Social Media Usage in France

Having spend a fascinating day in the company of many of France’s leading social media experts at Monitoring Social Media Paris last Friday. I got a pretty good picture of social media usage in France.

Frédéric Montagnon, Director of Marketing at Wikio – one of Europe’s leading blogging portals, that also offers social media monitoring (and, as was demo’d to me, a very cool new localised reputation management tool) – pointed out that Twitter is not yet widely used in France, certainly compared to the millions of users in the UK and US. There appears to be a far greater emphasis on blogging – which has always had a very strong tradition in France (the popular Le Web conference which was held on the two days before MSM Paris was originally called Les Blogs) –  and the use of content services, such as YouTube and SkyRock.

During a feisty panel discussion on the topic of “Why Should Brands Monitor Social Media?”, Cedric Deniaud pointed out that Minitel (a pre-Internet and rather clunky public communication network, unique to France) still has five times as many users at Twitter in France. He might also have added that Facebook as ten times as many. Since launching a French language version in 2009, Facebook’s membership has steadily grown in France, reaching 12 million late in 2009. It’s followed closely in usage by the “French Myspace”, Skyrock ( formerly Skyblogs), which has around 11 million users in the country. Copains d’avant French version of the UK’s once popular Friend’s Reunited, which connects old school-friends, is the third most used social media site in France, with around 6 million users*.

That said, Nicholas Saintagne from Spotter, a leading French social media monitoring company, (who spoke with Sophie Gupert from Duke, part of Razorfish) explained that Twitter can still be a source of valuable market intelligence. Spotter did an analysis of over 50,000 Tweets and although they classed over 50% as irrelevant chat, they still managed to identify 21k “conceptual” Tweets – i.e. those which contained a substantive statement of value or interest. Using this data they were apparently able to deduce some valuable insights for their clients – so there’s clearly value in brands monitoring social media in France.

From our perspective of using social media to promote the conference itself, Paris was pretty much like Boston, San Francisco, New York, Miami, London, Las Vegas and all the other places we’ve run conferences. By connecting with local media partners, blogging and Tweeting, and engaging constantly, we were able to fill the room with social media people. Perhaps that’s to be expected, since our audience is made up for early adopters, but it shows there’s a vibrant social media culture in France – and that bodes well for all of us in this industry.

*Stats from ComScore.
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