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What are the three keys to effective mobile social marketing?

With more consumers using their mobile devices to access social networks, brands need to start thinking differently in terms of their social media strategy.

Consumers are using their mobile devices as the main way of connecting to social media sites, leaving an opportunity for mobile marketers to tap into. In particular, marketers need to pay especially high attention to time and focus on short messages when marrying mobile and social media marketing this holiday season.

?We are just beginning to think about the customer experience across mobile and non-mobile channels,? said Erika Brookes, vice president of marketing at Vitrue, Salem, NH.

?Marketers need to understand how each channel varies in terms of user engagement, user experience and the benefit for the end user,? she said.

Key punctuation
According to data collected from Virtue, punctuation and grammar are vital to targeting the right group of mobile consumers.

Short, targeted messages that point across quickly are key.

For example, Facebook posts with question marks in them received 4.8 percent less likes than posts without them, and posts with an exclamation point generated 13.7 percent less likes than those used without an exclamation point.

Additionally, across all pages sizes ? including Web and mobile ? social media posts with less than 70 characters received more likes and comments.

For mobile devices specifically, engagement increased by 4.3 percent when messages were less than 70 characters long.

Virtue?s data is proof that when planning a social media marketing initiative on mobile devices, it is better to be short and sweet because consumers have less attention on mobile than they do on desktop experiences.

Additionally, timing is key when sending out social media blasts, especially for mobile devices.

Virtue?s data found that the most social media mobile interaction takes place on the weekends, with the highest number of comments being generated between 10 and 11 p.m. on Fridays.

During the week, it is also important to time messages when consumers are likely to have the time to engage with them. According to Virtue?s study three times of the day hit the most traffic ? 1 a.m., 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.

?We are seeing that liking and commenting  - and overall engagement ? on posts are increasing,? Ms. Brookes said.

?In general, 'liking' is growing at a faster rate than commenting, which is the lowest form of engagement,? she said.

Deal on mobile
With holiday marketing in full swing, marketers can use social media as a quick way to target deals and offers and reward consumers for interacting with their brand.

?The key is to make sure that deals and discounts are sharable and easy to email, tweet, Facebook or blog with the click of a button,? said Krista Neher, CEO of Boot Camp Digital, Cincinnati, OH.

?The power of the social graph is that we are likely to be interested in the same things that our friends are interested in, so suggesting that people share deals with their social networks is a great way to reach interested customers,? she said.

For daily deal site LivingSocial, the company?s instant features play a significantly large mobile role.

?We see real-time, mobile marketing as a 2011 trend,? said Jody Gavin, public relations manager at LivingSocial, Chicago.

?For our merchants, instant is an effective, real-time, measurable marketing platform to attract new customers when they need them,? she said.

Additionally, marketers can take advantage of their social media followings to tie in with an incentive for consumers to interact with a company.

?A free gift incentive may require a consumer to check-in on Foursquare, follow on Twitter or opt-in to an SMS text campaign,? said Ms. Neher.

?By requiring consumers to connect with you on social channels, you will have the opportunity to build relationships with them in the future,? she said.

In-store guide
Mobile and social can also be used together this holiday season by retailers with in-store promotions and events.

One of the key components of developing a retail mobile site or application is finding a way to connect it to in-store traffic via a store locator feature, which also applies to social media marketing.

For example, if a retailer promotes a product or service via Facebook, the page must include a section where consumers can find the nearest location to purchase the product.

?Mobile will emerge as holiday shopping?s closest ally,? said Curtis Hougland, Founder/CEO of Attention, New York.

?Smart marketers will begin to overlay social experience onto the in-store experience through mobile,? he said.

Social media can be used to explain in-store promotions to consumers during the holidays, including how to style a look with the retailer?s products and how to unlock rewards.

?Each time a consumer interacts, it publishes across their social graph,? Mr. Hougland said.

?In-store and mobile become a virtuous circle,? he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York