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Why Going Mobile Means Being Human

“Going mobile” has been on the tip of companies’ tongues in the past year. Yahoo has more than hinted at this strategy when they revealed their Q4 report in January and recently, a total site overhall, with a more personalized and dynamic interface, amped-up visuals and infinite scrolling capabilities, suggests a more mobile-friendly strategy

Last week, in an attempt to gain back their Millennial following, Facebook also introduced a redesigned News Feed that it called “mobile inspired,” setting a goal for 2013 to “create some mobile experiences that simply can’t be done on the desktop.”  And at this year’s SXSW, the spotlight is shifting from software to devices.  This Mobile Insider article reports from on-the-ground at SXSW stating that companies are also discussing “authenticity” as a top priority, especially when you consider that Millennials’ falsehood meter is one of their greatest assets. It states: “The connected generation are the ones who have changed the game for all aspects of advertising and marketing.” Building a second screen experience along with personalization, intimacy and being “human” have become necessities among social media, mobile and marketing strategies. 

We focused on this trend in January, delving into why a mobile strategy has become table stakes for companies aiming to engage Millennials and the post-millennial generation (who truly are ‘digital natives’). To put this digital dependency into perspective, we surveyed 990 13-34-year-olds about how much they value their cellphone. Two-thirds said they’d be lost without their phone and more than half (54%) feel that their cellphone is a lifeline to the world around them. Millennials want to know what their network of “friends” is doing at any hour as well as to always have information at hand – literally. They’ve grown up using Google as a verb and are accustomed to instantaneous communication anytime and anywhere. 

An important distinction to note is that Millennials didn’t come out of the womb texting, tweeting, learning and sharing like their younger predecessors have (the post-millennial generation). They are however, emblems and examples of the digital adoption curve. A new study by InMobi cites this important distinction, and shows social media usage among Millennials is the activity most likely to drive growth in mobile use over the next year: “As an educated, tech-proficient, and optimistic trendsetting group, they have been seen to adapt easily to rapidly changing technologies, and are soon to be the largest generation ever. Their strong purchasing power and peer-influence clearly demonstrate their value to marketers.” They also found that the top three activities in mobile-usage are Social Media, Entertainment, and Games with 42% stating that they expect their Social Media usage to grow within the next 12 months. 

While Millennials are using technology to enhance real life, and real life to enhance technology, the post-millennial generation will no longer experience a digital divide, or even a blurring of the two. By the time they grow up, “digital” will be so seamlessly integrated into our daily lives that there won’t be any distinction at all. Millennial parents will catch themselves saying: “when I was your age there was actually a difference between the real world and a digital one”, and their child will surely gaze at them in total confusion. 


*Illustration by Matt Lynaugh