Global Trends of Facebook

Yesterday Facebook revealed the Top Status Trends of the Year for 2010. While there were a lot of youthful trends such as the acronym HMU (“hit me up”) and generalizations (movies and games), the list shows more than just what was popular in 2010: it shows the importance of Facebook and social networking sites across the globe.

Facebook’s Global Presence

Facebook estimates that 70% of its users are outside of the United States. There are more than 70 translations available on the site already and while Facebook was born and raised in the U.S., it is undeniable that the network’s expansion globally is growing every single day. Facebook already has offices in Hamburg, London, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Selangor, Stockholm, Sydney, Tokyo and Toronto. Facebook’s global trend information was gathered from 236 countries. Most of the trends for 2010 didn’t even have much to do with Facebook’s country of origin – not even the sole celebrity on the list is American (Beiber fever, for better or worse, originated in the foreign land of Canada). Global events such as the earthquake in Haiti, the World Cup, and the Chilean miners dominated the list rather than one country alone. World moments outranked any one country’s news events, especially compared to last year’s trends that focused more heavily on products from the U.S. and events taking place solely in America.

The statistics involving other countries also show those countries using social networks, in general, to greater extremes than Americans. Out of 46 countries using social networking service (SNS) sites, Malaysians have the most friends (averaging at 233 friends) and Japanese users have the fewest (averaging at 29 friends). In general, Malaysians also are the heaviest users of SNS sites averaging at about 9 hours a week, followed by Russians on social networks for an average of 8.1 hours per week.

This trend has been clear since March when Nielsen determined social network usage by country. Social networks don’t just revolve around the American market.

And as of August, Pingdom showed the rise of other countries on Facebook as the United Kingdom, Indonesia and Italy have a rising presence specifically on Facebook.

What does this mean?

It means that the companies that currently use Facebook, especially the global brands, need to keep their eyes open for opportunities abroad. Geotargeting will be a plus but the main question to keep in mind will be: who am I trying to converse with? Who is my brand talking to? Conversing with a middle-aged person in Indonesia will definitely be different than a middle-aged person in Germany. Social media marketers and marketers in general will have to understand that when dealing with social networks, it must be done from the perspective of a global citizen. Localization is a must and more importantly, different cultures and audiences will need to be treated with deference and respect.

In short, the social media scene is bigger than us. It’s not just about Americans and the market in the United States. Although our products and brands appear across the globe (sometimes in unusual ways, like Lady Gaga being the sole connection between search results in China and India), it’s clear that the Internet is a global market and always needs to be treated as such.

Check back for future posts as we explore the other options available besides Facebook in different countries across the world. Mixi dominates Japan, Google’s Orkut reigns supreme in Brazil, Cyworld is popular in South Korea, Renren and Kaixin001 have a firm grasp in China, and there are many others out there: knowing where your global audience spends time is another important part of global marketing and social media. Facebook may be the dominating force currently across the globe but there are other highly successful and localized social networking sites out there that we will look at over the weeks. Make sure to also check out Brian Chappell’s social network analysis reports on geographic and demographic traffic data to find out other information on social networks across the globe.

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