What’s on your mind? Everyday I am asked this question, not by my friends and family, but by Facebook. A simple status update cannot only broadcast to 1,000 friends what you’re up to today, but can also attract potential customers for profit seeking businesses. According to an article by the Prague Post published last year, the Czech Republic has really woken up to social media, particularly small businesses. Maybe not as extensively as say the United States has with the explosion of Twitter and other social networking sites, but Czechs have taken to using Facebook in particular to increase their online presence.
While Facebook has lost more than 11 million users in the past six months, social networking sites like Facebook are still extremely popular in the in Czech Republic. Are Czechs just behind the popularity curve as they seem to be in fashion, or are they realizing something that the rest of the world isn’t? In fact, the Czech Republic has proven to have more involvement on Facebook than most Central and Eastern European countries, with about 35% of citizens in 2012 using Facebook. More than 3.6 million Czechs are signed up for the site as of May 2012, handing over their personal information and abandoning their normally private lives.
Not only have citizens decided to engage in online relationships via social networks, but companies and businesses are realizing how adventageous Facebook can be for marketing in a clever way. Now, smaller businesses that might not get much commercial advertising space can broadcast their messages and products to larger audiences in a very inexpensive way. Today, as I scroll through my Newsfeed I am not only catching up on what friends and family are doing, I’m also paying attention to what my favorite brands, stores, or restaurants are offering. I don’t want to miss out on a sale or a special event I could benefit from. For example, Prague’s new vegan cafe that opened last month in Vinohrady, Moment, has utilized Facebook to attract customers (see photo) in a city where vegan food is not widely popular. As Maciej Wyszynski, an online marketing expert in Poland says, “If you run a local restaurant and have a daily lunch menu, you can easily share this information. It’s the right application to use. It’s free”.
But even though Facebook proves to be successful in promoting small businesses through individual pages, it is still unclear if paid advertisements are proving effective. “It’s not really measurable. You cannot be specific with the value of social media advertising. Coupon-type websites, products that aren’t boring like bank accounts, they are the ones that mostly advertise on Facebook”. Czech businesses prefer to use Facebook to create value by making fan pages, playing to people’s emotions.
However, Twitter might be the key that the Czech Republic needs to really compete with other international brands. With Twitter, users can create “ledes”, short, concise, and to the point messages, to generate more online traffic to say their Facebook page or an individual website. In addition, several separate applications such as “twtQpon” that helps create online coupons for your business on Twitter or “TwitHawk“, which targets people in a particular area who tweet about a specific word, can be used to monitor and keep track of social media marketing activities.
In a country like the Czech Republic that seems to be continually trying to keep up with international trends and competition, social networks make it much easier to cater to larger audiences and build a bigger, more loyal client base.