Following yesterday’s post, I continue today discussing the specifics of Forrester Research’s recent study on the difference in social media use throughout the world. As we’ll see there are very real implications for international SEO and marketing efforts as a whole. I’ll present information reported by Forrester according to the three main takeaway points outlined yesterday.

How many use social media?
79% of internet-using Europeans use social media. In Brazil, China, India, and Mexico, 93% of online users use social networks at least once every month.

How do they use it?
Forrester created a non-mutually exclusive stratification of user types. The most notable are Spectators, those who read blogs, forums, review, tweets, as well as watch video and listen to podcasts, and Creators, or those who publish a blog, publish website pages, upload personally created audio/video/music, or write and then post articles. 23% of European social media users are Creators on these sites, while 69% are Spectators. Japanese online users prefer Mixi to Facebook.

Cross-country and cross-cultural comparisons
City-dwelling Chinese online users are three times more likely to visit social networking websites than the Japanese. US (73%) and European social media users are mostly Spectators. In China and India, more than two-thirds of all online adults create social content, compared to the US (24%) and Europe (23%) – this is a considerable difference.  The impact of local culture can be seen in the numbers as well making for cross-cultural comparisons. Italians, heralded as being a more relationship-driven and outgoing culture, visit social networking websites at twice the rate of traditionally more private Germans.

Going Forward
It is clear that many use social media and companies spend money marketing via social media, and so there is great value in understanding what their customers are doing with the technology. So what would it look like to adapt your strategy? Well, a company will try to engage consumers differently in Spectator-driven countries (EU, US) than in countries whose social media users are Creators, like in China and India. This will be a common move once the information in this report is digested by decision-makers in the corporate setting and the SEO firms they contract to run their optimization campaigns.

Lastly, plans can be made with an eye to the future. It is noted that emerging economies are home to the highest rates of creators, and this will probably remain the case going forward. In Asia for example, the penetration rate in this region is just under 24%. Given the same economic growth and opportunity, many more people will be getting online, joining social media, and creating content in the years to come.