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Social media hasn’t seen the phenomenal rise in Germany that it did in many other regional markets. One reason is that Germany’s population skews considerably older than the norm evident in most of Europe, and older adults are generally less attracted to social networks. Similarly, there are fewer young people—the cohort that has fueled social media usage elsewhere. Germany’s Statistisches Bundesamt reported that the number of residents ages 60 and older has risen consistently since 1950, and the number under age 20 has steadily declined.
Now, though, social networks are well and truly embedded in national behavior patterns, according to the latest “Social Trends Social Media” report from Tomorrow Focus Media (TFM). It conducted a panel-based survey of social media users in Germany in February 2015.
Over half of those polled said they accessed social sites several times a day. Women were more likely than men to do this: 77.3% of female users in Germany visited social platforms once a day or more, compared with 70.9% of males. Men were more likely to check out a social site just once a day or weekly.
Mobile devices have given a big boost to user numbers and frequency of access. For example, 62.2% of social network users who had a smartphone said they used it to visit Facebook. And the percentage of users visiting social sites via tablet rose from 23.6% in 2013 to 38.2% in 2015, the study noted.
Facebook struggled initially against homegrown social sites in Germany, and penetration remains lower in Germany than in other EU-5 countries. Despite that, the global giant is currently unrivaled in this market, reaching 80.5% of the social network users polled by TFM in early 2015. YouTube ranked second, with 60.9% penetration, and business network XING registered 28.2%. Google+ was a relatively close fourth place, at 27.5%. Twitter logged 23.1% of respondents, while fewer than one in 10 were Pinterest users.
In terms of engagement, Facebook again led the field. But Instagram made a strong showing, too; more than 80% of users in Germany visited the site at least several times a week.
TFM also asked social media users to rate the likelihood that individual social networks would survive and thrive in the future. YouTube was the clear winner here, with 81.3% of social media users in Germany thinking it would do well. Facebook garnered 79.3%, and Twitter 57.4%.
Notwithstanding the consistent growth in Germany’s online social audience, not all visitors to social networks were actually contributing, TFM found. In fact, nearly three-quarters (73.1%) were passive, leaving 26.9% of users who participated actively in social sites.
The research sample also had mixed feelings about the brand relationships fostered by social networks. Nearly a third said they followed their favorite brands on social platforms but weren’t actively involved with them. Just 11.9% said they followed brands and often shared branded content with their friends. A majority (56.5%) said they didn’t support brands on social sites in any way.
Signs of ambivalence were even clearer when the focus shifted to targeted ads on social sites. Some 16.5% said such targeting was a good thing because they saw only ads that were relevant to them. But 55.7% said it bothered them that the ads they viewed were based on their personal data and interests. The remainder found it irrelevant that ads may or may not be tailored in that way.
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