France has the fourth largest number of internet users of any country in Europe (52.2 million), and ranks tenth for the number of internet users globally. Internet penetration was 79.6% in June 2012, whereas Germany had 83%, and Iceland had 97% penetration. According to Intel, 39% of French adults are more comfortable sharing online than in person.
According to comScore, French Internet users spent an average of 27.7 hours online during the month of June 2012 (way behind the UK at 37.3 hours, but ahead of the European average at 25.9). comScore’s analysis also revealed that France had the third highest number of unique visitors during that month (43,214,000), just behind Russia and Germany.
- The average time spent per French visitor on social networks is 247.4 minutes a month
- Facebook is the most popular social network in France
- France has the third highest number of Facebook users in Europe
- France generally has low levels of involvement with social media
- Skyrock is the second most popular social network site in the country
- 95% of French companies don’t use social networks
Top 10 social network sites among internet users in France, ranked by unique visitors, December 2012:
1. Facebook: 34.3 million
2. Skyrock: 8.6 million
3. Twitter: 5.6 million
4. LinkedIn: 4.4 million
5. Viadeo: 3.7 million
6. Trombi: 3.6 million
7. Tumblr: 2.6 million
8. Copains d’Avant: 2/6 million
9. Badoo: 2.5 million
10. Nomao: 2.0 million
Click the tab below to read more about France’s Social Media.
Facebook is the second most popular website in France, behind google.fr. More than 25 million French people use Facebook, ranking France third in Europe in terms of Facebook users (just behind the UK and Turkey), and ninth in the world. In September 2011, Facebook accounted for 90 per cent of time spent on social networks in France.
The most popular Facebook pages in France are the soft drink brand Coca-Cola, French short comedy TV series Le SAV d’Omar et Fred and US TV series House. Facebook itself comes in at the sixth place. Coca-Cola is also the top Facebook brand in the world, with more than 67,000,000 fans.
Among French Facebook users, 51.5% are female, and the most represented age group is 25-34 (26.2%).
According to Alexa, Twitter is the 27th most visited website in France. Its number of users has also gone up by 50% between 2011 and 2012, which represents a significant growth on the French social media market. According to comScore, in November 2012, the number of French visitors aged over 55 doubled compared to the previous year, becoming the largest segment of the total French Twitter audience. The second largest audience was 15-24 year olds (+62%).
The most followed Twitter accounts in France are French DJ David Guetta, French singer Terry Brival and French radio station NRJ.
YouTube vs. Dailymotion
In March 2013, the top 3 video sites in France were Google-owned sites (mainly YouTube), Dailymotion and VEVO (which experienced over 22% growth since 2012). YouTube is the third most popular website in France, just behind Facebook. In September 2011, males accounted for 70 per cent of time spent watching online videos in France.
The three most viewed channels on YouTube in France are the VEVO account of French DJ David Guetta, French humourist and YouTuber Rémi Gaillard and another channel dedicated to David Guetta.
Dailymotion is a French video-sharing website that allows users to upload, share and watch videos. Despite YouTube’s lead, Dailymotion has experienced a major growth worldwide, even though its audience remains relatively small compared to Google’s video-sharing website.
In May 2013, Yahoo abandoned plans to acquire a majority stake in Dailymotion after French government objections. Dailymotion is the 26th most visited website in France.
LinkedIn vs. Viadeo
Viadeo is a professional social network that was founded in France in 2004. Among its 50 million members across the world in 2013, 7 million are French. Like most professional social networks, Viadeo lets members create and manage their own professional profile, maintain a list of business partners allowing them to stay in touch, to find jobs or advertise job opportunities.
59% of Viadeo’s members are male. 43% of its users are aged 25-34. 49% of members use the website in order to develop their professional networks, while 11% have subscribed to strengthen the relationships with their bosses. The most represented industry sector among users is Consulting and Services (19%). Agribusiness and Agriculture is the least popular (3%). Viadeo is currently the 93rd most visited site in France.
LinkedIn is France’s 49th most visited website. In November 2012, it managed to overtake Viadeo’s audience in France for the first time. With 225 million registered members across the world, among which 5 million are French, LinkedIn has become the second most visited French recruitment website after “Pôle Emploi”, the French governmental employment agency.
While Viadeo is still the market leader in France in terms of number of registered users (7 million against 5 million for LinkedIn), LinkedIn has recently beaten its main competitor in terms of number of visitors (4 million against 3.7 million for Viadeo in November 2012).
Google+ has almost 2.8 million French users (accounting for 7% of French internet users). France is now ranked 11th in the world in terms of the number of Google+ users.
Between 2011 and 2012, Google+ has experienced the greatest growth in awareness among social networks in France (+15 points). Between August 2012 and May 2013, the number of Google+ subscribers went up by 33% (the most significant growth for any social network apart from Twitter).
Other French networks (Skyrock, Trombi, Copains d’Avant)
Skyblog.com was launched in 2002 as a French blogging site aimed at teenagers. In 2007, it became Skyrock.com, a social networking site that allows its users to create blogs and profiles, add friends and exchange messages with other members. In 2008, Skyrock.com was ranked as the world’s seventh largest social network by comScore, with 21 million visitors worldwide during the month of June of that year alone.
Although less popular today than it used to be a decade ago, Skyrock still accounts for more than 30 million blogs as well as nearly 24 million profiles in several languages. It is currently the 36th most visited website in France.
Copains d’Avant and Trombi both help members in France keep in touch with friends from school and college.
