Social media moves so fast, it's hard to keep up. Here are the week's top stories in scan-friendly format:

  • FourSquare Goes International: Translates To 5 Languages
  • HTC Launches Android Phones with Dedicated Facebook Buttons
  • How Twitter's Trending Topics Originate
  • How Do Small Business Use Social Networks?

FourSquare Goes International: Translates To 5 Languages

Mobile World Congress is underway in Barcelona, Spain. Among the speakers was Dennis Crowley, CEO of Foursquare. The check-in service has seen some dramatic growth lately and, in an effort to expand international growth, the company has released new versions of its application in five languages.

The latest stats from Foursquare show rapid and sustained growth. There are now 6.5 million users on the service, who generate about 2 million check-ins per day. There have been a total of 420 million check-ins and, as reported here, the company experienced 3400% growth in 2010.

The internationalized versions of Foursquare are available for iPhone and Android. If you're from outside the English-speaking world, does this make you more likely to use Foursquare, or are there other aspects holding you back?

HTC Launches Android Phones with Dedicated Facebook Buttons

Mobile World Congress is the event grabbing all the headlines in most tech blogs this week. While Android phones and tablets are catching most people's eyes, the social networking world should home in on two devices from Android phone maker HTC. The powerhouse in mobile phones has released two phones with a distinctive feature:  A dedicated Facebook button prominently placed on the front of the devices.

The HTC ChaCha and Salsa are the first social phones with a Facebook button on the front. The Facebook button launches an app that allows you to update your status, share web links and post the music you're listening to. The ChaCha is an all-touchscreen phone with a 3.4" display, a 5-megapixel camera and features GPS and Wi-Fi. The Salsa has a full QWERTY keyboard for those most interested in messaging. Both phones will be available in the coming months.

An Android phone with dedicated Facebook ties is a huge step for the mobile Facebook app. Unlike regular phones that merely have the Facebook app available, the dedicated button makes the social networking aspects even more sticky. These phones will sell well in an otherwise crowded Android phone scene.

How Twitter's Trending Topics Originate

How does a topic or set of words make it to the holy grail of being a Twitter "trending topic"? HP's Social Computing Research Group wondered the same thing, and conducted a study to analyze trending topics on Twitter. HP analyzed more than 16 million tweets and queried the search API every 20 minutes to gather its data.

It's a common assumption that the frequency of tweets makes it a "trending topic." This is true to some degree, but as HP discloses, a more important factor is the specific subject and reach of a tweet that makes it more likely to be a trending topic. According to HP, 31% of trending topics are re-tweets and 72% of those retweets come from a mainstream news outlet such as the New York Times or CNN. So, "influencers" aren't driving trending topics, but rather interesting topics that are spawned by mainstream media are picked up by others on the service.

Another interesting tidbit -- most trending topics stay so for less than 40 minutes, meaning a '"rend"on Twitter is very short-lived. Do you pay attention to Trending Topics on Twitter? Or do you just use the service without paying attention to what the most talked-about topics are?  Please sound off in the comments.

How Do Small Business Use Social Networks?

Social networking is a great communication tool that businesses large and small are starting to use. Aside from having a website and email marketing, social networking is the new main area of online marketing that companies are using. To show how small business users are using social media, Postling polled 20,000 of their users.

Of the most-used social networks, Twitter and Facebook each have 78% and 75% use respectively, followed by LinkedIn at 30%. 1 in 3 Postling users have multiple profiles across networks. Where are most small business having engaged conversations? Twitter is shown to be a more interactive medium that Facebook or the other platforms. However, for driving traffic,  Facebook is more active for generating hits to links.

Postling, in evaluating the data it acquired, recommend being on Facebook and Twitter because of the benefits of each unique network. Of course, Postling itself is a tool to have multiple accounts, so the source is a bit sketchy, but the data does show benefits to businesses. With tools such as Seesmic, Tweetdeck and HootSuite, using and interacting with multiple networks is not at time-consuming as it once was.