Social Media Tips – Facebook Home Highlights Promise, Challenges of Mobile

smartphoneThe tepid reaction to Facebook’s Home app illustrates some of the challenges social media networks face moving onto mobile platforms, even as those moves showcase the promise mobile devices can hold in connecting you more closely to your customers.

CNET reports disappointment among investors with the installation numbers and user reviews of Facebook Home, which was introduced on April 12. Home is an app that takes over a smartphone’s home screen, allowing users to access their latest Facebook updates at a glance. With between 500,000 and 1 million installations and an average user rating of just 2.2 stars (out of five) on Google Play, analysts have begun to argue that by making it more difficult to access many other features on the smartphone, users are simply finding the new feature too invasive to be useful.

“Home will probably be great for the avid Facebook users, but it is unlikely to have mass appeal,” financial firm Sterne Agee told CNET.

The trouble with Home comes as mobile devices are becoming even more important to Facebook’s strategy. The New York Times reports that Facebook’s recently released quarterly report shows that mobile made up 30 percent of the company’s ad revenue in the first quarter of this year, which is up from 23 percent in the same quarter in 2012.

That jump comes with a tradeoff, however. The Atlantic has collected a series of stories from disgruntled users who are considering abandoning the social network’s mobile presence because its ads, like Home, had become too invasive.

At the same time, mobile devices, and the possibility of connecting via social media through them, represent an opportunity for travel agents because they catch travelers at a unique part of the travel process – when they’re on the go.

“I think if you’re looking at strictly mobile [marketing] in the smartphone sense of it, there is and probably always will be a certain degree of immediacy about it that is heightened relative to other channels,” Noah Elkin, principal analyst at eMarketer Digital Intelligence, told us in an interview for our sister publication Hotel Management. “You have travelers who are interested in solving an immediate need – ‘I need a hotel reservation today.’ “

Social media on mobile devices, then, looks a great deal like social media on the PC – a balance between meeting a customer’s needs without coming across as too aggressive or “salesy.”

How often do you access social media from your mobile device? Do you ever see customers asking you last-minute questions? Let us know on our Facebook page or in the comments below!