By Mary B. Adams
In the last installment of this series we looked at social media in the UK. Today we’ll hop across the channel and examine what’s happening in France, my beloved adoptive country. It is estimated that 77% of the internet population has at least one social networking accounting in France.
What networks are the French using? France is the top 5th country on Facebook with close to 19 million users, of which 50% connect at least once daily. Almost everybody in France has at least heard of Facebook, including the over 65s. Facebook is the second most visited website in France after Google.
Facebook has a strong local competitor, Copains d’avant, a site that brings together former school and university students. Currently it exceeds Facebook in terms of penetration rates: 49% of French internet users have an account in this network according to a study by Ifop, a research company that interviewed 1,000 people, while Facebakers reports 43.9% of French online population have a Facebook account. This might not be surprising since Copains d’avant has been here since 2001, long before Facebook. Still, Facebook continues to experience growth and I can’t seem to walk down the street without hearing the word Facebook (pronounced “fess-bouk”) popping up constantly in casual conversation. It may not be long before it overtakes Copains d’avant.
Other popular social networks in terms of penetration rates are Windows Live Messenger: 46%; Trombi – which helps users connect with former classmates: 19%; MySpace, Skyrock, Viadeo: 8%; Hi5 (“social entertainment”): 5%.
When it comes to unique visits, YouTube is a favorite, as is Skyrock, the hugely popular “free people network” spawned by the radio station of the same name. France also has a great blogging culture. Approximately 63% of the internet population consults blogs “sometimes” or “regularly.” Flickr is also a popular platform for photo sharing.
And what about Twitter? France currently ranks as the #13 Twitter country worldwide with a 1% share of the total 100+ Million Twitter users. Nonetheless, Twitter is growing a lot in terms of public awareness (notoriété): from 28% in Spring 2009 to 54% of those surveyed in May 2010 per research conducted by BVA/LaTribune. Paris is among the top 10 most populated Twitter cities, and enthusiasts here meetup regularly for “Twittpéro” (Twitter + apéro) drink sessions to discuss all things Twitter.
As for business networking, although LinkedIn rules the English-speaking world, Paris-based Viadeo is number one business-oriented social networking site in France per Nicolas Marronnier of Social Media Club France. Created in 2003, Viadeo was inspired by LinkedIn and allows users to strengthen their professional networks and reputations, recruit staff, approach prospective clients and business partners, etc. With more than 25 million users, it is growing, and not only France. Recent acquisitions include China’s Tianji.com, Canada’s Unyk, India’s ApnaCircle, and the Spanish site, ICTnet. Viadeo offers a fully localized version of its site in 7 languages so that German, English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Dutch speakers don’t have to know French to get around the site.
What’s your take on social networking in France?