Have you ever wondered how different your perspective would be if you had been born in a different country? How your view of the world, your behavior and the way you interact with people would be different? This would certainly impact the way you would use social media as well.
Let’s look at how social media is used in Germany, China and Brazil – broadening our perspective and in the process, learning three key social media lessons.
- Germany trails behind the US in adopting social media . Blogs are not yet a part of mainstream media and have no significant influence on public opinion.
- Only 58% of German internet users are on social networking sites (compared to 77% in the US ).
- The most popular social networking site in Germany is called StudiVZ , however Facebook is quickly gaining market share.
- Culturally, Germans tend to be very private and do not freely share personal information. Many still feel that their data is not safe online.
- Germans place a high value on university degrees or professional certifications and don’t trust unofficial sources .
- For Chinese internet users quite the opposite is true - 92% use social media , actively chatting, blogging and micro-blogging.
- One local player, Qzone , dominates the social networking market. Western social networking sites aren’t understanding and adopting to the Chinese culture which, for example, has a much higher tolerance for intrusive calls to action (e.g. application invitations).
- Chinese contribute more often online (e.g. commenting on blogs) than citizens of western cultures.
- Overall, Chinese are more likely to openly share personal information online. The IAC found that Chinese “feel free to say and do things online they wouldn’t do or say offline”.
- In Brazil, Orkut – Google’s social networking site - is synonymous with the word “Internet”. 73% of Brazilians online are on Orkut .
- ComScore reports that many other social media sites are found in the top 20 sites in Brazil: Windows Live (#3), YouTube (#5), MSN (#8), Blogger (#11), RapidShare (#14), Wikipedia (#15), 4shared.com (#16), WordPress.com (#17), Blogspot (#18).
- According to DMLCentral , Orkut is used in Brazil as “a place to keep in touch with friends, but also a place to show others, including strangers, who they are and what they're about”.
- Brazilians carefully craft their online persona. Posting messages, joining communities and uploading pictures are all activities that are well thought out and in line with the image they want to portray. Image and reputation is an important status symbol and guides online behavior
Although the examples above highlight cultural differences between countries, these differences can also be found within or across national borders: teenagers versus parents, singles versus couples etc. By looking at all types of differences, we come away with the following three key social media lessons.
Lesson 1: Understand The Culture
You need to analyze and understand the culture of your target audience. Every customer segment has its own culture. In order to develop an efficient social media presence, you have to analyze the deep - seated motivations, fears, concerns and hopes of the customer segments you are targeting.
Lesson 2: Find The Right Platform
Just because a social media platform like Facebook is very popular, does not necessarily mean it is the right platform for your customer group. Based on the understanding of your customers’ cultural identity, you can determine the places where they ‘hang out’ and are willing to engage in meaningful ways.
Lesson 3: Accept Change
Social media is synonymous with change. Accept it. There is no point in getting upset when new disruptive features and technologies get released and your audience is not sticking to your plan. Monitor what’s happening in the marketplace and be ready to correct course.
By looking outside our own borders, we are exposed to new view points. It forces us to think in different ways and lets us think creatively about using social media most effectively in our own circumstances.
In the words of Henry Ford, “If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view and see things from that person's angle as well as from your own.” Let’s apply this mindset to leveraging social media for marketing around the world.
Photo Credit: noticelj