Social media is a global phenomenon indeed. Certainly Facebook, Twitter, Google+, in their own way, each make the world a much smaller place. The distance between any two people is shrinking as the number of network connections continues to proliferate. I’m sure you’ve heard at one point or another, that the distance between two people in an offline world is six degrees. In a recent Facebook study for example, the average degree of separation between two people in the network is only 4.74. When focused on one country specifically, such as the U.S., Sweden, or Italy, among others, the number of hops between two people further shrinks to 3.74.

Social networking is the new normal. No matter where you are in the world, there are social networks that only continue to bring us together. In January 2012, comScore published an interesting report, “It’s a Social World,” which opened a window into the world of social networking. The report contained several key findings, which aren’t a surprise to you or me, but they will deliver a wake-up call to the captains of industry who may be on a wrong course toward the future of customer relevance.

According to comScore, numbers show that social networking is the most popular online activity worldwide.  As you can see in the image below, social networking is a global phenomenon. Social networks for many, are the hub for their entire online experience. They introduce the need for any organization with a content strategy to rethink what they create, when, where and how. In October 2011, 1.2 billion users around the world visited social networking sites, which account for 82% of the world’s population. Most notably, nearly 1 in every 5 minutes is now spent in social networks. Within each network, attention is focused on interaction within the social graph where the 5C’s of Engagement must now account for those who at varying levels create, connect, consume, communicate, and contribute.

But social networking is only part of the story as platforms count for everything. Mobile devices are also fueling social addiction. comScore looked at individuals aged 13 and above and as a result, they believe that mobile social networking is going to be the wave of the future.

For businesses developing country-specific programs, comScore also provided a glimpse into the top 10 engaged markets for social networking. This should factor into your prioritization discussions.

1. Israel
2. Argentina
3. Russia
4. Turkey
5. Chile
6. Philippines
7. Columbia
8. Peru
9. Venezuela
10. Canada

As alluded to earlier, while demographics are important, try to also think beyond Boomers, Generation-X, or Generation-Y. Think Generation-C as those who live the connected lifestyle are injecting digital into their DNA. As you can see here, social networking growth is pervasive across the board.

 

Nielsen also released a report on the “State of Social Media.” While it mostly focuses on the impact of Social and Mobile technology in the United States, there is useful breakout of the Top 10 Web Brands by unique audience around the world.  I believe that this information should be considered in any social and web strategy. Here are the top 10 sites by country in no particular order…

United States

1. Google
2. Facebook
3. Yahoo!
4. MSN/Windows Live/Bing
5. Youtube
6. Microsoft
7. AOL Media Network
8. Wikipedia
9. Apple
10. Ask

Japan

1. Yahoo!
2. Google
3. FC2
4. Youtube
5. Rakuten
6. Wikipedia
7. Microsoft
8. goo
9. Ameba
10. Amazon

Spain

1. Google
2. MSN/WindowsLive/Bing
3. Facebook
4. Youtube
5. Microsoft
6. Blogger
7. Yahoo!
8. Wikipedia
9. Elmundo.es
10. WordPress.com

United Kingdom

1. Google
2. Facebook
3. MSN/WindowsLive/Bing
4. BBC
5. Youtube
6. Yahoo!
7. Amazon
8. eBay
9. Microsoft
10. Wikipedia

Australia

1. Google
2. Facebook
3. NineMSN/MSN
4. Youtube
5. Microsoft
6. Yahoo!7
7. Wikipedia
8. Apple
9. eBay
10. Blogger

France

1. Google
2. Facebook
3. MSN/WindowsLive/Bing
4. Microsoft
5. Youtube
6. Orange
7. Wikipedia
8. Free
9. PagesJaunes
10.Yahoo!

Italy

1. Google
2. Facebook
3. Youtube
4. MSN/WindowsLive/Bing
5. Virgilio
6. Libero
7. Microsoft
8. Yahoo!
9. Wikipedia
10. Blogger

Germany

1. Google
2. Facebook
3. Youtube
4. eBay
5. Microsoft
6. Amazon
7. MSN/WindowsLive/Bing
8. Wikipedia
9. T-Online
10. Web.de

Brazil

1. Google
2. MSN/WindowsLive/Bing
3. Facebook
4. UOL
5. Youtube
6. Microsoft
7. Terra
8. Globo.com
9. Orkut
10. Yahoo!

Switzerland

1. Google
2. Facebook
3. Youtube
4. MSN/WindowsLive/Bing
5. Microsoft
6. Bluewin
7. Wikipedia
8. Aple
9. Local.ch
10. search.ch

Some interesting findings emerge out of these numbers. First, Google is the top Web brand in each country except Japan according to Nielsen. Second, Youtube is a top 10 online destination in each of these countries. Lastly, Facebook is among the top 3 sites in every country except Japan. FC2 and Ameba are the country’s top 2 social networks.

Engaging Customers in a Destination Web and in The Egosystem

Revisiting the comScore report for a moment, we can see the overall Internet and Social Networking growth is imminent. As you develop content and engagement strategies for Web, social and mobile channels, consider this…the behavior on the Internet, social networks and on mobile devices is unique to each platform. There is no universal strategy that will cut across all platforms for every community you’re hoping to reach.

This.is.important.

Take a look at the graphic below. The top line in blue represents Internet growth. The bottom line in orange represents the overall of social networks. By reading between the lines, we can actually see a difference in the mindset of customers. The blue line represents the destination Web, i.e. websites, search engines, etc. The orange line symbolizes what I call the Egosystem, a Web experience where information finds people through the connections they make. It is in the understanding of how information travels and how it’s discovered in popular channels and platforms as well as comprehending customer behavior in thedestination web and the Egosystem that reveal the keys to meaningful engagement.

So why is this important? In the social economy, there are no strangers, only friends you haven’t followed or haven’t followed you yet.

For global businesses considering any social and web strategies to improve customer experiences and engagement, going global starts within going local. This is not about taking one campaign and broadcasting it around the world from central headquarters—even if it’s translated. This is about localization and true engagement with those who define social networking at the local level. In social networks people do not create an idle global or country-specific “audience,” nor do they anxiously anticipate the next big marketing campaign. This is Generation-C (connected) after all, and they’re connected and among the most discerning groups of customers your business has ever faced. Here, they are the network and organizations, your business, are the guests.

Before you go, I’ve assembled a list with top line thoughts to help guide you in the development of your global, and local, new media strategy…

The Top 9 Reasons to Go Local with Your Global Social and Web Strategies

1. Social Media is the new “normal,” and it is literally making the world a much smaller place
2. Employing a Global Strategy establishes a unified brand
3. Investing in a local presence builds a bridge between the brand and customers
4. Localizing and contextualizing content increases relevance, engagement, and resonance
5. Investing in the 5’s of community completes the last mile to improve customer experiences, increase commerce and promote advocacy
6. Global languages and cultures are extending your opportunity for commerce and community, but localization is the key to engagement
7. Prioritize each opportunity based on local markets that track toward business objectives and language opportunities
8. Think channel experiences and design local experiences to thrive on each platform (mobile, Facebook, web, etc.)
9. Finally, because your local customers and country managers want it that way

As comScore notes in its report, “Social networking behavior both transcends and reflects regional differences around the world.”

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