Launched in 2001, Copains d’Avant had 10 million members in 2008 and was France’s first social network website. However, Facebook and its 17 million users overtook Copains d’Avant in 2010. Linternaute.com, which owns Copains d’Avant, is currently the 52nd most visited website in France. It counts 13 million members and hosts 2.5 million class photos. According to IFOP, in 2010, 65% of French Facebook users had an account on Copains d’Avant.
Trombi was launched in 2000 and has almost 11,800,000 members with nearly 250,000 class photos published. In comparison to other social networks, Trombi attracts an older audience. 44% of Trombi’s members are aged 35-49. In 2010 19% of French internet users were Trombi members.
In June 2013, Pinterest launched its first non-English site, in French, in order to target the French population and increase its awareness across the country. The American social network believes that the French community is very active on subjects such as fashion and food, and thus might have an interest in pinning related pictures online.
The most popular Facebook brand pages in France belong to American soft drink brand Coca-Cola (3,170,790 fans), fruit drink Oasis Be Fruit (2,571,672 fans) and chocolate spread Nutella (2,304,340 fans).
By placing a link from its website which allowed its clients to share their bookings on Facebook, Voyages-SNCF, a leading French Internet travel agency, has noted that 1 in 6 shares led to a sale.
The three most followed brand accounts on Twitter in France are French luxury fashion house Saint Laurent (1,289,059 followers), French Airline company Air France (222,145 followers) and the French charity Les Restos Du Coeur (172,250 followers).
The most viewed brand channels on YouTube in France are the French channel of entertainment company Warner Bros. (87,004,708 video views), French channel of gaming giant Electronic Arts (52,539,659 video views) and the French independent record label Naïve (44,764,564 video views).
Tipp-Ex, owned by French Société Bic, launched one of the best examples of a successful YouTube campaign in 2010 and 2012. In the 2010, the Tipp-Experience campaign, “the Hunter & the Bear” proposed viewers to rewrite the story of the online video. The campaign went viral globally including in France, which wasn’t even one of the target markets. Sales increased in the country (+30% in Q4 2010), and the video “A hunter shoots a bear” rapidly generated more than 50 million views worldwide. In 2012, in order to boost sales in France, Italy, Germany and the UK, Tipp-Experience 2 gave internet users the power to rewrite history, a campaign that was also hugely successful.
According to Publicis Consultants Net Intelligenz, the three most followed French companies on LinkedIn in 2012 were global telecommunications equipment company Alcatel-Lucent (129,000 followers), business consulting and outsourcing services firm Capgemini (107,000 followers) and the cosmetics brand L’Oréal (98,000 followers).
Language and Culture
- French is the official language in France and 28 other countries
- French is the 8th most used language on the Internet
- Formality, hierarchy and aloofness are very important in French business culture
It is estimated that 86% of the population in France speaks French as their primary language. German dialects account for 2.1% of the languages spoken in France. Arabic is spoken by nearly 2% of inhabitants, followed by Occitan languages (1.3%), Portuguese (1.3%), Italian (1.2%), and Spanish (1.1%). Other languages include Creole, mainly spoken in overseas territories, as well as other French regional dialects such as Breton or Catalan.
Like in several other languages, the T-V distinction in French is rigid. “Tu”, the informal version of “you”, is normally used for family and friends, or new acquaintances that have something socially significant in common (e.g., same age, same level in some hierarchy). However, these “tu-forms” seem to be taking over on social media, to the detriment of the formal “vous”.
According to some digital experts, the internet has broked down social barriers and placed everyone on an equal footing. Moreover, especially on Twitter, given that tweets cannot exceed 140 characters and that sentences using “tu” are usually shorter, “tu-forms” seem to be used even more. Nevertheless, some others claim that this change poses a threat to social hierarchy and respect.
France is the only country to have an “Académie”, an organisation whose aim is to protect and update the French language. Particularly in the last decade, this body has tried to prevent the Anglicization of the French language.
According to the French Institut Montaigne, in 2004, the ethnic composition of France was around 85% white-European, 10% North African, 3.5% Black African or Caribbean and 1.5% Asian.
Administrative procedures and bureaucracy are sometimes considered more important than efficiency and flexibility. Therefore, the French workplace is highly organised. Large companies usually have a strong hierarchical structure where respect for authority is essential and CEOs generally don’t have relationships with subordinates.
France has one of the strictest privacy laws in Europe. In 2010, faced with the rapid growth of social networks and the internet, the French Senate passed a law with the aim to strengthen the privacy of internet users.
As a result, in September 2012 when a French tabloid reported that private messages were appearing publicly on Facebook users’ timelines, it caused an outcry. When asked about the issue by the French privacy watchdog, Facebook France officials denied the claims and stated that there had been “no invasion of users’ privacy”. However, despite Facebook’s denials, many people continued to report the issue, unconvinced by Facebook’s denials.
L’exception culturelle (cultural exception) was developed a few decades ago in France and still has broad support across the country. The government’s aim is to defend and favour national arts (especially music, films and the internet) to fight against Americanization, considered as a threat to cultural diversity. This concept has often been criticised and compared to chauvinism and a feeling of superiority to other cultures. However, the government asserts that it enables the opportunity for France to support creators and producers and to promote cultural diversity.
French family values are extremely important, and each member has well-defined responsibilities and duties. The French are private people and tend to behave differently with people who belong to their close circle and those who do not. First names are generally only used with close friends and family.
French people are very proud of their language and culture. Food is a vital part of their culture, and enjoying good cuisine with French wine is always highly appreciated. Some of the largest influences on French culture include art, architecture, fashion and a passion for football, the most popular sport in France.