Marketing

Differences in How Cultures Utilize Social Media

While social media use differs by culture and country, the overall effect of social media is to bring our world together to share information and stay connected.

Social media has become so pervasive that physical businesses have started adding uniquely photogenic settings to attract customers. It’s not uncommon to see a group of teenagers posing and smiling for a camera in front of a unique or unusual backdrop, such as a large wooden swing on the beach or multi-colored angel wings painted on a building. 

While there are similarities, and the above-mentioned group of teenagers could just as easily be in Los Angeles, Paris, or Beijing, there are also many differences in how cultures utilize social media based on cultural values, ideals, and concerns about privacy. 

Individualism Versus Collectivism

One key way in which social media usage differs is based on the idea of individualism versus collectivism. This cultural training guides how we interact with each other and the environment on social media. 

Individualistic countries prioritize individual rights and goals before family, community, or country. Collective countries prioritize collective well-being and goals over individual goals. 

These individual versus collective priorities are seen in the types of posts, reason for utilizing social media, and content consumed on social media. 

Beyond the individual and collective, research has shown that each culture prefers different uses of social media. 

Purpose of Social Media Use

A two-year large global consumer study looked at the social media behavior and uses by country and region. The findings indicate different priorities from the collective “staying in touch with family and friends” to the individual “researching products to buy”. Here are the pertinent findings:

China 

China is home to 18.47% of the world’s population. Social media is used primarily to stay in touch with family and friends. WeChat is the most popular social media platform.

India 

India accounts for 17.7% of the world’s population. Social media is primarily used to locate jobs and employment opportunities. Orkut is the most popular social media platform. India also has more users on Whatsapp, 391 million, than any other country in the world. 

Japan

Social media was primarily used to research products to purchase. Blogging and Twitter are very popular in Japan, but the most popular social media platform in Japan is Ameba.

South Korea

Koreans use social media to stay up to date on news and events. South Korea has one of the largest worldwide internet markets. Naver is the most popular social media platform in South Korea. 

Australia

Australia has the highest social media engagement of any country in the world, with the greatest number of hours spent on social media each month. Staying in touch with friends is the primary social media use, with Facebook being the most popular social media platform in Australia. 

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, like in Japan, researching products to purchase is the primary social media activity. While Facebook is the most popular social media platform, it is followed closely by Youtube, Whatsapp, and Instagram in the UK.

European Union

Across the European Union, Facebook remains the most popular social media platform. Users turn to social media to stay up to date on current news and events. All, except for the French, rate news and events as their primary social media use. Staying in touch with friends is the primary motivation in France. 

Brazil

In Brazil, social media is used primarily to research how to do things. This highlights the unique cultural needs and interests of Brazilians. Facebook is the most popular social media platform in Brazil, with Pinterst and Twitter at a distant second and third place, respectively. Brazil is also the second largest user of Whatsapp in the world, after India. 

The United States

In the United states, researching products to buy is ranked as the number one social media activity. This year, Youtube has surpassed Facebook as the most popular social media site in the USA. These top two are followed by Instagram, Pinterset, and LinkedIn, in that order. 

Economic Drivers

Economic drivers for opportunity in the day-to-day lives of people are naturally reflected in their online activities. 

Some of the wealthiest countries in the world, such as Japan, the UK, and the USA all rank researching products to buy as the number one social media activity. This reflects a higher disposable income and higher standard of living. 

In contrast, India, with 28% of its population in poverty and a rising middle class, notes searching for employment and work opportunities as the number one activity. And Brazil, with 20% in poverty, researching how to do things also indicates its population’s drive to better their opportunities.  

Social Media Unifies

While social media use differs by culture and country, the overall effect of social media is to bring our world together to share information and stay connected. Social media is increasingly leading to a fully-interconnected global family of cultural diversity. 

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