How Are People Actually Spending Their Time On Mobile? [INFOGRAPHIC]

So, we recently shared that 49% of the entire U.S. population uses a smartphone, and by 2017 that percentage is expected to reach 68%.

In that same post, we revealed that four out of five smartphone users check their phones within the first 15 minutes of waking up – but what are people actually checking?

New research from BBDO and AOL attempts to answer that very 2013-relevant question.

First of all, where does the data come from? In the study, conducted by InsightsNow in 2012, 24 users completed a seven-day diary and in-depth interviews. Then 1,051 U.S. users ages 13-54 were surveyed, data on 3,010 mobile interactions were collected, and the mobile activities of two-thirds of those users were tracked for 30 days.

Now to the results. The team divided people’s mobile time into seven categories: self-expression, discovery, preparation, accomplishing, shopping, socializing, and “me time,” which constituted a giant 46% of all mobile interactions.

So, according to the above graphic, social media (“socializing,” in the study’s parlance) actually only makes up 19% of people’s time on mobile.

But here’s the thing: many, many people use social media FOR “me time,” rather than for “socializing.” Don’t you consider it “me time” when you’re thumbing through your Twitter stream or your Facebook news feed, reading updates from your friends, family members, and associates? Isn’t it “me time” when you’re searching endlessly for cat videos and gossip columns even when you’re doing that from social channels, rather than direct web sources?

The way the research is presented suggests that “me time” and time spent on social media are separate animals – but you can engage with social media without social networking.

The researchers’ point, emphasized through complementary infographics (see “Where Marketers Get It Wrong”), is that marketers are failing to engage successfully with people on mobile. And maybe, in addition to the research team’s highlighted points that ads and promoted content aren’t being delivered in the right context at the right time, that’s also because you simply can’t parse out “me time” from the rest of mobile activity.

With real-time marketing, personalized content, and super-customized multimedia, the only “me time” in the digital age is when your phone is shut off altogether.

(Infographic via HBR; image via Shutterstock)