One of the most interesting retail trends is mobile social commerce, in which consumers shop via social media networks on their smartphones. For retailers looking to take advantage of this trend, it is important to understand that Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter may be the obvious leaders in some countries, but other locales have developed very popular social media platforms in their own languages.
Here is retailers can get the most out of their international social media efforts.
According to Pew Research, 71 percent of online American adults use Facebook, with 28 percent using LinkedIn, 28 percent Pinterest, 26 percent Instagram and 23 percent Twitter.
VK (vKontakte) is Russia’s largest social network with 228 million registered users, including Ukraine. Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. VK and Odnoklassniki, Russia’s second largest network, have managed to keep their leading positions in the market, but there is a significant overlap between their audiences. Facebook is gaining users, as well; the network had only 10.8 million Russian users in 2013, but that number nearly doubled in 2014.
Many brands report good results from social media advertising in Russia. In 2013, advertisers spent $83.7 million on VK ads and almost double that amount advertising on Odnoklassniki. Targeting options are extensive, allowing advertisers to efficiently reach their target audiences.
You Tube, Facebook and Twitter are blocked in China, but their Chinese equivalents are expanding by leaps and bounds. According to China Business Review, the Chinese typically engage in social media far more than other populations for various reasons, including the separation of families due to rural-to-urban migration, and a distrust of information disseminated by the government-controlled media.
WeChat, known as “weixin” in Chinese, has more than 300 million users in China and overseas, enabling them to send text, photos, videos and voice messages over mobile devices.
In contrast to YouTube, China’s video platforms, Youku and Tudou, generally feature professionally produced content. Sina Weibo is the most popular microblogging platform in China, enabling the posting of videos and photos, as well as comments on other people’s updates.
Douban is a specialized social networking site which attracts users interested in books, cinema, culture and music. Kaixin001 appeals to an audience of young professionals, generally white collar workers in first-tier and second-tier cities. QZone is the largest social networking site in China, which attracts a young audience, often from second- and third-tier cities. QZone is generally used by migrant workers, who share personal diaries in a blog-like format. RenRen, which is similar to Facebook, attracts university students who use the platform to connect with classmates. Many users upload videos and photos of their activities.
The Chinese are extremely active mobile shoppers. In January 2014 alone, 27 percent of the population bought an item using their mobile phones.
According to Comscore, Japan’s online audience is older than the global average. Only 34 percent of the country’s Internet users are under the age of 35. Because the country was an early adopter of mobile Internet, most Japanese social networks have been developed for mobile. At present, Japan has 50.8 million smartphone users.
The number of Facebook users in Japan has grown to almost 17 million, a 300 percent increase since 2012. However, this platform is mainly used as a business network or for job hunting. The Japanese language version of LinkedIn was launched in 2011, but in a culture where self-promotion and job hopping are frowned upon, there is little demand for this type of business networking.
Line is similar to China’s WeChat. It is more like an instant messaging app than a traditional social network, but is quite popular; 50 million of its 300 million registered users are from Japan. Line has monetized itself by motivating users not only to follow brands but to take action. This has made Line very attractive to retail marketers.
Mixi used to be the biggest social network in Japan. Membership, which is by invitation only, is restricted to users over the age of 18. Mixi users have their own page, where they can upload blogs, share photos and form communities. The Japanese version of Twitter was launched in 2008. Today, over 9 percent of active Twitter users are Japanese.
According to a 2014 Gfk report, Latin America is the fastest growing region for smartphones. In 2014, 109.5 million smartphone units were sold in the region, a 59 percent surge from the year before. eMarketer estimates that there are 227 million social network users in Latin America.
Facebook is the most popular networking brand. Its largest South American markets are Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. Brazil (34.88 percent) and Mexico (36.89 percent) fall into the top ten countries globally, with the highest Facebook penetration percentages per population. Brazil is Facebook’s second largest market after the US, with 65 million active users.
Latin Link notes that Facebook takes up more than 95 percent of the time that Latin Americans spend on social media. Mexicans reportedly spend an average of six hours a day on social media, while Argentinians spend an average of 4.3 hours a day. Young Brazilians have an average of seven social network accounts each. The 71 percent of Brazilians sharing content on social media constitutes the highest percentage in the world among social media users.
Twitter usage is most predominant in Brazil (28 percent), followed by Mexico (17 percent), Venezuela (15 percent), Colombia (12 percent), Chile (8 percent), Argentina (7 percent) and Peru (3 percent).
According to 2015 forecasts, Germany will become the continent's largest smartphone nation with 44.5 million users. The UK is expected to have 39.4 million smartphone users by the end of next year. France (32.9 million), Italy (28.6 million), and Spain (25 million) follow as the continent’s leading mobile users.
According to eMarketer, over half of the consumers in Germany now use a smartphone, compared with 41 percent in 2013.
For Germans, especially the younger generation, the Internet appears to be synonymous with social networks, with more than 90 percent of peoples ages 14 to 29 years are registered on them. The most popular networks are Facebook, Google+, Xing, Wer-kennt-wen, MeinVZ/StudyVZ, LinkedIn, MySpace and Lokalisten.
In the UK, the number of smartphone users is expected to rise gradually from 36 million in 2014 to 46 million in 2018. Almost half of UK adults state that they access social networking sites. Among those aged 16-to-24 years 75 percent are active on social media.
Facebook is the most popular social networking site, with a unique audience of 35.1 million in March 2014. Facebook’s digital audience has grown 6.4 percent over the past 12 months, with an audience three times larger than Twitter and LinkedIn. Nevertheless, according to research from Econsultancy, LinkedIn is responsible for 64 percent of visits to corporate websites from any social media site.
The popularity of social networking websites across the board has increased on mobile handsets. Facebook is the most popular site on mobile, with a unique audience of 21.1 million in April 2014. Twitter’s popularity on mobile devices (8.4 million) exceeds that of Google Plus (3.1 million), and LinkedIn (2.9 million). In 2013, the number of active mobile phone Facebook users in the UK was 21.7 million, and is expected to reach 31 million users in 2018.
The most popular UK social media sites include YouTube (40 million), Facebook (35.1 million), Twitter (11.9 million), LinkedIn (11.3 million), Google Plus (8.8 million), MySpace (0.9 million) and Friends Reunited (0.4 million).
France: France’s smartphone penetration rate is expected to reach 66 percent this year. Viadeo is the most popular social network, with 65 million members in 2014. Members include business owners, entrepreneurs and managers. Both Viadeo and LinkedIn are particularly effective for French companies experienced in cross-border commerce. The most popular social networks used in France are Viadeo, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, MySpace and Google Plus.
-According to Buzzador, smartphones have surpassed laptops and televisions in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark as the most-owned device.
Facebook is the most popular social network in Scandinavia, although Twitter is gaining popularity. According to Alexa, Facebook is the second most popular site in Denmark (after Google.dk and ahead of Google.com). Slightly more than half (53 percent) of the Danish people are on Facebook, with 60 percent of the users are between ages 18 and 44. YouTube is the fourth most visited site in Scandinavia, with a mixture of brands and individuals as the most popular channels.
If you want to take advantage of the growing social mobile commerce trend, you need to be where your buyers are. The world doesn't revolve around Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Regional social media networks should play a role in any cross-border marketing program.