Social networks in France and the U.S.

Promise, promise, the video blogs will be back in February, but in the meantime…

Never have I ever imagined a salon where no one knew the wifi password. Such was the case this past Tuesday and Wednesday at the E-Marketing Salon in Paris where — after an hour — I finally discovered the wifi was reserved for bloggers. Good thing I blog. (FYI don’t despair this isn’t a whiny “miaaaaa I didnt get what I wanted” post — though there was a moment i started to get twitchy, geek style) but just a reflection on the adoption of social networks in France and their usages.

This week I happened to fall upon a video by Olivier Blanchard aka the Brandbuilder, about the differences between the U.S. And France in their adoption and use of social media which hit home this week at the salon.

I couldn’t help notice then, for example…

They use real paper here to take notes

I’ll admit I haven’t been to many conferences in the U.S., but I felt a shock of reality seeing all of the “marketers” taking notes during conference sessions. With the lack of wifi (and not many people seeming to care besides a few of us Twitter addicts), people really listened to the sessions. On one hand I was glad to see so many people diligently paying attention and absorbing what was being said, but on the other hand I have to admit I’m all for sharing information (obviously) and getting opinions from others that can’t be or just aren’t there physically. Why should you have to be in the conference hall to participate in the conversation?

Even to bring the information learned back into your own company to share internally, it made me think of something Trey tweeted last week from another conference : “if you’re writing it on paper it’s less efficient.” It’s less shareable, sendable, editable, printable, etcerable.

And speaking of conversations…

A “Tweet cafe” displayed most prominently the tweets

or should I say, a screen in the back of the hall on the top floor was the only place that you could see a live Twitter stream with the hashtag #fem2011. (Thanks, Fabrice, for posing 😉 )

While I appreciated the effort to unite everyone there that was tweeting and blogging in a comfy little corner, why were these conversations seemingly delegated to the back corner? It’s almost as if

“Internet users” are “thoooose people” that no one really seems to understand

When I first arrived in France, I have to say I found it a bit funny to see so many blogs and posts about “what is social media?” (although let’s face it they’re in the U.S., too 😉 ), and “who are these people that tweet?” as if they were aliens from another planet…

When I finally realized what was going on, it was so clear to me why I didn’t understand where this term “Internet user” came from. It’s something I suppose I’ve insisted on just by the fact of having a blog, using Twitter, etc etc : we’re people just like you, dude. We just share with a whole heck of a lot more people. I’m sure it comes with adoption rates of social technology like Olivier said, and adapting them to your own culture and uses. It seems as though any company in France (or elsewhere) can stand to benefit, though, from first realizing that “Internet users” is just a bizarre term for…people…writing online.

All you have to do is look at the recent news from Egypt to see how far and quickly info can spread…

I loved, actually, when my boss answered a question after his conference on Tuesday by saying, “the community managers at Orange use Synthesio to answer people on the web, but they’re still answering as if they were calling in to customer service. They were just trained to write.”

I’m not a web strategist, so I won’t even attempt to offer strategical advice, just some human advice : your customers are people, online or not. When I see a message online, beit a blog post, a tweet, a Facebook comment, a forum thread, etc. I pretend that that person is right in front of me, because they are in a way.

Don’t you?

Looking forward to your thoughts 🙂

3 responses to “Social networks in France and the U.S.

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Social networks in France and the U.S. | The Observing Participant --

  2. Je dois pas être française puisque je prenais des notes sur mon pc!

    • Non non rien voir! 🙂 J’ai pas du tout voulu dire que les franais sont pas dans la mme dmarche que les amricains — surtout toi 😀 — mais que c’est diffrent. C’est sr qu’il y avait des gens qui twittaient et qui prenaient des notes sur PC/Mac, mais je veux dire qu’en termes de proportion a m’a choqu 🙂

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