Over the last few months I’ve been on a quest to gain a greater understanding of how social media is used in different (mostly European) countries, prompted by a mix of client work and general interest. Following up from this post in November, I thought it time to share a few findings.
The first difficulty in researching this area is where to find information. Whilst a Google search can produce a variety of results, they’re not always the most up to date or most relevant. It’s also good to be aware that free demographic research results don’t always cover every country, so if you want to find out trends for Scotland or Luxemburg, you may have to use your imagination to think through possible data sources (Google Trends and Google Insights are a good start, as is looking at the local version of Google eg. Google France). For European data it’s also worth thinking through the other languages that research may be posted in and key terms in those languages.
However, given all that, here are some sources that cover most large countries, or have specific information for individual countries in English:
GlobalWebIndex Lite Tool
This comprehensive tool enables you to select a country, gender, age group and demographic profile. The results are three pages covering: motivations for using social media, quantifying social media involvement and a page examining the perception of brand use of social media. This is probably the most powerful of the tools listed here.
Forrester Social Technographics Profile Tools
Forrester’s Social Technographics data classifies consumers into seven overlapping levels of social technology participation. The consumer tool graphs their research in this area by country, gender and age group. The B2B tool graphs by company size and primary purchase category.
Whilst useful for indicative information put together with other research, the data is limited for certain countries and the B2B data is US only. The purpose of both tools is to highlight Forrester’s paid-for research (time to dig out that membership code if your company has one).
ComScore Date Mine
ComScore’s Data Mine is an index for all it’s publicly available graphs and data. For example this graph here showing average hours spent on social networking sites per visitor across Europe:
The graphs and data available are displayed in chronological order and by tag cloud, so you might have to do a bit of searching to find information that you are looking for. Again, worth checking sample sizes and when the research took place.
Hitwise Data Centres (by country)
Hitwise Data Centres list highly up to date information by for the countries listed above (current data being displayed for UK is dated 29 January 2011) on top websites (including social sites) and search engines, top industry search terms, top retail sites and search terms, top travel sites and search terms.
Ofcom (UK with some comparative data for other countries)
Ofcom (the UK’s communication regulator) publishes all it’s consultations and research online across it’s entire remit. Go to the Stakeholder section of the site to explore this. Of particular interest here is their annual Communications Market Report which is released each August. The report is usually a few hundred pages in length but the dedicated website highlights key findings for each year and breaks down the report into relevant sections. Each section is then broken down further by UK country and International data, so it is much easier to explore than in the past (see image). The PDF versions also contain graphs of the data.
As any good TV presenter might say: ‘there are other research sources and companies out there’, so please do add links in the comments if you’ve found any that you’d recommend to others, these are some that I am currently finding most useful. Whilst alone each is limited, used together these tools and data sources can give a good overview of socialmedia usage tendencies. But really they are simply just a good starting point. To get more specific data you may need to pay for it and/or research more. Using your own Google/web Analytic data for example is often overlooked.