Our research at SSI across six major research markets finds Facebook dominating the social media landscape – except in Japan, where Facebook leads, but has a less dominant position with Twitter coming in at a close second. We asked people in the US, Australia, France, Germany, Japan and the UK about their use of social networking sites, video and photo sharing sites, micro-blogging and blogging sites, and instant-messaging sites. Given the complexity of defining some of these sites, we defined social networking sites as online platforms used by people to build networks or relationships with other people who share similar personal or career interests.
When looking at weekly visits, we see a great deal of similarity across countries and regions:
Twitter comes a distant second to Facebook everywhere except in Japan and is slightly more popular than the six-country average in the US and UK. Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and MySpace are tiny by comparison to Facebook, and we see MySpace almost completely disappearing.
In spite of Facebook’s dominance, its instant-messaging service, Facebook Messenger, is not as popular when compared to other instant-messaging services – although it’s more popular in the US, Australia, France and the UK. In Germany, WhatsApp is the most popular of these services.
Japan’s social media landscape is different from that of the other five countries in the study. In Japan, Line, a proprietary application for instant communications on electronic devices, is as popular as Facebook’s social networking service.
Turning to video sharing sites, YouTube is popular in all six countries. Fifty-seven-percent of people said they had visited this site in the past week, with sixty-five-percent of those in the US saying they had done so.
There is less consistency across countries in the popularity of image and video sharing social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram. In the US (forty-five-percent), Australia (thirty-three-percent), Germany (twenty-six-percent), Japan (twenty-eight percent), and the UK (twenty-four-percent), participants were significantly more likely to have visited Instagram rather than Snapchat in the time frame recorded. Again Japan shows a different pattern, with very low visit rate for Snapchat compared to Instagram.
It’s important to keep in mind when conducting research globally that online communication habits and platforms are different in different cultures so understanding the specific local landscape when planning any study is key, especially in the fast-moving world of online communication.