Again, this title is tongue-in-cheek, as there is certainly no one size fits all plan, as the implementation of one would achieve only mediocre results, miss out on great potential, and potentially damage a brand’s image in certain markets. There are strategy points that can be catered to each market, though, and one underlying guiding principle – understand each local context, what is popular, what the trends are, what the web behaviors are, and what characterizes their online activity to name a few elements ,and analyze how your business can operate in that market. With this post, we are continuing the subject and now addressing social media in Europe.

Social Media Use
Social media has fully arrived in Europe and it is being used to an extraordinary degree. ComScore data shows that Spain leads the region in terms of social engagement as 98.2% of the total population accesses some source of social media, 97.9% in the UK, and 94-96% for Turkey, Portugal, Ireland, and Poland. The rest of the countries’ percentages range from 89.1% to 93.6%, with Russia at 86.6%.

The differences are not so great between markets; however, knowing which markets experience the highest percentages tells you where not only are people using the platforms, but where there is a buzz surrounding its use. These markets, such as Spain, the UK, Turkey, Portugal, Ireland, and Poland, there exists an x-factor because its use is so high that utilizing platforms there could be that much more beneficial than using platforms in other markets.  Also, half of all of Europeans that have a social media account follow a company, so businesses need to reach out to establish these connections, an then act on them.

Which Social Sites?
So which platforms should businesses use? Facebook , Vkontakte, and Odnoklassniki are the top three sites. The second and third are primarily serving Eastern Europe and Russia. Twitter is the fourth leading site and other relevant local sites are Badoo covering several countries, Skyrock in France, Tuenti in Spain, and both Hyves and StudiVZ in Holland and Germany.  Businesses need to set up accounts and learn how each platform is used to engage with their local audiences on the sites they actually are on.

Businesses should do this sooner rather than later as well to get a presence, learn the platforms and tease out how best to use them. Analysts are now predicting that the bigger platforms who have “made-it” will continue to get bigger, and the smaller ones will only decrease in use. As a result, the best long-term approach is for companies to concentrate on the larger sites and learn to use them well.

In sum
There is no one plan, but there are strategy points for each market and an underlying principle for catering to each market. Businesses should evaluate which market best fits their products and demographic target audiences, need for their products, cultural and language implications, operational considerations including costs, among other important factors. If the business relies on search engine results, paid search, and coordinated internet marketing and SEO, then they need to evaluate the above numbers and see not only how big the audience is but also how much they are online and how they can engage with them through social – all important considerations.

For more information about getting online across European markets or how SEO, paid search, and social media can improve your online visibility, reach out to me directly at rbuddenhagen@webimax.com and @ryanwbudd.