Mobile Engagement: Facebook and Samsung

Apr 4, 2013
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

Galaxy_note_II_Flip-Cover-PhotoThe fPhone is finally here. Facebook is launching its own brand of phones that put social networking front and center. With an estimated 650 million mobile users it was inevitable that Facebook would introduce mobile devices that integrate users more tightly with the site, allowing for faster posting, chatting, and commenting. They might even allow for voice calls (remember those?).

Facebook’s foray into mobile phones is a direct response to Samsung’s plans to develop a social network. Slated to launch this year, it is designed to rival Facebook. The project is codenamed Samsung Facebook (Brilliant! Who could possibly guess what that’s about?). The thinking behind the fPhone and Samsung’s network (I believe the official name will be Twitter Plus) is to control both content and the mechanisms through which it is created. Samsung dominates the mobile phone market and makes nearly a third of all smartphones sold worldwide — more than double what Apple does. All those smartphones are the source of huge amounts of content, which becomes the property of Facebook, Google, etc. This means that most advertising based on that content doesn’t accrue to Samsung. But the combination of mobile phones and a social network is a direct threat to Facebook’s business model.

The Mobile Recruiter

Social recruiting is hard. Mobile recruiting is even harder. On a four-inch screen, if you’re not part of the conversation, you don’t exist. The fPhone is designed to make the key aspects of social networking easy to use — and those all have to do with sharing. About 40% of smartphone users now access social networks mainly from their phones. The No. 1 reason people use social networks on mobile devices is because they want to keep up with a person they know in real life. “Real life” … not just a friend in the Facebook sense. The No. 2 reason is that they are connecting with someone who is a mutual friend. It’s a mechanism that makes it easy to be social — everything else is secondary. This is why people are more likely to pay attention to an ad that has been posted by one of their social network acquaintances than one that’s placed by an advertiser.

And this is where most social networking activity is moving. Data from ACNielsen shows that people accessing social networks through mobile apps spend more time on them than those doing so from a desktop — about 7 hours for men and about 10 hours for women. The comparable numbers for desktop access are 6 hours and 8.5 hours respectively. A big reason for this shift from desktops to mobile is that mobile devices are a more constrained environment. A social network accessed through an app is an isolated experience, where, unlike a browser, there are no additional tabs open.

Creating compelling content for social networks is difficult and beyond the reach of most recruiters. Whatever the merits, the time required and cost is too high. As a recruiter you’re largely going to be dependent on others to get your jobs-related messages to prospective candidates. This is nothing new, but what can you do to make that more likely?

Social Recruiting Is a Team Sport

Recruiters tend to be individualistic, but research suggests that social recruiting is best done as a team. Focus your efforts on power users — the 20 to 30 percent of people who are the most active. Pew Research found that this group can reach an average of 156,569 people. A study from Cornell University found that people are more likely to respond to messages on social networks when they get the same message from multiple directions.

  • An invitation from four unrelated users was more than twice as likely to get a response than an invitation that listed four connected users.

  • A person is much more likely to respond if that person has friends on the network who do not know each other — a structurally diverse network — than if that person’s friends are all connected on the site.

  • The diversity of a person’s network also affects the level of engagement: more active users have friends spanning numerous social circles.

The mobile experience is also richer for most users. Research also shows that on desktops users can get lost in endless links to sites, videos, and articles. That is not as easily done on a mobile device, at least not today. But have no illusions that social recruiting is easy. Even with an fPhone it’s fDifficult.

This article is part of a series called Opinion.
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