The average person looking at a smartphone screen right now is more likely to come across news from your organization through a Facebook or Twitter app than through your own news app.
Recent studies of mobile and tablet audience behaviors are telling roughly the same story: Most users spend most of their time playing games and social networking.
U.S. mobile or tablet app users spend 30 percent of their time in social networking (second only to games at 49 percent), while news apps capture only 6 percent of total time, according to new Flurry Analytics data.
Nielsen data from Android phones showed about eight of 10 people used the Facebook app in a given month — making it the most popular app except for the Android Market itself. Google found that social media, along with games and e-mail, were the most common activities for tablet users.
All this means social media is essential not only to your Web strategy, but your mobile strategy as well.
So, if most people spend most of their app time on games and social networks, does this mean news apps are a wasted investment? No, because a news app is not for most people.
An app is good for at least two things: Serving the most-loyal fraction of your established audience, and getting them to pay.
The app fulfills those readers so dedicated to your brand that they want on-demand access to a comprehensive bundle of your content. These people who value your content most also are most likely to pay for it, and the app stores make those payments and subscriptions easier.
Pew Research Center data supports this, finding people who use a news app are your “power users,” more likely get news daily, spend more time with news, and more willing to pay.
So while a revenue-generating app may be the goal and business model of your mobile strategy, it shouldn’t be your whole strategy. To reach larger mobile audiences and draw them in as new loyal readers, you need strong engagement through social media and the mobile Web.