Cultural influence on digitalization
How the Italian social media situation is fast-growing in the last few years
The world of social media is not that simple as it might look. We are used to interact on daily basis with our colleagues, friends, relatives, applying our habitual (familiar, routine, common, established, typical) way to engage and build ‘mostly’ (usually, commonly) better relationships. But what if we need to interact (connect, socialize, relate) with people with different culture, origin and traditions, most probably far away from our way of thinking? What if we have to reach a potential client with no clue of our product or service?
The Italian market incarnate, for what I saw in my personal experience, the perfect scenario in which all these questions could become reality. You don’t need to be specifically interested in engagement or investment in the Italian market, or not even interested to know more about the Social Media situation in Italy. But wait a minute, because this article is much more than just the analysis of the social media trends in Italy. I will show you another side of the scenario by sharing my personal experience of how social media works in the region where I grew up, introduce to you the importance of knowing your audience profoundly and explain you why the success is not guaranteed even though you use the best tools and plan everything so carefully.
Do you really know what your audience is looking for? Do you understand your potential customer?
Let me start by explaining the differences between regions and cultures through my personal experience related to my studies. My first encounter with social media came about (occurred, took place) in 2013 thanks to the internship experience in Ireland. Before my Irish internship, the social media as Facebook or Twitter were for me just communication tools to chat with people or form of entertainment by playing some games. I hadn’t thought of them as of instruments to expand client portfolio and drive revenue of companies. This experience made me realized, that I wanted to know more about social media marketing and marketing in general and the best solution to fill this gap of expertise was to attend …in Ireland and acquire theoretical knowledge that I was missing at that time.
When I look back at myself in 2013, a fresh graduate with no idea about the power of social media platform to increase the amount of potential clients or improve (strengthen, ameliorate, sharpen, perfect) the brand authority, the question comes to my mind: ‘Was it me that I was not informed enough or there was common awareness surrounding the region that I’ve come from?’Let’s see how the statistic at that time were showing the Italian social media situation:
According to Republica.it the Italian web scenario in 2013: only 54% of the entire population use internet at least one time per day, way behind the European average of 62%. Despite of the Global connectivity increase, still 34% of the Italian population has never used internet in comparison to the European 20%.
If we take a close look at the online presence of the Italian businesses, the situation is way worst. Only 16% of the big Italian companies is active on the web against the 35% of the EU companies, 20% of Italian population has purchased service or products online against 47% of European Union.
This results undeniably indicate a conservative Italian behavior against digital transformation.
Moreover, the social media scenario was not entirely different except from one platform:
Facebook was counting 23 million monthly Italian users at that time, leaving his potential competitors far beneath: Google+ (3.8 million), LinkedIn (3.5 million), and Twitter (3.3 million).
What did the Italians find Facebook so attractive rather than other platforms such as Twitter, so successful in many other countries?
According to Vincenzo Cosenza: ”There’s an initial stage, more complex, whereby users on Twitter are required to build a network of contacts, there’s the asymmetry of the relationship between users, in general there is less stimulus for the average user compared to Facebook.” (Vincenzo Cosenza, Social Media Strategist at Blogmeter).
The Italian digital reality had a long way to go to catch up with the Europe and the use of social media except from Facebook was inconsistent. No surprise, that it was a huge discovery for me to find out, that thanks to an accurate and planned social media usage, a businesses can enlarge its portfolio of client and drive more revenue. At that stage the business that wants to penetrate the Italian market place, has two hypothetical scenario. The first one is to use a traditional channel and the second one to become a pioneer with an aggressive social media campaign.
Nowadays the situation looks different, in fact in 2016 the internet usage in Italy has reached 63 % (Font: Wearesocial), a big step forward in just a short period.
This result has been definitely affected also by a deep penetration of social media in Italian’s lifestyle. Facebook remains, as in the past, the leader of the social media scenario with 28 million of active users. Then there is Youtube, just a step behind with its 27 million active users, what indicates a strong multimedia content interaction. With a strong gap there are other social media platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr with 8 million users and the new baby Snapchat with 256 thousand active users. (Font juliusdesign.net).
The results show a significant change in just a period of three years. As I stated before, this strong digitalization is led by the major penetration of social media in Italian’s daily life. The network effect represented by Facebook has generated month by month, day by day, the necessity to stay connected and engage with friends, relatives and the rest of the world.
As a consequence it helps to establish a beneficial environment for the companies that populates the Italian market. The businesses in this new scenario can easily reach their target audience through the social media channel and understands the customer’s needs from a different point view.
As I stated before, the Italian social media case represent just an example, of how the circumstances and the environment in which you are operating can play a big role in your marketing campaign.
In order to draw an accurate customer profile, make sure to bear in mind five essential parameters:
- Customer culture (Operating a territory analysis, for the region or geographical area in which you want launch your product or service);
- Customer ID (Employing a demographic segmentation will be vital to figure out the preferences);
- Look at the market ( Don’t forget about your competitors. Analyzing strengths and weaknesses of yours competitors will be a key success for your business)
- Customer favourite channel (Channel communication analysis to understand how to get in touch with your audience in the most appropriate way);
- Stay current ( Keep yourself updated about everything that is happening on and beyond your market)
I personally consider the key points, mentioned above, relevant to underline in order to engage with your target audience and grow your customer portfolio in the fastest way possible.
Do you have any particular experience with the market of another country? Have you ever been forced to adopt a different kind of approach from the one that you are used to, to engage with potential customer?
Feel free to leave a comment below, and share with us your personal view.
If you enjoyed the article, please spread the word and don’t hesitate to connect with me on yours favourite social media platforms.
Many thanks to stop by.