Social Media Goes Mobile

Social media sites are hot, accounting for 11 percent of all time spent online in the United States and what’s more they’ve already gone mobile.
With 350 million members, Facebook is the number one social network worldwide. What’s new is that some 65 million of these users now update their profile and community from their mobile telephones.
Equally surprising is the fact that mobile users spend as much time on Facebook as PC users do, according to comScore, a market research firm. For its part, MySpace announced that almost 20 percent of the connections to its site are from mobile telephones.
In Europe, mobile social networking is growing rapidly and will reach over 450 million users by 2014, according to Pyramid Research.
The trend is definitely here. For social networking enthusiasts who want to keep in constant contact anywhere and anytime, the ideal tool is in fact a mobile phone. What’s behind this new craze? And does it present privacy risks? Here’s the answer from our experts.

How is the growth of mobile social networking tied to smartphones?
There are two main reasons; the increasing numbers of smartphones out there – mobile devices that provide the most popular PC applications such as instant messaging, calendar, Internet access and application downloads – which goes hand in glove with higher speed mobile networks. Taken together, smartphones and faster networks enable anyone to communicate, just like with a PC but from wherever you are.
This has created a new type of behavior for mobile users who can interact with their social networks in real time. While riding on the subway or walking down the street you can update your status, tweet, post a photo you just took, give your opinion on a new movie as you leave the theater – the possibilities are endless.

From our expert point of view…
“Until recently mobile phones weren’t adapted to the instant and rich exchanges which happen on social media sites. This mainly came down to the design of the phone in terms of its small screen and keyboard as well as slow network speeds. Smartphones changed all of this with a better multimedia experience, and the wide availability of high-speed mobile networks (3G and 3G+). Another big advantage, in the vast majority of cases, is that smartphone subscribers choose an unlimited Internet contract, which allows downloads and the sending or receiving of files such as photos, while managing their budget.”
Alexandre Szyda, Telecom Marketing Manager, Gemalto

What is data convergence and what role does it play in the success of mobile social networking?

The rise of smartphones is not the only explanation for the rapid take-up of mobile social networking. Another important factor is data convergence, or in other words, being able to access our information from any device. Whatever communication tool you choose, your social media information is stored on a centralized platform, whether it is photo galleries, contacts, messages or your calendar. And all of this data can be accessed not only from any computer but also your phone, video game console or any other device with an internet connection.
This easy access to your information through all of these channels, especially mobile devices, has made the user experience on social networks simpler, more enjoyable and instantaneous.

What risks are there in mobile social networking?
You must take the same care in mobile social networking as you do from your home computer.

. Privacy:
The most important considerations are for your own privacy, along with that of your friends, family and other community members. It is essential that you carefully consider what information you put online.
In addition, each social network offers you choices about who you let access your pictures, posts and other information online. Each of us then has the possibility-and responsibility-to define safe boundaries around our own private life, just as with your PC. See, How do I keep my personal information private among my friends on social networking sites?

. Personal data:
In the same way, it is the responsibility of each of us to decide how much of our personal information can be used for commercial purposes by the social media site. Each social network enables you to refuse or accept their use of your information. You need to review these options and manage them. Our Focus article, Managing Your Digital Identity on Social Media Sites, covers this subject in detail.

. Password security:
You must manage your password security very carefully on your mobile phone, especially considering that you might lose it. Make sure you are using a strong password for access to your mobile phone. This is a good idea under any circumstances, but if you are using your mobile phone for social networking or e-commerce, it is critical. For tips on creating safe passwords, see How do I choose a good password?

From our expert point of view…
“Fortunately for now, mobile phones haven’t been targeted by viruses and other threats to our private information that can infect PCs. While we anticipate their eventual arrival to mobile devices after many more years, for the moment only a few real attacks have been identified. However, just as with your PC, it is equally important to carefully manage your passwords and logins, to change them regularly and to choose strong, complex passwords.”
Alexandre Szyda, Telecom Marketing Manager, Gemalto.

Can I update all of my social media sites at once from my mobile phone?
There are a number of options that make it easy for you to update your different social media sites all at the same time from your mobile phone. Two services that let you post from anywhere to anywhere using your mobile phone are and hellotxt. You can also use Vlingo’s mobile application or TweetDeck to update your status on Twitter or Facebook.
Please note that Facebook also has an option that automatically posts your updates to Twitter, and vice-versa.
Something new is
Google Buzz, a social media offering based on Gmail that is available on mobile phones. Google Buzz connects sites you may already use-Twitter, Picasa, Flickr and Google Reader-and lets you import your stuff, provides one step up-updates and has very friendly tools for sharing, viewing and managing photos.

What’s coming next in mobile social networking?
Today’s applications on mobile phones are derived from existing PC software. The next phase will be specific new capabilities optimized for multimedia smartphones.
Location-based services is one area where you can expect a lot of change in the near future. With augmented reality software such as Layar, you will be able to know if somebody is a member of a social network, just by using your mobile phone camera. You will then have access to this person’s profile in one click.
New applications will make it much easier to manage and share the pictures you take on your mobile phone with your friends and family.
As these new applications simplify currently complex services then mobile social networking will just get more and more popular.

From our expert point of view…
“The more we turn to social networks, the more the Web itself will become social. Take the example of the Facebook contacts application, which is right now accessible on nearly 15,000 Web sites. This makes it easy for us to rapidly build communities from a Web site and to share opinions and information with others who have the same interests.”
Alexandre Szyda, Telecom Marketing Manager, Gemalto.

To sum up
1.    You can now use your smartphone to access social media sites and any of the information posted to them in much the same way as with your home computer.
2.    Monitor personal information you put online from your mobile phone in order to protect your privacy, and that of your family and friends.
3.    Try services that let you post from anywhere to all of your networks using your mobile phone, such as and hellotxt.