Next stop on the map is Germany as I interview our partners about social media trends around the world. Stephan Fink, and his team at Fink & Fuchs, has always impressed me with his passion for our trade and the notable results of the firm. Similar profile to ours -- mid-sized agency specialized in business and consumer technology. Stephan was also the catalyst for the second annual European digital journalism study conducted by our network Oriella that's due out in September or October.
Here is the transcript from our discussion about social media trends in Germany.
What is the state of social media in your region?
In Germany, more than 90 percent of the so called "digital natives" are using the Internet -- primary uses are mail, job-seeking, flirting and search. Even though Germany is still behind much of Europe in using the social web (only 50% online are using social networks; throughout the world it’s 67%), with a growth of 12% annually we're catching up.
Besides the community-boom, especially German based communities like Xing, StudiVZ and SchülerVZ, Twitter is the big hype right now.
Just for fun, how would you describe your country's adoption of social media on an evolutionary scale: a) cell-like, b) amphibians, c) dinosaurs, 4) primates, 5) man?
Our current stage on the corporate-usage-side is amphibians just coming to land. On the consumer side, driven by digital natives, we are progressing like young men -- nosy and just doing it.
Are there any trends or incidents that have captured national attention and that demonstrate social media adoption in your country?
The Iran elections at the end of May this year and our own elections in Germany where members of parliament were twittering the result of the presidential election before it was officially announced. In the business community, Vodafone Germany started the Real Social Media Campaign at the beginning of July, which lead to interesting discussion within the Web 2.0 community and the national media. And since May, Twitter has gotten unusally broad coverage in all types of media including in prime time talk shows.
Is social media being used at all in business?
Wikis are used for internal and external collaboration, knowledge-, project- and process-management in many companies. Blogs are created for external communication and knowledge sharing, as a participation-platform concerning customer driven innovation. The number of blogs is relatively small. Opinion-forming blogs influencing a certain target-group are rare in Germany, because it’s not easy to create constantly interesting content for a big audience. Many of the most important blogs in Germany are run by journalists, media, companies or NGOs. Twitter has mostly been used as a news-channel or communication-platform for agenda-setting or as an issue-monitoring tool. Here's it's been more evolutionary than revolutionary.
Can you give an example of how you're using social media in your market?
Just last month, we launched an interview with our client Thomas Mickeleit concerning the “Twitter-Strategy of Microsoft PR in Germany”. The first tweet got 62 retweets, direct pickup by two of the leading media and requests for two more media interviews. On the long tail the launch resulted in 1,808 page views of the interview on our website with an average reading time of more than 8 minutes. Two thirds of the visitors came directly via Twitter, Facebook or Friendfeed.
In our day-to-day business the conception and roll-out of social media campaigns is becoming more and more important. We try to address all kind of platforms and we build and run the whole program for clients across Twitter, blogs, social media newsrooms, Flickr, YouTube, Slideshare, Facebook and specific groups within communities. This includes developing rich content and the conception of the right dramaturgy and approach to different groups. We're also talking about mobilizing people to participate online in whatever is getting more and more relevant.
At Fink & Fuchs we've been running an agency-wide blog for internal information and communication and we have smaller blogs for different client teams. After a year-long test run, we're about to launch an internal wiki for collaboration, knowledge-sharing and project management. More or less everybody is member of the business-community Xing, by far the number 1 in Germany. We don´t mix private Web 2.0-engagement of team-members with interests of the company.
Fink & Fuchs PR is participating on different multi-blogger-platforms that are related to our core issues. Our website contains a blog-based news-ticker, which will be extended to a living blog-platform. The agency has a Facebook profile; I've had a Twitter handle for about a year and the agency itself is on Twitter.
Overall, inspite of the hype, classic, real world is still predominant here. But social media is gaining more and more importance.
Stephan -- many thanks for your insight. Next up is a conversation with Paul Mottram, who runs Upstream Asia, about trends across Asia and Australia. I hope to drill down on specific regions like China in subsequent talks.