« Return to Blog

The Surprising Cost of Social Media

There aren’t too many people in the UK Web Design Industry who think that social media is bad news. As a team of London web designers we have experienced first-hand the benefits that social media can bring to local businesses. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms are a great way to connect with people and communicate key messages in a dynamic way. They’re great for business, great for personal use and great for web design.

Social media is free, powerful and easily accessible. It’s hugely compatible with the latest website design and SEO developments. It’s a content marketing dream, and in just a few short years it has served to connect the world’s online population in an almost unthinkable way. Many of us now carry smartphones that allow us to engage with all of our social networks at the click of a button.

However, Social Media can come at a cost…

The team at Search Engine Journal have released this fascinating infographic (click to zoom!) showing the impact that social media has had upon smartphone users. There are some statistics which we would expect to see; it’s no surprise to hear that Facebook is the world’s most downloaded app, or that the USA has the largest share of mobile broadband subscribers.

There are some more surprising details. Whilst the cost of data has plummeted over the past 5 years (and is predicted to continue doing so) the increasing popularity of data-intensive social media sites is causing smartphone data usage to soar. Running a smartphone is unlikely to become dramatically cheaper in the immediate future because we are growing accustomed to accessing so much data!

One of the primary causes for the increasing demand for data is our growing love for photographs and video. The infographic suggests that streaming 10 minutes of Youtube video a day on your smartphone costs in the region of $438/year. Even a casual Twitter user who uploads 1 photo per day and views 10 can expect the annual cost to be more than $125.

What implications does this infographic have for web designers? Here are a few things that we’re learning about mobile web design, responsive website design and website performance:

  • There is a huge need for simple, clean, minimalist website design. The growth of smartphone use has put the onus on web designers to produce web pages which are quick to load and easy to use. It’s also notable that despite the statistics quoted above social media sites have been some of the forerunners in this regard!
  • We’re seeing a big uptake in responsive website design. This allows smartphone users to access websites in a more suitable, screen-specific format. It helps with functionality, reduces the need to load unnecessary (and therefore expensive!) site content and helps keep browsing time to a minimum.
  • Whilst worldwide website size is growing (the average site is now more than 1MB) we’re seeing a movement towards minimalist web design that reduces the overall size of the site. This also helps improve loading speed, another key ingredient in a successful mobile-friendly site!