Thursday, 22 September 2011

Intercultural Differences in Social Media Usage

Recently, I've taken to posting about half my twitter and Facebook messages in German. The majority of my folllowers is located in Britain, but Germans are the second largest group. I'd published some articles in German-speaking media, and after all - hey, I live in Germany!

So I feel qualified to tell you about some striking differences in German vs. British social media usage.

The first result (after about 2 weeks) was that my Klout score went down a whole point. (Let's leave aside the undoubted dubiousness of Klout, but in terms of pure numerics it can be trusted.) This prompted me to do my own research into the matter.

In the interest of easy access to my findings, I will abandon the narrative form and present my findings in bullet-point form.

  • German twitter/facebook users are organised tribally. They often know each other personally and then form Social Media nuclei.
  • A big reason for Social Media usage is to organize "Meet-ups" and get-togethers". Whilst these obv. exist everywhere, the German interest in them can almost be called obsessive.
  • German users group themselves locally. Once you found acceptance into one such town/region circle, many other users will follow you. Membership has to be "proven" via heritage, immense interest in the region, or - best of all - personal acquaintance.
  • German Social Media users are (in my experience) predominantly male. There are of course females but they tend to be even more tightly knit by interest or locality.
  • A (at least for me) slightly off-putting feature of German female SM usage is the tendency to give oneself childish, overly sugary "kuschelige" nicknames. ("Wuschelchen" etc.)
  • Internet technology is German male users' prime topic. (You might think this characteristic for men the world over, but it's definitely not true for British male social media users).
  • Interaction is mostly limited to these tech subjects. Even the shared regionality serves more as a form of glue than an actual topic of communication.
  • Germans hardly ever do RT's.
  • If there are RT's these are limited to notifications about meet-ups. Thereby serving as a sort of "Flüsterpost" - an internal network.
  • Germans (again this applies to males) are more prone to using Foursquare than other nations. There are users who hardly ever post anything but a Foursuare notification.
  • A good number of Germans only post deliberately "absurd", out of context posts, and don't follow anybody. Again, like the Foursquarers, this inhibits any sort of dialogue and reverts back to an old "Read Only" profile.
I am refraining from interpreting these findings. I merely wanted to take the subject of Interculturalism which so often hangs in yesterday's world of "The are so polite, The English" into a more up-to-date context.