One Site Does Not Fit All – International Social Media

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Social Media Around the Globe

“Think Globally, Act Locally” – This age-old business adage is one which global companies looking to maximize their marketing efforts should not ignore when it comes to social media marketing. In order to build credibility and earn significance within foreign social media, we must act locally when exploring opportunities globally. In order to reach target markets in different countries, international companies should deepen their knowledge of domestic social networking platforms and how different cultures use social media.

U.S. brands looking to leverage social networks internationally know that while their messages need to stay consistent regardless of the region, the language, cultural reference points, platform and tactics, all need to be tailored for each market,” said Scott Monty, head of social media for Ford Motor Company.

According to a study published at the end of January 2010, Nielsen observed the online social activity of consumers around the world and discovered an 82% increase in time spent on social networking sites in December 2009. But, what social networks are these different countries using? As culture and behavior shift across countries, they also establish a new dynamic within each social network creating a universal population that adapts what they know to what they learn and experience.

Companies should learn how consumers around the world use social media and take advantage of the platforms to conduct consumer research, launch products, manage public relations crises and more. For instance, Facebook stands as the default social network, throughout much of the West, gathering all demographics. The same does not hold true in China, where Facebook was recently banned (much to the dislike of our friends at the Palo Alto headquarters), and a handful of social networks attract segmented audiences, ranging from urban youth to migrant workers. Think about it. Facebook is the largest social network globally with 500 million + active users, and China has 400 million social network profiles without having Facebook as its leader.

As we zoom in on social media usage in different countries, we see other established and emerging social networks that are unheard of, or not very popular in the United States. Let’s look at Brazil, the leading country in active social media usage, where Google’s Orkut dominates. In fact, over half of Orkut’s global traffic comes from Brazil, which equates to around 20 million monthly visits. And the decreasing in U.S. popularity, MySpace, has been Brazil’s third largest network for a few years.

To get a good visual image of social media usage around the world, view Italian blogger, Vincenzo Cosenza’s map below that portrays the most popular social networks based on the most recent traffic data (December 2009) as measured by Alexa & Google Trends for Websites.


World Map of Social Networks


Different social media usage patterns and network popularity tells a great deal about the Internet and the country involved. Continue Reading >>