Social media is on the incline the the Czech Republic! Find out what sites are and are not popular and why!
Image courtesy of Flickr user Rosaura Ochoa
“What’s your Facebook name”, asked Ondra, a native Czech studying at Charles University in Prague, while simultaneously taking out his smartphone. Admittedly, I was initially surprised by Ondra’s inquiry of my information on the popular social networking site–coming from thousands of miles away, it was hard for me to believe that myself and my new friend would have anything in common, including a social media platform like Facebook. It was only after we exchanged information and “friend requests” on the site that I began to take a deeper interest in social media usage, it’s penetration in not only Central Europe and in the Czech Republic, while also looking at the technological factors that play into social media use here.
In the Business Culture article, “Social Media Guide for the Czech Republic“, one is introduced to what social medias are used in the Czech Republic and how they are being used. According to the article, in June 2012, “the total number of internet users in the Czech Republic was at 7,426,376, which is about 73.0% of the population” (BusinessCulture) . By November 2012, the number of registered Facebook users was at 3,805,480, –or about 37.30% of the population (BusinessCulture). The article also makes note of less popular social media sites that have not had a strong presence in the country thus far, such as Twitter, however, the “overall usage seems to be trending upwards” (BusinessCulture). So what does this mean when we look at more up to date picture of usage in the Czech Republic as it is compared to the rest of Central Europe?
Image courtesy of Flickr user Alan Reeves
According to Simon Kemp’s article, “Social, Digital & Mobile in Europe in 2014“, the total population of Central Europe is pinned at 167,844,786, with 130,119,800 active Internet users, and 60,412,000 as Facebook users (Kemp). Out of those users, 4.2 million are currently from the Czech Republic and the Czech Republic has the 17th highest internet penetration in all of Europe with 75% of its users online, right behind Ireland. Focusing more closely on the Czech Republic in 2014, the current number of users online is at 7,632,975 with 4.2 million active Facebook users in a population of 10,162,921 people (WeAreSocial). While Facebook is very popular in the Czech Republic, there are other local social networking sites that are also used widely in the country. For example, Seznam.cz, is a popular “web portal and search engine founded in1996 by Ivo Lukačovič in Prague and was the first web portal in the Czech Republic. Seznam started with a search engine and an internet version of yellow pages”, and is now also used as a form of social media (Wikipedia).
Often when we think of how we use social media in today’s society, many people think of their smartphones–a way to interact socially at any and all hours of the day. For the Czech Republic however, in my time here, I have noticed that many people do not have smartphones. After speaking with Czech students at a local Czech high school, an 18 year old girl explained to me that smartphones “are too expensive, especially the iPhone”, thus they use more basic technology as their mobile devices. While looking at the overall smartphone usage in the Czech Republic as of February 2014, we come to learn that about 42% of the country’s overall population uses a smartphone and that 2.4 million of those smartphone users access social media on their mobile devices (WeAreSocial). In Paul Ratner’s Expats article, “How Tech is an Average Czech?“, he explains that “the main use Czechs get out of their smartphones is emailing and browsing the net, then catching up on social networks”, while he also explains that video chatting via phones hasn’t arrived yet (Expats).
Image courtesy of Flickr user Jason Howie
After analyzing the many statistics of social media in Europe and Central Europe and specifically in the Czech Republic, it is clear to see that the Czech Republic is on the incline when it comes to using the internet and social media networks. However, when looking at technology such as smartphones as an important factor, I can come to conclude that perhaps the fact that many Czech natives do not use smartphones directly correlates to the lack of other social networking site usage such as Twitter. I say this because for many, we update our Twitters while we are on the go throughout the day and not simply from behind a computer desk at home.
While new forms of social media are introduced, it seems that Europeans will continue to gain access and join social networking sites in the same way that people, just like myself, do. Social media use in the Czech Republic is on the incline alongside many countries in Europe, and while technology may be a factor in holding users back, the Czech people continue to push for the new social media’s that have gained popularity in surrounding countries–and how lucky I feel to have platform where I can remain in touch with so many people I have met while studying abroad!