International Marketing: Social Media Policies in Germany
Current Social Media Marketing Landscape
Last month, Germany passed legislation against social media companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter operating in the country. The law reinforces Germany's position as one of Western world's most aggressive countries in what constitutes as free speech on digital platforms. Social media companies could face fines as much as $57 million upon failure to delete extremist messaging, such as racist slogans, slanderous comments or hate speech.
Among the developed nations, German consumers show significantly low usage of social media sites. The statistics estimated by the Pew Research Center reveal:
- 27.5% of all Germans are over the age of 60.
- 50% of German adults using the internet or owning a smartphone, use social media. This is in comparison to 71% Americans and 66% UK citizens.
- While 81% of German adults aged between 18 and 34 use social media, only 39% of adults above 35 report the same.
- Along with Denmark and Switzerland, higher education in Germany is associated with significantly lower use of social media.
Top Social Media Sites in Germany
Despite strict internet laws and preference for traditional media, there has been a steady rise in the use of social media as a marketing tool. In a recent poll, 47 percent of 723 companies in Germany had a social media presence, and 15 percent more were in the process of creating one.
The top 5 social media networking sites in Germany are:
- Facebook (69%)
- YouTube (28%)
- Google+ (17%)
- Stayfriends (12%)
- Wer kennt wen (8%)
Best Practices to reach Customers using Social Media in Germany
Based on the above statistics, there are some factors to keep in mind when using social media as a marketing tool in Germany:
Collecting minimum personal information from potential customers and being completely transparent helps develop relationships. Historically, the Nazis often arrested people on the basis of information gathered by their spies. In addition, German privacy laws are strict compared to other countries, and there is a general distrust of the data collection methods used by American companies like Google and Facebook.
2. Strong Traditional Media
Nearly 55.7% of consumers in Germany trust traditional press over social media. There is a high preference among consumers to use newspapers and public TV as the primary source of information. As a result, while marketing in Germany, the same reaction to social media as in other countries cannot be expected.
Both the highly educated and those aged 35+, are found to be more conservative about forming interpersonal relationships and sharing personal information. People who are less educated and belonging to the millennials population are a likely target audience for social media marketing.