Facebook dominates globally but closer inspection reveals local competition

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Sebastian Hedencrona / June 01, 2012

June is GlobalWebIndex’s Social Platforms month, where we will go into detail on a range of social media platforms and how the world is interacting with them. The first article in this series takes a broad country by country look at the most popular social networking platforms to observe how those used varies around the world. We’ve taken the following subset of GWI markets as our examples: Brazil, China, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia, the UK and the US.

Facebook is clearly the leading social networking platform around the world with the exception of China, having over 50% penetration among social networkers. The UK and US are leading users of Facebook with 96% and 98% of social networkers on this platform respectively. In a number of countries, however, there is often a local social network that competes strongly with Facebook.

China, Japan, Russia, and the Netherlands have their own local players, and Facebook is not the leading platform. In China, where Facebook is officially banned, the Chinese social networks QZone and RenRen are the leading social network platforms. Japan’s Mixi is extremely competitive with Facebook showing a 3 percentage point higher penetration among social networkers. Russia’s two local social network platforms, Odnoklassniki and Vkontakte, outperform Facebook by 18 and 28 percentage points respectively. Lastly, Hyves is a local Dutch platform that has 67% penetration among Dutch social networkers.

This simple overview of what social networks are popular where illustrates the importance of localisation when planning a multi-national online strategy. Put simply, yes Facebook does dominate the social networking world but there are key platforms in local markets that require tailoring of strategy and presence. Of course, this says nothing of how different platforms are used by different types of people, which as marketers is the most critical aspect. Tune in throughout June for more in-depth insight from GWI!