The use of social media is widespread in emerging countries, where markets are often larger and more dynamic. However, the way social networks are used also differs between emerging and developed markets.
Emerging country companies have stolen a march on their developed country counterparts when it comes to social networks. A report published by Experian Business Strategies Ltd for international consulting group Grant Thornton points to a substantial gap between different regions of the world in the usage of these tools. While only 35% of European companies (22% in France) use social media in some kind of capacity, 53% of all companies in Latin America, and 50% in the BRIC countries do so. According to Jean-Jacques Pichon, a consultant at Grant Thornton, "this gap is due to a difference in mindset and much greater confidence as regards social media among emerging country companies. We can link this phenomenon to their faster-moving economies."
Relatively low Internet use counterbalanced by huge populations
This confident attitude translates into a strong willingness to make widespread use of these platforms. Some 80% of all emerging country companies surveyed state that they want to intensify their use of social media - as opposed to only two thirds in Europe who say this. But these numbers are quite surprising when compared to the figures for Internet use. For example, only 35% of all Chinese consumers have Internet access. In India this figure falls to 10%. "However,” says Jean-Jacques Pichon, “the size of these markets is such that even a small percentage of the population can amount to many hundreds of millions of users." This is the case in China, for example, where 35% of the population represents 485 million potential buyers.
Usage varies from region to region
There are however geographical disparities in companies’ usage of the new media. While firms in Europe and North America most frequently cite advertising and recruitment, customer relations come first both in the ASEAN countries and in Latin America. However, these new media have not yet become first choice source for obtaining information. Some 78% of company bosses still say they read a newspaper at least three times a week.