French Social Media: A Valuable Marketing Tool
French social media networks are used less than US social media networks, but they are increasingly leveraged as a marketing tool.
It is common to assume that French social media is the same as in the United States. The Internet is an international phenomena. So, why should social media usage be any different in another Western society that also has a high Internet penetration rate? However, there are some large differences that have shaped French social media and have created a unique market. First is the French language and culture. Also, government regulation of online communities and privacy issues have come into play. Knowing about these differences is important for marketing decision makers to successfully market products and services in France through social media. Ultimately, it is the most valuable marketing tool available today.
American Use of Social Media Networks
In the US market, Facebook is the biggest social media network in general, and LinkedIn is the preferred business networking site. Youth aged 18-24 prefer to use Snapchat and Tumblr. However, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest skew to older users, according to Business Insider in 2014. Women prefer Pinterest. LinkedIn is used by 44% of Americans with a high income and education.
Worldview of Social Media Networks and Messaging Apps
Facebook is the largest social networking site in the world. Traditionally, its users have logged on socially with friends and family. However, it is increasingly called on for business. A 2016 list by Statista counts 1.59 billion Facebook users worldwide, followed by WhatsApp with 1 billion, Facebook Messenger with 900 million, and QQ with 853 million. QQ is an instant messaging network originally launched in China. Facebook acquired WhatsApp in February 2014, but it operates as a separate entity. YouTube has over 1 billion users, rivaling WhatsApp for second place.
A survey conducted by SimilarWeb in 2016, ranked the most popular messaging apps in the world for Android. WhatsApp led in 55.6% of the world, with Facebook Messenger and Viber following behind.
French Social Media Networks
As in the United States, Facebook dominates French social media and LinkedIn is the preferred business network. For example, Facebook accounted for 62.9% of French social media usage at the end of 2015. Google+ accounted for 21.6%, Copains d’avant 19.6%, Twitter 18.3%, and LinkedIn 14.6%, according to Mediametrie. The French use Copains d’avant as a network to keep in touch with old school friends. Youth ages 11 to 18 years old in France prefer to use Facebook (37%), Snapchat (27%), or Instagram (17%) for social media, according to a 2016 study by Generation Numerique. In France, as in the United States, Facebook Messenger is the most popular messaging app.
One of the largest social networking sites for business in France is Viadeo. It has 32 million members in the country. Also, Viadeo is commonly used in Algeria, Belgium, and Switzerland. However, LinkedIn surpassed Viadeo in France in 2013 as the most popular professional social network. In the end, national networks such as Viadeo simply do not have the same reach as international networks such as LinkedIn for professional communication.
Barriers to Social Media Usage in France
France has a high Internet penetration rate of more than 83%. However, in France social media usage is relatively low. For example, only 55.7% of Internet users accessed social media at least once a month in 2016, according to eMarketer. One factor is that the French government discourages some types of social media use because of privacy concerns over social media accounts. Furthermore, the government banned the use of the words “Facebook” and “Twitter” on French TV and radio in 2011 because doing so would give them an advantage over other social media networks. However, French social media usage is increasing despite these hurdles.
Using Social Media Networks in the French Market
Business owners who want to reach the French market can use Facebook apps to sell online and market their business, brand, and products with Facebook ads. The most used social networking site in France is Facebook. So, having a presence there is a must. Google+ offers a suite of communication services that are widely accepted in France. LinkedIn can provide business owners with a platform to market their products and services and to recruit employees.
Also, business owners can easily add social media widgets to their company’s website to link customers to sites dedicated to a product or service. Statistics of the usage of social media widgets on websites conducted worldwide in December 2016 found Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ most often, followed by AddThis, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Viadeo.
In conclusion, the French taste for social media is increasing, especially on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn. However, to make the most of a French social media campaign, it is important to also consider more local choices such as Viadeo because of its continuing popularity with the French population in particular. Develop a presence on all these sites with social media management tools such as Buffer, Sproutsocial, and Hootsuite and the guidance of an experienced inbound marketer such as ADEXMA.
By Mary Le Rouge
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