A few years back, Germany was hardly fertile ground for social media. Take-up was comparatively slow, and for many people the notion of sharing personal news and views online was at odds with a more conventional, reserved approach to social encounters. In late 2013, though, engagement with social networks is no longer a rarity.
In October 2013, researchers at Tomorrow Focus Media (TFM) invited members of the firm’s online panel to answer questions about their use of social media. All those who took part said they were social network users—though that wasn’t so surprising, given the context of the original invitation.
In every age group, at least 60% of those polled said they used social sites for private purposes only. Yet more than one-quarter also used social networks for professional reasons (web users ages 55 and older were the only exception).
The list of top sites mirrored the emphasis on private connections and interests. Facebook was by far the most popular social network, boasting nearly 83% of the TFM panel as users. YouTube ranked second, with 51.8%, and homegrown network XING placed third, with 33.6%. Most Facebook members were frequent visitors, too. More than one-quarter said they were “permanently” on the site, and another 26.5% said they checked in multiple times each day. Only Reddit posted a higher proportion of people (28.6%) who were constantly logged in.
Most members of the TFM panel felt they would stay active on social media, too. Some 82% said they planned to spend as much time on social networking in the future as they did now, and 12.6% expected to devote even more time to it. Moreover, usage is increasingly device-agnostic. A majority of respondents said they accessed social sites on a stationary computer, a laptop and a smartphone, and nearly 24% had used a tablet to check in at a social network.
However strong the current enthusiasm for socializing online, it’s tempered by concern about the potential pitfalls. Over 70% of those polled by TFM said the security of their personal data and the ability to set privacy controls were both very important criteria in their choice of a network. Those considerations outweighed the actual facilities available on a social media site, and the number of friends or colleagues who were already members.
Luckily for advertisers, nearly two-thirds (64.5%) of respondents said they had visited the Facebook pages of brands or companies, and almost 70% of those said they had found valuable information about goods and services there. In addition, 13.6% said they were well disposed to ads and Sponsored Stories on Facebook, because they could learn more about current offers and find out what their friends and acquaintances liked.
On the other hand, few web users have made a purchase based on a social media ad. When Ipsos OTX and Ipsos Global @dvisor surveyed internet users in April 2013, they found that just 14% of those in Germany had done so—a lower percentage than in several other European countries, including France, Italy, Spain and Russia.
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