Why Mobile-First Creative is a Must on Social Media

Posted by Erin Martin on Aug 31, 2020 2:00:00 PM
Erin Martin

Smartphones and social media: they aren’t just something we use in 2020 -- they’re practically a part of us. Take a second to think about the moment you’re in right now. It’s possible that you found this blog on social media, while browsing on your smartphone. Even if that’s not the case, your smartphone is likely within eyeshot, if not within an arm’s reach. And you’re not alone. The average human spends almost three hours a day on their mobile device, with more than half of them looking at it a few times an hour, and 22% checking it every few minutes.


As for the connection between smartphone and social media usage? It’s strong. Of the 3.6 billion people who use social media worldwide, it is estimated that 99% of them will access on mobile at some point, while more than half will only utilize mobile to browse their platforms of choice. And they’re not just stopping by, either. In 2019, social media users around the world spent an average of 153 minutes (more than 2.5 hours) a day on the medium.

But just because attention is there for the capturing, doesn’t mean engagement is a given. With individuals and businesses alike becoming more active on social media, there are never ending choices of posts and ads to see and click, and users scroll through their options quickly. And with that shorter attention span per post, on top of more and more media to see, comes heightened competition. Despite social network ad revenue continuing to rise, revenue growth percentages are decreasing year over year, indicating that some platforms may be nearing a saturation point.

Not only is the competition high, but the crowd is tough. Although social ad impressions are up, click-through rates dropped 30% year-over-year from last 2018 to late 2019. And the decision to click or keep scrolling is being made faster and faster. According to a study commissioned by Facebook, users spend less than three seconds with a piece of content, and it’s even less when they’re on mobile, averaging 1.7 seconds compared to 2.5 seconds when browsing on non-mobile devices. With this comes good news and bad news. The good news is that it only takes a quarter of a second for people to recall mobile feed content, but poor social ads elicit a negative emotional response in less than a second. This means the fate of your post -- be it positive or negative -- is determined in less than a second. If your creative isn't designed for mobile, the likelihood of it being passed over, forgotten, or disliked is higher than ever.

Beyond the numbers, mobile-first creative is crucial because if it’s built for mobile, it’s likely capable of capturing your audience on non-mobile devices. One Facebook piece of advice recommends a mobile ad should be ‘as short as it can be and as long as it needs to be,’ encouraging advertisers to make their point without skimping on necessary details. The best practices for marking this happen -- well branded, thumb-stopping, concise, and platform specific ads designed for sound off users -- are sure to set you up for success away from mobile as well.


Wondering if your ads are optimized for mobile? Our free Mobile Fitness Score Generator determines how well your ad is built for mobile based on four key pillars -- messaging, duration, key visuals, and branding -- according to platform best practices. In our next blog, we’ll break down each of these pillars and address how to optimize each of them.

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Topics: social media, mobile fitness score, mobile-first