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July 16th, 2015

Smartphones Are Now The Dominant Driver Of Social Media

Facebook and Twitter define the era in digital media.

A century from now historians may look back on the beginning of the era of ubiquitous computing and note how human behavior fundamentally changed when access to information and communication became instantaneous for nearly every person across the world.

The historian might write; “In 2015, the human race realized the dream of ubiquitous communication via digital means, through computers that everybody carried with them all the time. Barriers were broken and awareness of the global condition was at an all-time high. Most people of the world knew exactly what was happening, almost as soon as it happened. The vehicles for these communications were called smartphones and the information was spread through what they called social media.”

Back in the temporal world of 2015, you are probably reading this article on your smartphone. You might share it on Twitter or Facebook. And you would be among the majority of people. According to a recently released comScore report, social media consumption on-the-go has become more than just necessary for most people. Smartphones are the preferred device for users in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. Mobile devices account for 76% of all time spent on social media in the U.S., with both Canada and the U.K showing 70%.

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Smartphones are the dominant form of access. The comScore report revealed that 57% of Americans use dedicated social media apps to interact. About 47% of users in the U.K. and Canada use social media apps. Tablets, on the other hand, only account for 11% in the U.S. , 14% in the U.K and 17% in Canada, while desktop access maxes out at 30% in the U.K. and Canada and 24% in the U.S.

Changes In Digital Media Consumption

In terms of total content consumed, social networks and entertainment lead the way in all three markets. Established mobile categories such as maps, weather and photos all scored highly in the report, but the social companies such as Facebook and Twitter are driving engagement. Away from social media, comScore noted that Americans access maps and health, Canadians like to bank online and the British prefer to read digital newspapers.

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It is the younger generation who are leading the charge towards increased mobile penetration and engagement. Nine out of 10 Millenials have a smartphone, often at the expense of the more traditional desktop. An average of 30% to 50% of leading digital media properties are now only visited through mobile, a sign that the landscape increasingly relies on mobile eyeballs.

The Desktop Is Alive And Well

As regards smartphone platforms, Android continues to be the market leader. It has a minimum of 49% penetration across all demographics—with the exception of Canadian Millenials—while the iPhone is the only legitimate challenger in each country. However, older smartphone users tend to prefer Android devices, with 59% of 55-plus owners in the U.K. choosing that operating system over iOS.

While many media properties are exhibiting a mobile-first attitude to content, the total hours spent per visitor in each market for desktop access averages between 39 to 46 hours across all three countries in the study and all age ranges. According to the report, desktop visits increase by 30% when part of a multi-platform strategy, another indication that mobile is not the only option on the digital media table.