Last year I spent about a month examining the B2B social space across the globe. For context, I head up social media at a B2B software + services company, and we sell our products globally. As we’re entering this space, we know that what works on Facebook here in the US might not work on Facebook in Germany, and surely won’t work on Facebook in China, because it can’t (readily) be accessed.
So, what’s a marketer to do? I set out to answer: what are the popular social channels (not just ‘the big three’) in certain regions of the world? I shared those answers with my coworkers so they could begin to tailor their messages and interactions appropriately. A good strategy dictates not only what you should do and where you should spend your time, but also what you shouldn’t do and where you shouldn’t spend your time.
Much of my research was spent reading through Forrester Research reports, online publications, and talking with with our field marketers, program managers, and re-sellers. I credit all of them equally for the insight I collected, because after reviewing all of it, I can’t properly allocate a percentage of my learnings to each source. Suffice it to say: all were influential, and all were helpful.
Below is a snapshot of some of the insights I collected from my research. This is focused mainly on the countries in which my company does business, and I recognize not all countries are represented here. Also, some of the suggestions relate more toward B2B tech/software, so if you’re in B2B, but not necessarily software, keep that in mind as you review our results.
- Xing is very popular as a professional social network
- WekKenntWen and sevenload are also worth examining
- Broadband access is widespread (technology is not the barrier)
- Mobile web browsing is expensive
- Sharing isn’t common in the German culture (likely due to fear of reprisal)
- In general, face-to-face visits rank high in German culture (need to use social media to augment face-to-face visits)
- Viadeo is a dominant professional social networking site
- Work-related blogs not as popular in France as they are in the US
- Discussion forums are popular
- Broadband access is prevalent (takeaway: video is a viable medium)
- France has many spectators, and not as many sharers
- Peers and sales representatives (word-of-mouth and face-to-face) carry high influence
- Initially focus on LinkedIn, Facebook
- When asked about how customers learn about our products, response was, “Google is a first stop for many web experiences.” (my suggestion back to web team: we should focus on SEO)
- Mobile web browsing is expensive
- Social networking is not seen as a big value-add in business
- Initially focus on Mixi, NicoNicoDouga (social networking, video sharing)
- Information is often guarded; we need to respect anonymity
- Mobile browsing is a very big trend
- The culture prevents adoption, not the technology
- According to Forrester data, Japan has highest rate of “inactives” in all countries researched
- Initially focus on tudou.com (like YouTube), sina.com (very big; like Yahoo!, users can launch a personal blog), douban.com (book/knowledge sharing)
- Discussion forums are very popular
- Next, focus on 163.com, blog.163.com, network51.cn, kaixin001.com and renren.com (Xiaonei) (social/outside of work), youku.com (video), 6.cn (video), mop.com
- User-generated content (UGC) is very popular in China
- Google is not the number one search engine (Baidu is), so different search engine optimization strategies are needed
- Look into: Cyworld (aka Nate), Naver blog
- Hold off for now: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter
- Korea (at one time, and still may be): world leader in broadband penetration per capita (takeaway: ripe for video content)
- Popular video sharing sites include YouTube, Freechal, Nate, and Pandora
- Mobile browsing is popular
- Vkontakte is most popular social network service in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus (49M+ users)
- Available in both RU- and EN-language versions
What Can You Share?
Do you have some insight into working in any of these countries. Can you corroborate what I’ve shared? Refute it? Augment it? Other readers of this post can benefit from the collective information we have.