As I have been participating in the #domosocial experiment, I am continually reminded of how our world is more connected today than it ever has been before. It used to be that I would have to be on a computer in order to read my emails or to access my social networking sites. Now that I have an iPhone, I can do that from anywhere I have access to a wireless or cellular network. In regards to my social media usage, I have found that I end up doing roughly half of all of my social media activity from either my iPhone or iPad. And I know that I am not alone in this. Tablets are becoming a regular household item and it is becoming more difficult to find someone who doesn’t use a smartphone or other smart device. Because of this I started wondering what kind of impact mobile devices have had on the social media world.
To start off, I wanted to see what the general social media usage was. I know from my experience that it is pretty difficult to find someone who isn’t connected to a social media site or service in one way, shape, or form. Yes you have the Facebook holdouts, the Twitter naysayers, or those who think that FourSquare is just a game that is played by elementary school kids. But to find someone who hasn’t interacted with at least one of the many social media services is rare. According to one set of statistics, approximately 96% of all people between the ages 18 and 36 are on a social network of some kind, and over 3.5 billion pieces of content are shared each week on Facebook alone.
Yet social media hasn’t always been as popular as it is now. Facebook was launched in 2004, and didn’t break 100 million users until August of 2008. In fact, Facebook didn’t really start growing rapidly until around the middle of 2007. Now, granted, there could be a large number of circumstances that would contribute to the user growth, but there is an interesting coincidence in terms of that time frame. It just happens that the first iPhone, which many considered to be the first truly internet ready phone, was released in June of 2007, and it was around June that Facebook’s growth started its dramatic increase in users.
As I mentioned before, it is easy to dismiss and difficult to really prove the possible relationship between the release of the original iPhone and the growth Facebook experienced. But at the same time, it is hard to ignore the fact that since the release of the iPhone, Facebook’s user base started seeing aggressive growth. Today mobile usage of social media sites account for a very large portion of the traffic. By the end of March 2012, roughly 83 million users were logging into Facebook on a monthly basis solely on a mobile device, and by the end of April of 2012, Facebook had 500 million users who had logged in on a mobile device at some point. For comparison, Twitter also has a very heavy mobile user base with around 80% of users browsing or tweeting from a mobile device. There have even been some social media platforms, such as Instagram and FourSquare that were originally made specifically for mobile devices. As time continues, mobile will gain greater ground than before.
As a web developer and as a technology enthusiast I have been aware of the rising trends to have more things available on mobile devices, but looking at the impact mobile devices are having on social media has been a great reminder just how big the desire for mobile content is. Social media thrives off of it, and as a mobile user myself I would love to see more mobile ways to interact with my favorite sites and or applications while on a tablet or phone. And I know that this is something that our customers want as well.