How strong is the presence of Social Media in the Czech Republic?
The social media market in Central/Eastern Europe has been growing throughout the years and is expected to increase by 7% between 2014 and 2017 (Statista). With millions of active user online consumers in the Czech Republic, which social networks and brands resonate the most with the users of this country?
Leading the country as the most popular social network medium with 3.8 million users in 2012 is Facebook. The most liked page on Facebook for Czechs is surprisingly, The Simpsons followed by YouTube (Socialbakers). American Actor Vin Diesel
Photo courtesy of Statista
is also among the top ten most liked pages due to the popularity of his movie XXX which was shot in Prague. However, Czech Republic pages such as Jarosmir Jagr, a famous Czech ice hockey player, and YOU.BO, a Czech equivalent of America’s YouTube, dominate the rest of the list. The lack of presence America brands have in the Czech Republic shows that one of the reasons that the country’s slow growth towards social networking services (SNS) could be attributed to its loyalty to national brands.
In addition, the country itself offers “many popular local social media networks in the Czech Republic, the largest of which is called ‘Seznam’. Having started as a search engine, Seznam now offers everything from a business directory service to a dating site to chat room and e-commerce” (Business Culture). After doing a separate case study on the competition between Kofola and Coca-Cola, I found that nationalism is highly important for the citizens of Czech Republic. Their history with communism has influenced the country’s citizens to be loyal to their identity and in turn, to national brands and companies. Therefore, the competition between Western SNSs, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and Czech businesses could impede the overall growth of the country’s SNSs market.
Another dominant social media network in the Czech Republic is LinkedIn. Because “LinkedIn is currently available in four East European languages” and Czech is one of them, the medium has a strong presence in the Czech Republic (eModeration). Recruiter specialist Erik Heidefors states that even though LinkedIn has a few local competitors, it is “by far the most popular” due to the website’s “straightforward connection to businesses” and its “head start” in the career market (Expats.cz). Heidefors also believes that networking sites are imperative for success in recruitment and that social media usage will continue to grow throughout the years.
Although the social media activity of Czechs is comparably low to that of Americans, the reasons behind both parties’ taking part in SNSs are similar. In a study conducted by the University of Economics in Prague, researchers investigated the motives behind the decision of users to engage with social media.
“All three reasons mentioned above are actually very similar. All of them are primarily focused on maintaining and developing existing “offline” social relationships. This finding is consistent with the US studies (Lampe et al., 2006 or Joinson, 2008). We therefore supported the finding of these studies that satisfying social needs within existing social structures is the main motive for SNS participation” (Management Marketing).
Photo courtesy of Management Marketing
The explanations to why Czechs’ usage of SNSs is similar to Danah Boyd’s notion that interaction play an important role in the success of SNSs and that the online communities are created predominantly for connecting with family and friends. Researchers also found that SNS activity is much higher in villages and small towns are opposed to metropolitan cities. The statistics mirror our class’ discussion that activity is greater in small towns due to the citizens’ hopes of wanting to connect to a larger community that is not available due to their geographic limitations. However, as Baym believes, SNSs’ transcends time and distance, which in turn blurs physical barriers.
As the SNS market continues to progress in the Czech Republic, it will be interesting to see whether Facebook could be replaced by another medium and which networks, be it international or national, will be able to successfully enter the highly competitive industry.
Featured image courtesy of smemon