Social Media in Different Cultures

Social media usage is a global phenomenon. New users are joining social media networks at an amazing rate. There’s an estimated 65.9% cell phone penetration rate globally which creates room for social media to be a big deal around the globe. Interestingly, across the globe we use social media the same AND differently. Of course, the cell phone is a prominent source of communication among all people, but besides that, the phone’s usage and the use of social media can vary a lot!

Culture to culture, we are using cell phones and social media differently. For example, in recently visiting Nigeria, it’s the norm to confirm a job interview via text message, which is not something we in the States are accustomed to. In the same respect, when scheduling an appointment with Embassies in Nigeria, it is traditional to receive your confirmation again via text. This is worth pointing out because in the United States, more formal inquiries like job interviews or appointments at a government agency traditionally correspond through email or physical mail.  Thinking of playing the lottery soon? In Nigeria, you don’t need to go to the local gas station or big box store with your cash to buy your ticket—you can play via your cell phone. That’s just one other example of the many ways people use cell phones differently (for work or play) in other countries.

There are so many opportunities to learn how other cultures use social media and technology to accomplish their goals. This provides a ‘melting pot’ of ideas at your fingertips. The question however is  “how do I learn what other cultures are doing to enhance their social media?”

Here are 2 main tips!

Networking. Networking with people from different backgrounds and cultures can be very informative and eye opening! Asking them questions about their business and practices is a great way to learn about how other business are using smart strategies. The key is to ask questions and most importantly listen to the responses. When learning about other cultures, you should ask the right questions, do less talking and way more listening. You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn.

Travelling. Cultural differences are not just found country-to-country, continent-to-continent or state to state. They can also be found city to city! Residents of the small town of Pekin, IL will most likely view and engage with social media differently than residents of a larger city like Chicago. Taking a trip to Pekin to learn more about their social media practices may seem silly if you’re from Chicago, but you’d be surprised. Smaller communities tend to figure out how to utilize social media more quickly than larger ones. Looking at what the smaller communities are doing may introduce you to avenues you weren’t covering before regarding your social media and business in general. The same can be said about small companies and their culture versus larger companies. By looking into what the smaller companies are doing, you may be able to cherry pick the best ideas and utilize them for your company!

My recent trip to Nigeria lead me to a gentleman with an auto body shop who recounted how he had paid a prominent comedian to do a show at his shop and recorded it to post on his social media accounts. This one act lead to great exposure for his business, which actually saved him from going out of business.  He thought outside the box and it paid off!

If you take away only one thing, it should be this: that knowing about how other cities, countries continents and cultures use social media can be empowering. Knowing how others use technology can help you create exciting innovative social media, marketing, or business strategies to use for your business. So, next time you see an out of state/country/continent networking event, consider going—it never hurts to learn more about how the people and businesses outside of your bubble are utilizing social media and technology to accomplish their dreams by accomplishing their goals.