Mapping the Social Internet – what part of the world is the most developed?

In the latest (July – August) issue of Harvard Business Review, I found a very interesting article by Mikolaj Jan Piskorski and Tommy McCall – mapping out the social internet around the globe. Using fresh data from the Trendstream Global Web Index – a recurring survey of more than 50,000 users of social platforms in 18 markets.

Basically the article outlines how different countries or clusters of countries and in some way continents uses the social internet differently or more than others, it gives an idea of which countries or part of the world is the most ‘developed’ in the use of the social internet.

It’s not a big surprise that the western world and a country like Japan have a very high portion of total inhabitants that are using the internet compared to the more developing countries like India, Brazil and China, however – when you look at how they use the social internet it’s striking that these last mentioned countries seem to be in the lead.

The Social internet

Basically the analysis looks into two main ways of using the social internet:
• Portion of internet users who manage a social-network profile
• Portion of internet users who write blogs

Then it breaks down some specific uses, like portion of internet users who have:
• Uploaded photos online
• Uploaded videos online
• Used a microblogging service (Twitter or similar services)

Broadcasting – portion of internet users who write blogs

Large European countries like Germany, France and the Netherlands are the least developed when it comes to writing blogs – only 3%-6% of the internet users write blogs.

Countries like the US, UK and Australia, we get a little bit closer to 10% but topping the list is Asia when it comes to blogging – more than 40% of internet users in India blog, and more than 45% of internet users in China. According to the article, blogging is a vehicle for keeping in touch with family and friends and probably not seen as much as a broadcasting tool like we do in the western world.

Managing a social-network profile

When it comes to the issue of managing a social-network profile among the users of the internet, people in countries like Japan, South Korea and surprisingly Germany are all in the lower quartile – in these countries, it’s only between 15-25% of the internet users that are managing a social network.

The way to the heavy users of social network we see countries like France (33%), Italy and the Netherlands (39%), Australia, Spain and China (42-44%), the UK, Russia and the US (50-54%) and the heavy users of social networks among internet users are India and Brazil with a whooping 63-65%.

In general when it comes to upload of pictures, video or using a microblogging service the article clearly shows and probably to no surprise, that the more the users are active on especially social network, the more they share content.

All in all the BRIC countries seem to be taking the lead when it comes in general to the use of the social web. On a minor note it is of course worth mentioning that the BRIC countries are the countries with the lowest penetration of the internet among the total population, which to me indicates that the BRIC countries will only grow stronger in the use of the social web as the internet gets higher penetration in these countries – the new internet users will be natural born inhabitants on the social web.

mapping the social internet

Click to view large image

Source: Harvard Business Review, 88, 7/8, July-August 2010, issue.

Analysis by Mikolaj Jan Piskorski and visualization by Tommy McCall


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