Forrester has released its report “Global Social Media Adoption in 2011“. The full report is available to Forrester clients only but we can help hit a few of the high points for those who aren’t there yet ;-).
In a nutshell, there is no clean definition of a social media user that crosses geographical boundaries. It would actually be shocking if it were reported that there was some kind of international social media profile. Social media is very personal and it will be driven by the social mores of users as much as anything else. The chart below is a quick look at the US v EU-7 (UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden) that shows the differences in the two regions.
No real surprise that in the US we talk more and join more. Please note that I am not confusing these actions with being any better or worse. It’s just what we do :-).
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What the study also revealed was the in India and China social media is well beyond a social phenomenon. It’s a way of life. Contrary to this “trend” in Asia, Japanese usage of social media is more subdued as their culture values anonymity much more. From the report
More than 97% of online consumers in metropolitan China and India engage with social media happily wiling away their days on Weibo (in China) and Orkut (in India). But Japan doesn’t follow the same pattern: 76% engage with social media, and only 28% visit social networking sites on a monthly basis. Just one-third of the percentage who do in metropolitan China.
For companies with an international market this can create some serious potholes that can be hit if close attention is not being paid to the various differences culturally on the social web. Common sense to many but how many times in traditional marketing history have we seen companies take missteps in foreign lands because they didn’t do their homework? This kind of trouble can now happen more quickly and more often if businesses do not stay vigilant.