France has the fourth largest number of internet users of any country in Europe (56.4 million), and ranks 17th for the number of internet users globally. Internet penetration was 86.8 % in June 2017, whereas Germany had 89.6 %, and Iceland had 100 % penetration. According to Intel, in 2012 39 % of French adults are more comfortable sharing online than in person. In addition, adults are 47 % as likely to share as frequently online as teens.
According to The World Bank, French Internet users spent an average of 4.6 hours per day online in 2016 (way behind the UK at 5.4 and the US average of 6.2 hours). The overall number of social network users in France was around 33 million monthly active users.
- The average time spent per French visitor on social networks is 247 minutes a month
- Facebook is the most popular social network in France
- France has the third highest number of Facebook users in Europe, after Turkey and the UK
- 95 % of French companies don’t use social networks, but that number is decreasing as more and more Internet users in France join social networks and social media becomes a more useful way to reach consumers
Top 9 social network sites among internet users in France, ranked by penetration, 2016:
1. Facebook: 67 %
2. Youtube: 67 %
3. Twitter: 24 %
4. Instagram: 22 %
5. Google Plus: 20 %
6. Copains d’Avant: 19.6 %
6. Pinterest: 17 %
7. LinkedIn: 16 %
8. Viadeo: 9 %
Facebook is the fourth most popular website in France, behind Google.com. More than 33 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 June 2017, 51 % of the population and 59 % of French Internet users had a Facebook account.
The most popular Facebook pages as of November of 2017 France are: French DJ David Guetta (53,810,903 fans); professional football club PSG – Paris Saint-Germain (28,398,317 fans); and footballer for Real Madrid and the French national team, Karim Benzema (23,128,887 fans).
Among French Facebook users, 51.5 % are female, and the most active age group as of 2016 is 15-24 (75.4 % of these users visit Facebook every day or nearly every day). However, Facebook in France is used in increasing numbers by older generations.
According to Alexa, Twitter is the 11th most visited website in France. France also has the fifth largest user base on Twitter in the world, and accounts for about 3.4 % of the Twitter population. However, French usage of Twitter has decreased slightly from 2016 to 2017, with 12.3 % of respondents saying they ‘regularly’ use Twitter in 2016, a number which reduced to 11.6 % in 2017.
The most followed Twitter accounts in France as of November of 2017 are: French DJ David Guetta (22,018,421 followers), French comedian and vlogger Cyprien (7,797,138 followers); and French stand-up comedian GAD (7,653,111 followers).
YouTube and Dailymotion
In 2017, YouTube had very little competition from other video sites in France. However, despite the fact that France-based video streaming site Dailymotion was not among the top 50 most visited sites in 2017, the daily traffic to the site remains high. In September of 2017, there were approximately 362 million monthly visits to the site; about 11 % of that traffic came from France.
YouTube is the most popular video platform in France, and is the second most visited website in the country after Google.fr. As of November 2017, the three most popular YouTube channels are: French DJ David Guetta (8,836,079,108 video views and 14,900,992 subscribers); French YouTuber and internet personality SQUEEZIE (4,095,160,146 video views and 9,091,437 subscribers); and French rapper and singer, MaitreGims(2,159,422,459 video views and 3,814,232 subscribers).
LinkedIn and Viadeo
Viadeo is a professional social network that was founded in France in 2004. Among its 65 million members across the world in 2015, 10 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, and to advertise job opportunities.
Viadeo has garnered a smaller audience than its counterpart LinkedIn, and in September of 2017 the platform had about 8.2 million monthly visitors, 69 % of which came from France. Viadeo says it hopes to focus primarily on its home market of France as well as other French-speaking countries, and has withdrawn its services from some countries in order to focus its efforts there.
LinkedIn is the preferred professional networking site in France, and is the 12th most visited site in the country as of November 2017. 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 11 million of which are French, LinkedIn has become the most visited French recruitment website.
While Viadeo and LinkedIn remain roughly the same in terms of number of registered users in France, LinkedIn has beaten its main competitor for the last five years in terms of number of visitors.
