I’m in Germany for three weeks studying “The Changing Business Environment in Europe” at the WHU – along with some site-seeing. While I haven’t been able to make it all around the country, many of the people I have spoken with have very similar social media habits as the people I know in the U.S. Obviously there are differences in regions, demographics and cultures in terms of social media use. Generally, most people are on Facebook, but very few know what to do with Twitter.
A lot of people, especially students, use Facebook to keep in touch with each other. If you ask someone in they’re on Facebook, there’s a good chance that they are. But if you ask about Twitter, most people know about it, but are unsure of how to use it.
This is similar to the answers I get when I ask people back home. People can wrap their mind around connecting to friends and family via Facebook. And Facebook fan pages are fairly obvious too (although I think the “like” concept makes them more confusing. Twitter takes a bit more work to figure out. And Twitter’s homepage doesn’t make it easy (although they’ve improved vastly). Anything that requires a 101 book or article probably isn’t going to make it on to most people’s todo list.
Many people in Germany work in a different place than where they grew up. Since the country is much smaller than the US, this means about a 5-6 hour train ride to visit. Social media plays an important part of staying in contact with friends and family in different parts of the country.
Zuckerburg is probably happy to see Facebook catch on so well in Europe. Doing business in Europe has its advantages and disadvantages, but you have to play by the European Commission’s rules. And they’re much more strict on privacy issues – recently sending Facebook a letter about the changes from December. It will be interesting to see how Facebook handles the EC and whether any good comes out of it for all of us.