Mobile Social Networking Gets a Boost from Facebook

Blame the i-Phone if you want, but get over it – and quickly.

OK, so you’ve barely gotten a handle on social networking as it applies to your business and now this thing has gone mobile!

It’s easy to grumble, curse and maybe smash an i-Phone or Blackberry, but this violence is counterproductive when really you need to understand why social networks are fighting for mobile dominance.

You already have an idea. It’s why we call the BlackBerry the “CrackBerry.” These addictive little devices hold our lives, making our relationship to them a bittersweet one because we can’t seem to live without texting and emailing while we walk down the street.

With Facebook looking to expand its mobile social networking capabilities, pretty soon almost everyone will be able to access their friends online as simply as getting their coffee in the morning – To Go.

According to CrunchGear 13% of Facebook users login from their mobile phones. That may be why the social network’s recent plans to partner with the manufacturers of Nokia, Apple and BlackBerry mobile devices gained mainstream attention.

Beebo, Brightkite and Loopt are all social networks sharing Facebook’s vision for reaching this mobile audience. These sites have either just begun or have been working with mobile handset companies to create custom-built applications that make mobile social networking even easier.

Small bits of mobile social networking success from the undisputed social kings Facebook and MySpace have left some experts weary on whether phones are the next big portal for these websites.

Last fall, Sarah Perez at ReadWriteWeb discussed a survey where nearly half of respondents say they accessed social networks (mainly Facebook and MySpace) via their mobile phone. Most of the smaller social networks, according to that survey, saw less than a 15% adoption rate. It left the ReadWriteWeb blogger shaky on whether mobile social networking would see success.

Times are changing.

With increased sales of smart phones it would be crazy for social networks not to reach out and touch mobile devices. It gives users what they want – their friends – while expanding the Smartphone’s features. In addition, the popularity of smartphones continues to rise. According to CNET News smartphone sales were up by approximately 70% in North America during the 4th quarter of 2008.

Building apps that make mobile social networking easier will increase smartphone sales and who better to teach Nokia about social networking apps than Facebook? Why not create a Win-Win situation?

What’s happening is users are looking for a one-stop-shop that can organize their busy lives. And now businesses need to be aware of the Smartphone apps that could connect them with potential customers.

Look on the bright side of this. Your company could be creating mobile apps that engage customers, like the mobile shopping app that Lucky magazine and NearbyNow produced for the iPhone. You have to admit it’s pretty ingenious to create an app that directs readers on where to buy shoes from the magazine’s March Shoe Guide issue.

Social networks going mobile provide businesses like yours with more opportunity to creatively reach your potential audience. And you can thank Facebook for a lot of that.