The battle of the screens: mobile vs desktop communities

Mobile communities are HOT. No doubt about that. The latest numbers from Facebook confirm that mobile is outperforming desktop. Zuckerberg said 48% of its daily active users only use mobile devices and 49% of its total ad revenues come from mobile ads. Other popular social networks are even more extreme. Roughly 80% of all activity on newcomer We Heart It comes from users on mobile devices. Pinterest has a similar mobile usage – more than 75%, according to a spokesperson. So… mobile communities have taken over. But how is it different? And what do we, as community managers, need to do differently?
Quinny desktop vs mobileThinking about our research communities, we asked ourselves exactly those questions. Mobile research communities enable participants to share contextual and personal information about their environment, in the heat of the moment. It is up to the community manager to keep members engaged over time through a smaller screen. Based on a recent mobile community study we conducted for Dorel, we identified 3 key conclusions for mobile research communities:

1. Mobile enables participants to better stay in touch with the community. Mobile usage increases platform activity as well as participation. Community analytics show that mobile users log in 2.3 times more and view 1.4 more pages compared to non-mobile members. They make 65% more contributions, meaning that they are more engaged with the community. In order to keep their attention, community managers need to stimulate mobile recurrent visits and offer new challenges on a daily basis.
2. While mobile/dual users contribute 1.65 times more posts, they only use half the number of words compared to desktop-only users (47 vs 87 words). One might expect that the reasons for the short wording are speedy contributions and smaller screens. We observe however that the words are replaced by a different, more visual contribution such as photo or video (6.2 photos from mobile-dual users vs 2.6 photos from desktop-only users). These results imply that mobile communities need to include a lot more yet shorter challenges that require multi-media feedback.
3. The mobile contributions have had a major impact on the richness of this study. While mobile generated only 41% of the total number of photos, the relevancy of those visuals is much higher. Of all photos tagged by the researcher, for some categories up to 63% of the tags were allocated to photos generated by mobile. This shows that the mobile component is of crucial importance to fully understand the user group and uncover unique and fresh insights.

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