Social media has become a global force, but that doesn’t mean that every country uses or treats social networks in the same way. There are distinct usage habits among national markets that PR pros need to keep in mind if they’re running a campaign for clients on a global scale. For example, if an American company is trying to break into a German market, the company may not need an engagement strategy for Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn so much as one for online forums.

Businesses need to keep these nuances in mind when ramping up market entry strategies. March works closely with international PR partners to help ensure that our clients have the advantage of local insight into the habits of social media prospects. This week, we thought we would take the chance to highlight some differences across six different countries and what they mean for PR.

Germany

Germans are more inclined to listen to people with expertise and authority. That means that one of their favorite places to connect is the humble forum. Albert Pusch, head of marketing at FACT-Finder, told Hubspot that it’s important to check out groups within each network so that you connect with the right audience.

Additionally, Germans don’t like Twitter. “Xing is the main network for B2B and Facebook is still King for B2C,” Pusch explained.

March’s research with our international PR network, ION, discovered that trust is definitely a main factor when considering a brand, with 68 percent of German CIOs saying it was extremely important.

France

While Internet penetration is extremely high in France (80 percent), French users tend to be more private than others. So private, in fact, that the French government has banned the use of Twitter and Facebook on TV and radio.

While that hasn’t stopped the rapid adoption of Facebook (over 25 million users) and Twitter, this aspect needs to be as brands try to integrate PR and marketing campaigns with social media in this region.

Japan

Social media users in Japan tend to favor anonymity more than most. Media Measurement’s study “Social Media Trends by Age and Country,” found that Japanese users enjoy online video and blogging, and social gaming can be an important way to connect with many audiences.

For PR pros, this could prove to be an opportunity to get experimental with engagement through gamification. This is also a way to work through any reservations Japanese users may have about privacy – if they prefer to be anonymous, but are playing social games, brands can build awareness and engagement by creating entertaining apps.

England / Australia

England and Australia, like the U.S., are infatuated with Facebook. Among Australian Internet users, Media Measurement found that 60 percent use Facebook. In the UK, a higher percent of the population (53 percent) is using Facebook than in the United States (43 percent).

LinkedIn is starting to become influential among UK users, too, with nearly 20 percent of the population using the professional social network.

UK CIOs are the least patient when it comes to consuming content – 29 percent said they would prefer just reading a headline to a news article.

Brazil

After the U.S., Brazil has the highest number of Facebook users in the world at 65 million, according to Forbes, which holds true for Twitter (41.2 million) and YouTube, too.

With over 35 million users, Google-owned social network, Orkut, is another popular social network in Brazil. Visitors from the country make up more than half of the traffic to the site.

China

With Facebook, Google and Twitter blocked in China, a number of prominent social media sites have spawned in their place. China’s population is extremely active on social media, with 91 percent of Internet users in China saying that they visited a social networking site in the past six months.

Qzone, Pengyou and Tencent Weibo are some of the most popular.

A Social-Global Approach

Brands hoping to make a PR impact in a new market through social media should first consider the unique usage habits among users in different countries. While there are social networks that have become pervasive (Facebook is the prime example here), that doesn’t mean that the same strategy will work in each different country.

Think carefully about what the company is trying to achieve and whether the best approach is to build a new social media presence for the target market or simply try to streamline existing social media accounts for new markets. An effective PR campaign is all about telling the right story to the right audience and, on social media, that story has to be adjusted for the right audience and through the right medium.

Want to learn more about international PR strategies? Check out ION, March’s international PR network.