Smartphones, other mobile devices boost social networks

Editor’s Note: This story is excerpted from Computerworld. For more Mac coverage, visit Computerworld’s Macintosh Knowledge Center.

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 percent 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 percent since mid-April. Overall during that period, the number of people using Twitter rose 27 percent, 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 percent of Twitter activity originated on desktop systems during August. Meanwhile 14% 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 percent of 262 respondents said the greatest effect would be through the use of social media on mobile platforms. Further, 12 percent 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 Sept. 8.

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 percent, 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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