Guest Post: Nick Thomas on How Localization is Driving Social Networking Adoption in Europe

Today we have a guest post from Jupiter’s European Media Analyst Nick Thomas

We’ve just published a new report on Social Networks in Europe which reveals that regular usage is already widespread young Europeans: 32 percent of European Internet users aged between 15-24 visiting social networks such as MySpace, Bebo, and Facebook weekly or more frequently. But the European social network audience is far from consistent across different territories. The UK has benefited from the English-language bias of international social networks such as MySpace and Facebook with over a fifth of all Internet users regularly visiting sites: more than any other European market and higher even than the US.

Coherent localization strategies are key to driving uptake of social networks beyond the English language beachhead in the UK and early adopters in continental Europe It’s not just a question of translation, either, what one site founder calls “the easy bit”. The challenge for stakeholders – media companies and advertisers as well as the networks themselves – trying to engage users across different European markets is to localize not just in terms of language but in terms of culture as well.

The social networks’ localization strategies, meanwhile, make those sites increasingly relevant platforms for marketers pursuing localized campaign strategies. They should integrate their content liberally (via widgets or RSS feeds for example) to engage social networkers, who as the report demonstrates, are exceptionally active online citizens.

MySpace and Bebo are rolling out their plans to compete across Europe, but Facebook – big in the UK but with limited European presence elsewhere – is yet to unveil an international strategy, despite making noises about the importance of doing so. In the meantime sites such as Skyrock in France, Hyves in the Netherlands and StudiVZ in Germany are increasing their hold on local users.
I’ll be speaking about this at the European Tech Tour conference in Switzerland on Thursday, but if you are press and want to speak further about the report please contact me NTHOMAS AT JUPITERRESEARCH DOT COM. Clients please feel free to schedule a call with you client services manager.