Take these figures with a little pinch of salt for they’re not actually site usage in the different areas of the world, rather they are the platforms that people use to share content in the different parts of the world. But I think there’s something rather interesting about them, how people are using different platforms in those different places. I’ve got (as suppositions, not fact) good answers as to why the LinkedIn and Pinterest differences but am not sure at all about the Facebook and Twitter ones.
The chart is here:
I’m afraid that I have no coherent explanation why the numbers for Twitter and Facebook vary as they do. They rather surprise me about Europe in fact, I would have thought that Facebook penetration over here was much higher than that of Twitter. Mixi and Vkontakte are of course region (and to an extent, language) specific so there’s no surprise about the differences there.
The two that I think I do have an idea about are the surprising popularity of LinkedIn in the Middle East and that massive difference in the US for Pinterest.
On the Middle East the thing to remember is that it’s actually, by US or European standards, a rather poor area. It simply isn’t true that everyone will have internet access for example. Those who do will be concentrated in the professional middle classes. Yes, I know that’s broad brush and doesn’t apply to some places like Israel but the majority of the Middle East really is quite poor by our standards. And LinkedIn is really rather aimed at the interests of those professional middle classes: job related, career related networking. Yes, this is indeed a supposition but one that I think is reasonably supportable.
The other is that vast difference in Pinterest usage between the US and everywhere else. Part of this is of course that it’s relatively new, the US usually adopts these new things faster than all of us stick in the mud foreigners. So there is that to it. But again, as a supposition, I think there’s more to it than that. Pinterest is really a digital method of doing “scrapbooking”. Or what we in archaic English English call a “commonplace book”. And it is archaic English, from perhaps the turn of the 19th century, because it’s not a practice we associate with the modern world. I was rather surprised, the last time I lived in the US (late 90s, and yes, 1990s, I’m not that old) to find that scrapbooking was a thriving, if minority, sport.
Which leads me to the thought that one reason for Pinterest’s outsized usage in the US is that it’s a digital method of doing something that people were already doing, that scrapbooking, while it’s not taken off elsewhere so much simply because we haven’t really indulged in the pastime for some decades, if not a century.
Yes, I agree, all of this is very much a generalisation but I do think that the points about both LinkedIn and Pinterest will stand up to scrutiny. We see more LinkedIn activity where it’s the professional middles classes, the site’s main targets, are more of the internet connected population. We see more Pinterest activity in the US as a result of the continued popularity of scrapbooking, or as I would call it, creating a commonplace book.