Google+ has over 12 million French users (accounting for 21.6 % of French internet users). France is now ranked 11th in the world in terms of the number of Google+ users. However, only about 11.6 % of French internet users say they regularly and actively use the platform.
Other French networks (Skyrock, Copains d’Avant, and French-language Pinterest)
Blogging platforms such as Skyrock.com – a social networking site akin to MySpace that allows users to create blogs and profiles, add friends, and exchange messages with other members – were popular around a decade ago among French users, but have since decreased in popularity.
Copains d’Avant is a social network that helps members in France keep in touch with friends from school and college. Launched in 2001, Copains d’Avant was France’s first social network website. It began charging for its service in 2004, but realised its mistake when many of its users began switching to Facebook. It returned to its free service in 2007. However, Facebook and its 17 million users overtook Copains d’Avant in 2010. Despite this, the platform was still the third most popular social network among all age groups and genders in 2015, according to eMarketer. In the same year, 19.6 % of French internet users had an account with Copains d’Avant.
In June 2013, Pinterest launched its first non-English site, in French, in order to target the French population and increase awareness of its brand in non English-speaking markets. Executives at the American social networking company believed that the French community would be very engaged with subjects such as fashion and food, and thus might have an interest in pinning related pictures on their platform.
The most popular Facebook brand pages in France belong to French airline company Air France (6,910,294 fans; the French-language page of the American soft drink company Coca-Cola (3,270,814 fans); and fruit drink Oasis Be Fruit (3,038,320 fans).
The three most followed brand accounts on Twitter in France are music streaming service Deezer France (1,059,688 followers); video game publisher Ubisoft FR (1,023,317 followers); and gaming console PlayStation France (924,698 followers).
The most viewed brand channels on YouTube in France are Famille Musulmane, an animated kid’s series and book collection designed to teach children about Islam (377,435,720 video views and 718,022 subscribers); imineo.com, a French video streaming site (269,110,177 video views and 295,145 subscribers); and the French-language version of the South Korean electronics company Samsung-FR (149,354,297 video views and 84,958 subscribers).
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’ asked viewers to rewrite the story of the online video. The campaign went viral globally including in France, which wasn’t one of the target markets initially. 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.
Language and Culture
- French is the official language in France and 28 other countries
- French is the ninth most used language on the Internet
- Formality, hierarchy and aloofness are very important in French business culture
The BBC estimates that 88 % of France speaks French as a primary language. Nearly all of those who speak minority languages also speak French. Minority 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 (a Celtic language) or Catalan.
Like in several other languages, the formal vs. information second-person address 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 informal modes of address seem to be taking over on social media, to the detriment of the formal ‘vous’.
According to some digital experts, the internet has broken down social barriers and placed everyone on a more equal footing. Moreover, especially on Twitter, given that tweets cannot exceed 140 characters (now 280) and that sentences using ‘tu’ are usually shorter than sentences using the formal ‘vous’, ‘tu’ forms seem to be used even more. Nevertheless, some others claim that this change poses a threat to social hierarchy and traditional conventions of respect.
France is the only country to have an ‘Académie’, an organisation which aims to protect and update the French language. Particularly in the last decade, this body has tried to prevent the Anglicisation of the French language.
A French law dating back to 1872 prevents the government from collecting any census data on the ethnic and religious makeup of the population, but some independent surveys have been conducted. In 2009, Solis, a marketing company, estimated the numbers for ethnic groups in France as 88.2% White European, 3.26 million Maghrebi (5.23%), 1.83 million Black (2.94%), 1.08 million Sub-Saharan African (1.7%), 757,000 French West Indies (1.2%) and 250,000 Turkish (0.71%).
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 in which respect for authority is essential and CEOs generally don’t have relationships with subordinates.
France has one of the strictest body of 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, public outcry ensued. When asked about the issue by a French privacy watchdog, Facebook France officials denied the claims and stated that there had been ‘no invasion of users’ privacy’. However, unconvinced by Facebook’s denials, many people continued to report the issue.
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 Americanisation, considered 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 heritage. 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 football, the most popular sport in France.