Magaly Losange is a graduate of SapientNitro’s Fall 2011 Marketing and Strategy Internship program. In this blog, she shares how “thinking global, acting local” motto is a must for marketers targeting France:
Follow me @WeNeedMoreThan140CharactersToTalk
As a French citizen who has traveled and lived in different countries, I can explain the specificities of French culture. Call us chauvinistic or reactionary, but we can be very proud of our Latin cultural patrimony and our way of life. Most of us believe that we own the art of being social. Throughout my exploration of the world, I myself often felt homesick, missing the long hours spent at coffee shops with friends, the extended dinners where hearty meals and long discussions are almost compulsory, or the stupendous encounters that are likely to happen on the crowded streets of Paris. France was, for me, one of the few places where the ideas of community and interactions are still alive.
However, at a time when being social also means social networking, I recognize how far behind we are. I know that stereotypes and generalizations are not without danger. But now that I live in Atlanta, and have become addicted to “RT”, “Share”, “Foursquare check-in” and “Like,” I enjoy looking at how French people interact online. The fact is that Facebook and Twitter are not that popular in France — at least amongst the 25 and over demographic. The behavior of users is also quite different — stronger concerns about privacy issues limit chatter.
The success of two French social networks, “Skyrock Blog” and “OverBlog” (10 million visitors), shows that there might be a double standard… But besides being French, these networks tried to develop an original formula to be different.
Let’s look at Skyrock Blog for instance: the network which was created by a traditional media company, “Skyrock,” which is the most popular French radio station among the 13- to 24-year olds. The promotion of the network, launched in 2002, was probably boosted by this legitimacy, along with additional services like Skymail and dating, the option to pick one of the 24 skins to customize the blog or the one that allows the user to reverse the order of his posts. Most French users also claim that Skyrock Blog is far more intuitive and easy to use than the other networks.
Now, let’s try to understand again why Twitter and Facebook are not doing that well. I think that the main explanation to this gap would be the linguistic barriers. I remembered that a lot of my friends finally opened a Facebook account when the platform decided to create a French version. Twitter also presents challenges for a language that is known for expansion — it is hard for us to combine ideas in less than 140 words. This platform might be more convenient for English which is known for being a concise language. Similarly, the concepts of smileys, teasers, hot trends, friendly stranger might be harder to export. Interestingly, despite the lack of passion for the two networks, French regulators passed a new law in June 2011, forbidding the use of the words “Twitter” and “Facebook” on TV and radio in order to prevent “clandestine advertising”.
Because of all these barriers to entry, the “think global, act local” motto is a must for marketers targeting France. Here are three tips for those who want to cross the Atlantic:
Tip 1: Simplicity! At the end of the day, French want to keep some time for face-to-face social interactions. An easy friendly tool will amaze them more than a high-tech platform full of fancy acronyms.
Tip 2: Freedom! French people like content and modularity. It takes longer to say things in French and people want to feel that they have enough space and flexibility to express themselves.
Tip 3 : Legitimacy! Working with a local brand or sounding a little French might give you some credit.
What? You think it sounds a bit revolutionary? Well it’s French!
|About the Author
European (born in Paris) and Caribbean at the same time (both her parents are from Guadeloupe), Magaly Losange had always been passionate about global encounters, cross-cultural contacts and internationalization in general. Thanks to her extensive travels and an education in different countries, she decided to focus on international marketing. After having worked as a marketing specialist in different countries, she completed her MBA at Kennesaw State University and settled down in Atlanta.