Mobile social networking has grown 187 percent in 2007. While we’re still in the early phases of smartphone adoption, almost one-tenth of mobile users (9.6 percent) now use social networks on their phone. In 2008, there were 147 million mobile social network users worldwide. EMarketer predicts that there will be 803 million in 2012 (18.8 percent of total mobile subscribers), and believes that mobile social networking will play a significant role in mobile marketing: “Although the total mobile social network user base in 2012 will be under 20% of the worldwide mobile user population, it is likely that these users will have a disproportionate impact on marketing, media and mobile communications because creating and sharing digital content (user-generated and professional) forms much of the social networking experience,” says eMarketer.

Currently, mobile social network users are less engaged than their PC counterparts, using their phones mainly to check messages, comments and updates, reports ABI Research, who found that 60 percent of mobile users do primarily this, while only 30 percent upload photos.

While mobile social networking is more popular that some other mobile uses, like watching video, it is less popular than most other options. The highest percentage of mobile users used their phones for searches, local or otherwise. 15.6 percent of mobile users use their phones for local searches, while 14.3 percent do non-local searches.

Researching movies, restaurants, and bars is also a popular mobile activity. 13.7 percent of users get movie or entertainment info via their phones; 11.7 percent get restaurant and bar info this way. 12.3 percent use their phones for instant messaging.

By Mark Alvarez