Smartphones, other mobile devices boost social networks

Twitter exec says use of microblogging site on mobile devices is growing rapidly; survey finds U.S. marketers taking notice

Sony Ericsson's tiny XPERIA X10 Mini Pro smartphone.

Sony Ericsson's tiny XPERIA X10 Mini Pro smartphone.

There's mounting evidence that smartphones and mobile devices are increasing the use of social networks and microblogging sites.

Twitter CEO Evan Williams earlier this month blogged that 46% of active Twitter users regularly use a mobile device to tweet.

In the post, Williams said that the number of users accessing Twitter on mobile devices had jumped 62 per cent since mid-April. Overall during that period, the number of people using Twitter rose 27 per cent, from 106 million to 145 million.

The company's Twitter for iPhone , Twitter for BlackBerry and Twitter for Android apps have helped fuel the growth of mobile tweets, he noted. Even with the mobile growth, Williams did note that 78 per cent of Twitter activity originated on desktop systems during August. Meanwhile 14 per cent of users accessing Twitter during the month did so via the mobile Twitter Web site, m.twitter.com.

Meanwhile a survey conducted by PRWeek and MS&L Group found that U.S.-based marketers also believe mobile social networks will be important to their businesses in the coming year. When asked which social media efforts would have the biggest effect on their companies and brands, 17 per cent of 262 respondents said the greatest effect would be through the use of social media on mobile platforms. Further, 12 per cent of the 262 surveyed said the biggest impact would come from greater use of mobile, location-based social networks.

The survey results were released on 8 September.

For years, marketers of all types have been interested in using location data on smartphones to give mobile users marketing and other pertinent information when they are close to a retail outlet. The controversy over Facebook's Places and user privacy notwithstanding, the connection between social networks and mobile devices seems secure.

For example, ComScore reported in June that social networking apps are the fastest growing mobile apps in the U.S.

From April 2009 to April 2010, the number of unique users in the social networking category grew 240 per cent, reaching 14.5 million, placing it third behind only weather and map applications, ComScore said. Another 30 million mobile users visited social networking sites via browsers as well, ComScore said at the time.

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Matt Hamblen

Computerworld (US)
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