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Social Networking Across Europe a Patchwork of Penetration Rates

Social network usage is high in the Netherlands, Italy, while France, Germany lag the region

June 9, 2016 | Social Media

More than half the population of Western Europe will be using social networks by 2019, but adoption rates across the region are surprisingly diverse, and growth rate are also slowing according to eMarketer’s latest forecast.

Social Network User Penetration in Western Europe, by Country, 2014-2020

The Netherlands, Italy, Norway and the UK have some of the highest rates of social network usage in Western Europe, with at least 69% of internet users in each of these countries regularly visiting social networks. By contrast, France and Germany rank toward the bottom for social media usage in the region, with just 55.7% and 57.1% of internet users, respectively, using the platforms on a monthly basis—well below the regional average of 63.2%.

eMarketer senior analyst Karin von Abrams attributed the discrepancy to multiple cultural and logistical issues. “In both France and Germany, we see relatively less social networking for several reasons,” she explained.

“Privacy concerns—and mistrust of global online players such as Facebook and Google—are more widespread there than in Italy, Spain and the UK, for example. In addition, German cultural norms are fairly conservative in terms of interpersonal relations and revealing personal information; that tendency is reinforced by a population that skews older than much of Western Europe. Language barrier issues and a lack of national personalities embracing social media are also contributing factors on a platform such as Twitter.”

Social Network Users in Western Europe, by Country, 2014-2020

Since its last forecast in July 2015, eMarketer has adjusted its social networking user figures upward for Italy and Spain thanks in part to newly available data. Additionally, increased smartphone adoption combined with faster Wi-Fi speeds and cheaper data plans are driving more social network activity within these nations.

eMarketer estimates the monthly social networking site audience in Italy will reach 26.1 million this year, up from 25.1 million in 2015, which represents 69% of internet users. In Spain there will be 21.3 million social network users in 2016, and this is expected to rise to 24.0 million by 2020, which will account for 63.3% of internet users.

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