Two Trends Driving Social Media’s Growth

Posted by Brian Cavoli on September 13th, 2010 in , , ,

There are probably a lot words that come to mind when you think about what’s driving social media, but here are two you should take seriously – mobile and maturity. A couple recent studies provide some pretty compelling data points on each of these trends.

Mobile

Twitter’s co-founder, Evan Williams, reported in a company blog post that mobile access to Twitter has jumped 62% in the past 4 months. Right now, 16% of all Twitter users access the network through wireless devices.  This is up from just 5% in April.  After Twitter.com, the mobile site (m.twitter.com) is now the 2nd most popular way people access the community – ahead of 3rd party desktop apps like TweetDeck.

Facebook’s own stats page claims that 150 million of their members around the world are accessing the site on mobile devices each month.  This is up from a published report of 100 million at the beginning of the year. In fact, Facebook claims that these mobile users are twice as active in the community as non-mobile users. The company’s introduction of Places, their Foursquare-like location-based service, tells you a lot about their commitment to mobile.

This social networking migration to mobile devices is exciting news for marketers.  Status updates and wall posts on these sites are spontaneous, stream of consciousness, and sometimes impulsive. They are at their best when they are a natural extension of the conversation people are having with their friends and colleagues online and offline. While this dialog certainly occurs when you are sitting at your computer, it is more interesting, and more valuable to marketers, when it can take place instantly on a conversation companion in the palm of your hand.

Since product-related conversations and experiences occur almost every moment we are awake, having the ability to share those thoughts as they occur with just a few thumb strokes will make for richer and more frequent social media contributions.

Maturity

Here is more proof that social media is growing up.  Pew Internet’s latest study finds that social networking among the 50+ crowd has doubled in the past year.  The number of online users over the age of 50 has jumped from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010.

The chart below shows how social networking has grown for each age group since social media took off in 2005. While each group experienced growth in the last year, the increases among the more senior groups are the most dramatic.

The report identified a few factors driving this change in behavior:

  • Older adults are much more likely to reconnect with people from their past
  • They are more likely to seek information and support for health-related issues
  • Social media enables them to bridge generational gaps so they can share their skills and knowledge with more people.

There are few other spaces—online or offline—where tweens, teens, sandwich generation members, grandparents, friends and neighbors regularly intersect and communicate across the same network.

-Pew Internet “Older Adults and Social Media

Whether your customers are on the go or going gray, social media provides marketers access to audiences that cannot be matched anyplace else.

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