End of the Social Etiquette Era

Has making plans, more importantly keeping plans, become a lost art? In today’s mobile world where we can text, tweet, e-mail and call one another at the touch of a button many feel that what was once social etiquette is falling by the wayside.

In a recent article in the New York Times, sry gotta bail mayb nxt tme, Caroline Tell explores this phenomenon of how people are now navigating their social lives in real time and either confirming or cancelling plans on the fly. She points out that not only are people using text and other mobile communications to cancel, but cancel as close to the last minute as possible. In addition, people are often making multiple sets of plans, all at the same time, and choosing which to attend based on how and where others are going and the surrounding circumstances of the evening. As Ashley Wick, founder of Wick & Co. put it “offline rules of etiquette no longer seem to apply…people hide behind e-mail or text messages to cancel appointments or do things that feel uncomfortable to do in person.”

Unfortunately for those who despise last minute cancellations and take pride in social etiquette, this phenomenon is poised to only continue to get worse with the growing shift to mobile devices. According to eMarketer the time spent on mobile devices for activities such as internet, apps gaming and music has more than doubled in the past two years here in the US. Excluding talk time, mobile usage will grow 51.9% to an average of 82 minutes per day, up from just 34 minutes in 2010. By contrast, time spent online (which is still greater than on mobile) will grow only 3.6% this year compared to 7.7% in 2011.

While thinking about this, keep in mind that mobile still has a tremendous amount of room for growth as smartphone and tablet penetration are only going to continue to rise. As more and more consumers acquire these devices, the shift in minutes on mobile compared to traditional desktop will continue to shift in kind as well. Below are some key findings with further illustrate the shift:

•The share of users accessing social networks such as Facebook on their PCs will decline from 66% in 2012 to 52% in 2016.

•Worldwide mobile advertising will grow from $6 billion in 2011 to $28.8 billion in 2016.

•Worldwide business-to-consumer (B2C) m-commerce spending will grow six fold between 2011 and 2016, reaching $223 billion at the end of the forecast period.

If the correlation between the decline in social etiquette and mobile is true we may be looking at the end of etiquette. However, as a glass half full kind of guy I would turn my sights the phenomenal opportunity this presents to reach and engage with mobile consumers. Besides, nothing lasts forever.

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