the limited screen real estate on mobile and you’ll want to do some user testing to make sure you’ve got it right prior to launch.

Make Social Networking Easy

Your mobile website needs integrated functionality that reflects the social networks they use. They need to be able to share your content with a single click (ideally). Make sure you’ve integrated the right APIs to enable tags, likes, comments, etc.

Incentivize Social Interactions With Your Brand

Author/Copyright holder: Brian Talbot. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-NC 2.0

If you can enable users to create their own content with your branding and give them a reason to share that content – you can create incredible results. A simple example would be a pizza shop offering a free side dish in exchange for pictures of their customers holding their empty pizza boxes in unusual places. Do take care to ensure that your terms and conditions emphasize the importance of keeping things legal with promotions like this – they can occasionally get out of hand.

Create Offers that Can be Shared

If you’re going to run a buy one – get one free style promotion make it shareable. Encourage your users to share their good fortune and discounts with their friends. If your offer is good enough; it might even go viral.

Incentivize Multiple Social Connections

Don’t just rely on users connecting with Facebook; give them a reason to sign up with all your social networks and to connect with you at various different levels. A free gift or a discount for multiple layers of engagement could pay serious dividends in the long run.

Keep it Current

There’s a tendency to neglect social media at busy times within an organization – this, in the days of desktop, was OK because people tended to understand that. With mobile the interactions are instantaneous and often when someone is interacting with your brand – you need to ensure that the information you provide and the responses you give are as close to “real time” as possible.

Don’t Forget to Tap Into Mobile Capabilities for Social

Author/Copyright holder: Intel Free Press. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-SA 2.0

Taking pictures, leaving voice messages, sharing GPS data, etc. are all very easy from the smartphone platform – something that simply wasn’t true in the days of desktop only internet access. These are social activities and your app or website should support and encourage the use of these additional features and integrate them with the social experience to maximize the value of social interactions on the mobile web.

The Takeaway

Mobile offers the largest opportunity for social interaction but as with any opportunity it requires a little thought to maximize the benefits. The guidelines above are designed to point you in the right direction with your social and mobile app or website marriage but are not a substitute for UX research and user testing. It’s always important to involve your users in deciding what works for them.

References & Where to Learn More:

7 mobile social marketing tips for you to peruse.

A nice infographic for why social marketing should be approached from a “mobile first” perspective.

Check out how mobile marketing is impacting social media.

Get Weekly UX Insights

Join 314,098 designers who get useful UX tips from our newsletter.
A valid email address is required.