One of the first panels I attended this year was Lost In Translation: The Nuances of European Social Media. Here are my notes, tidied up considerably:
One of the first questions was about the UK’s place in the online world. Should companies create UK-specific presences and communities, or direct them to EU or North American channels? Everyone agreed that UK-specific content is a good idea, but said that what it really comes down to is giving your audience a choice. They will follow a channel or join a community based on what interests them as well as geography.
There is no “European way’” The EU provides bureaucratic overhead, but you need to do your market research on individual countries.
There was a lot of interest in European social media conferences. PICNIC in Amsterdam is the closest to a Euro-SXSWi. European conferences are less expensive, less commercial, and more community-oriented than most of their NA counterparts. There’s Social Media Week in London and Berlin, and Ignite; but the Euro versions are more “underground” and low key.
A Canadian who works in Germany says she’s at SXSWi because in her experience Europeans doesn’t have the same passion and drive around social media and tech – the consuming nature of work and the mentality of, “Let’s go out and try this, throw some shit at the wall and see what sticks.” Europeans’ jobs are their jobs, not their lives.
In Europe, social media is generally seen as more of a hobby than something you do commercially.
“Techies” are on social media a lot, a big gap between them and the mainstream. It’s really the common denominator for techies worldwide. The hacker community overlaps with the political sphere: hackers are on government panels and commissions.
Someone wondered which social media platforms prevailed in Europe. A panelist said that there used to be a lot of cheap copycats of Facebook; but now that Facebook has localized, it’s taking the lead.
In terms of campaigns, getting your “super-customers” to be your online advocates is very effective. It takes a lot of resources to accomplish, but works well. Your success in approaching bloggers will vary by country, though. It’s easier in France, where there are a greater number of professional bloggers. Germany is highly resistant to commercialism, so it’s more difficult there.
Twitter is still a very early-adopter service in Europe. The techies and hackers use it. Location-based services are popular.
Personal rights trump free speech. As a result, tough libel laws discourage blogging negatively about anyone.
“What’s the best online service we Americans have never heard of?” Answer: Spotify.
I asked about consistency of messaging and brand presentation in large multinationals. In my experience, some European company bloggers and Twitterers are less concerned about being on-message, and are more willing to present the brand in bolder ways in social media than their North American counterparts. (Think the Blue Monster.)
Wikipedia in Germany is the second-largest Wikipedia version. The German editors want Wikipedia to be THE encyclopedia in Germany, so they are very rigorous about quality and relevance. They are even stricter than the U.S. editors about companies editing articles related to their businesses.
Finally, they strongly recommended reading Robin Grant’s blog post with statistics about the European social media sphere.
- Stuart Bruce @stuartbruce
- Guillaume du Gardier @gdugardier
- Elizabeth Albrycht @ealbrycht
- Neville Hobson @jangles
- Jed Hallam @jedhallam
- Benjamin Ellis @benjaminellis
- Amelia Torode @amelia_torode
- Kerry @kerryatdell
- Dominic Burch @dom_asdaPR
- Igor Schwarzmann @zeigor
- Kevin Dykes @kdykes
- Johannes Kleske @jkleske
- Robin Grant @robingrant
- David Noel @david
- Matt Gierhart @mattgierhart
- Stephanie Booth @stephtara
- Nicole Simon @nicolesimon
- Caroline Drucker @bougie