SINGAPORE: Mobile and social marketing is the future but marketers need to appreciate the constraints faced by many mobile users and to develop a more appropriate social presence.

Simon Kemp, managing partner/Asia of social marketing agency We Are Social, made the points in a blog introducing Digital, Social & Mobile in 2015, a report pulling together relevant digital statistics from around the world.

More than three-quarters of the world's mobile connections are still pre-paid, he said, and the costs of acquiring a phone and maintaining an active mobile connection represented a significant proportion of household expenditure in many developing nations.

Consequently, "content producers and marketers must balance their desire to provide 'rich' user experiences such as online video with the likely costs that this will entail for their audiences."

Further, 58% of the world's mobile connections still come from feature phones, meaning that many people are unable to access such content even if they want to.

Unilever is one company that understands this, as demonstrated by its award-winning Kan Khajura Teshan campaign in India. This free-to-use entertainment channel was activated by a missed call, with content delivered by mobile interspersed with communication about its brands.

The report also highlighted the advance of social media, with users in developing nations pushing penetration towards one third of the world's population by the end of 2015.

But Kemp said that few brands were using social effectively, especially in Southeast Asia, one of the fastest growing regions for social with monthly active users up 23% in 2014, compared to an average of 10% for the wider Asia Pacific region.

"Far too many brands use social as a broadcast channel, which is like expecting to be the centre of attention at someone else's party," he told Mumbrella.

Most brand activity he saw was focused on promotion and sales rather than attempting to understand the lives of those people they were connecting with, a situation he likened to infants who thought the world revolved around them.

Brands, he suggested, needed to grow up and "become a more socially apt entity … they need to learn empathy, consideration and generosity – not simply buy a stack of Facebook ads".

Data sourced from We Are Social, Mumbrella; additional content by Warc staff