Don’t create a mobile app until you’ve mastered social media.

being antisocial on social media and mobileI work with companies from a variety of different industries, and I also keep an eye on what other companies are up to. In other words, as well as being a writer for the web, I’m also a student of the web.

And here is what I see…

Most companies finally “get it” when it comes to what they should be doing on the web. They pretty much understand what their websites can do for them, and why the web is different from offline media. That isn’t to say they couldn’t improve their websites. 100% of businesses online could improve their websites.

But when you take a look at their social media channels, it’s a whole different story.

Most companies don’t get social media at all.

(Stick with me, we’ll get to the topic of creating mobile apps in a while…)

As an example, I just looked at the Facebook page of a company I sometimes work with. Over 20,000 people like the page. Not a bad figure.

However, when you look at individual updates on that page, you’ll find that they are liked by only 1 or 2 people.

That tells me two things.

First, they probably bought those 20,000 friends through paid advertising. That audience wasn’t grown organically, over time.

They bought their friends. They don’t have real friends.

Second, they aren’t being social at all. Their posts are simply promoting their website pages, offers and products.

They bought the audience. And they use Facebook as a broadcast advertising channel to try selling to that audience.

No wonder nobody likes their updates. (The 1 or 2 likes probably come from people within the company.)

Most companies treat social media this way.

But it doesn’t work.

If you want to be successful with social media, you need to stop broadcasting and start being social. That means asking and answering questions and getting into conversations with your friends, followers and subscribers.

You know…being social…like when you’re with friends at a bar or in a coffee shop.

The next problem I see is that many of the companies that don’t yet understand social media are beginning to create mobile apps.

And they are making the exact same set of mistakes.

They are treating mobile apps as broadcast channels.

Good luck with that.

People don’t like apps that are created simply as advertising channels. They want apps that do something for them.

Help them connect with friends. Or find a local store. Or share a photo. Or check in for their flight. Or buy a ticket for a concert. Or order a ride from Uber. Or get timely news on the price of gold. Or play a game while they are on the bus.

An app has to deliver value. And that value has to be congruent with the mobile experience.

Many mobile apps are social, like when posting to Instagram, using your Facebook app, or creating a video with Meerkat.

Other mobile apps are functional, helping you find the nearest bus stop, or checking your progress while running, cycling or taking some other form of exercise.

Whether social, functional or both, an app needs to be relevant to the mobile experience. I don’t need an app for when I’m sitting at home or at work in front of my computer. I need it for when I’m away from my computer.

So…circling back to the title of this post…why do I say a company shouldn’t create mobile apps until it has mastered social media?

Two reasons.

First, because a lot of the mobile experience is social.

Second, because if you can’t get beyond the traditional web and get your mind around how to use social media successfully, you’re almost certain to make the same mistakes with mobile.

And the first thing to learn about both social media and mobile is this…

They don’t work as free broadcast or advertising channels!!!!!

Understand social. Then work on mobile.

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About the author: Nick Usborne is an online writer, copywriter, author and coach.

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