A social media strategy for Europe – why it isn’t that easy

map of Europe, focusing on GermanWhen you create a communications campaign of any sort, it is crucial to understand
who your audience is. Try picturing a specific individual that you’re writing for. Do
you see a woman in her 30-ids that you’re trying to talk to? Great! But wait… Is she Spanish, a very avid user of social media, but does’t speak English? Or is she a German business woman who speaks English but does not trust Twitter?

The language challenge for your social media strategy for Europe

To define a social media strategy for Europe can be tricky. One reason for that are the many different languages spoken in Europe. While most Europeans learn English in school, many do not feel very comfortable with it. According to 9 out of 10 prefer browsing in their own language. In some countries, for example Belgium and Switzerland, up to four official languages are spoken and English might be the third or fourth language learned at school.

So, when you build a social media strategy for Europe, you need to think about the language challenge. Do you want to target several European markets? Should your blogs and tweets be in multiple languages or do you create a new social profile for every language? Who should “own” social media in your organization, the global or local teams?

A country’s culture impacts the use of social media

Europe is defined by different cultures. This also impacts the use (or not) of social media. Some countries, like Britain, the Netherlands and Spain, are using social media very frequently, be it Facebook, Twitter, Blogs or others. In fact, a 2012 report carried out by Semiocast found out that the Dutch were global leaders in terms of Twitter activity.

Other markets are more conservative about sharing information. Germans, for example, use Facebook pretty frequently, but Twitter is not used too widely. Many country leaders are expected to have an official Twitter account. If Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor, started tweeting, Germans would react very surprised. Why is that? Germany has historically placed a lot of emphasis on privacy and data protection. Sharing a lot of information on the internet is therefore for many Germans uncomfortable. It is not surprising that it was German authorities who fined Google for “illegally collecting massive amounts of personal data including emails, passwords and photos while setting up its disputed Street View service”.

All is not lost for your social media strategy for Europe

So, is it impossible to develop a social media strategy for Europe? Certainly not! But there are a few more aspects that you need to consider.

Define your audience – before defining your specific audience, carefully think about what countries you want to focus on.

Choose your language – think about multiple profiles, translation and management of platforms

Know cultural differences – not everything that is a trend in your country will be popular in other markets.

Chose social networks – what are the  most relevant social media networks in the countries you’re targeting?

 

Communicating in international environments is challenging, but very interesting and rewarding.
Stay tuned for more insights and information!