Though online social networks continue to post dramatic growth, users still see them as as a way to communicate and interact with one another rather than a means for conducting e-commerce, according to the most recent Consumer Internet Barometer report from The Conference Board, Retailer Daily writes.

According to the report, the number of Americans who go online daily has risen during Q209, and 43% of internet users now report that they participate in social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. This is a 16 percentage-point jump from the 27% of users using social networks a year ago.

The report confirmed previous studies that found online social networking participation has especially grown among users ages 55+. Last year, only 6% of internet users in this age group took part in online social networking, compared with 19% this year.

Members of Twitter say their top reasons for Tweeting are to connect with friends (42%), update their status (29%), look for news (26%), and for work-related reasons (22%). When users are asked with whom they would like more access/interaction, 15% say celebrities, but 14% say their favorite company, and 13% say service providers.

This is not to say that social networks cannot be used effectively in marketing and promotional campaigns, social media will transform marketing as we know it. They’re powerful communication tools, and are becoming an essential part of successful marketing strategies.