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Smartphone Stats From Pew Internet

(This blog is the second of three on recent research released from Pew Internet on social media habits of Americans. Pew is primarily a resource for nonprofits, but their data has implications for every organization and business using social media.)

Smartphones: you can’t live with ‘em; you can’t live without ‘em.  Recent research from Pew Internet indicates that many Americans choose to live with them, even if they might cause addictive behavior. A whopping 83% of American adults own cell phones and 42% of those are smartphones. That number includes those whose phones operate on a platform such as IPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows or Palm.

Now, dig in to the pertinent marketing data. Several demographic groups have higher smartphone use: well-educated, financially well-off, non-whites, and under the age of 45. Are any of those groups people you want to target?  Here’s another important piece of their findings:

“Some 87% of smartphone owners access the internet or email on their handheld, including two-thirds (68%) who do so on a typical day. When asked what device they normally use to access the internet, 25% of smartphone owners say that they mostly go online using their phone, rather than with a computer. While many of these individuals have other sources of online access at home, roughly one third of these “cell mostly” internet users lack a high-speed home broadband connection.”

As smartphones evolve and become even smarter and less expensive, my guess is that the percentage of people that exclusively access content through their mobile phones will go up. I would also expect the 68% that access content “on a typical day” to go up as well. One other piece of interest: Android is the most common phone platform right now. This might be of interest to app developers and businesses that think getting an IPhone app is the answer to the mobile question.

What are the takeaways?
1. First and most important: mobile optimization of online content. Is your website or blog optimized for mobile? This doesn’t mean just accessible. The best mobile optimization is a website version that is restructured to be user-friendly from a phone. If you don’t know, check with your website developer, look at the settings on your blogging platform, or better yet, just go on your phone and see if you can get around your website easily. Sites on the web and on a phone are two different animals. I couldn’t read the local paper on my phone until they released an Android app. Trying to navigate their website via mobile was an exercise in frustration.

2. Claim all your geo-location places online. Google is pretty good about keeping up to date with locations in Maps. But have you gone on Google Places and filled out a profile for your “place” of business? This will assure that one of those little “markers” Google uses to identify places on a map search will show up where you’re located. It’s free. Also, claim your venue on Foursquare, Facebook Places, Yelp and other review sites that might pertain to your business. This is an especially important step if your potential customer is a traveler or tourist, or just a new customer in a car looking for you. This piece is often overlooked by government organizations, B2B, hospitals and schools, but I’d recommend it for everyone. There is no question people are now using their phones to find services on the fly. Foursquare is also a good place to lure potential traffic with specials just for mobile users.

3. Consider generating a QR code and use it for on-site promotion. QR codes are being used to generate coupons, enrich walking tours on college campuses, offer specials at sporting events, direct people to websites from remote venues, and even give directions to cemetery grave sites. A QR code can be used on anything that is printed (including clothing) or digitally projected (such as a stadium scoreboard). Their uses are limitless.

4. Have a mobile piece in your crisis management/emergency plan. When a crisis event happens, the best way for people to access real-time information is through their phones. Does your event venue or campus have an emergency notification system for mobile? Is your “dark website” that is set-up for emergency-only optimized for mobile? How about a number for patrons to text at sporting venues or large events to report customer service problems? It doesn’t get any more real-time than mobile.

What other takeaways can you think of? Please feel free to add to the list by leaving them in the comments below.

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