The level of Internet penetration in Eastern European nations varies widely. The three most connected countries are: the Slovak Republic with more than 79 per cent of the population with Internet access; the Czech Republic (almost 71 per cent) and Hungary, where more than 65 per cent of the population were connected to the internet by December 2011.
Poland wasn’t that far behind Hungary, with 62 per cent of the population was connected to the internet, but the Republic of Moldova had just over 50 per cent of the population connected by September 2012, and Bulgaria had almost 49 per cent of the population connected to the internet by December 2011.
Falling behind in the Internet connectivity stakes were the Ukraine (according to one study, 59 per cent of the Ukrainian population had not used the Internet by March 2012), Romania, wherejust over 39 per cent of the population were connected to the internet by December 2011, and Belarus which reported around 3.1million internet users in the country in 2011 (around a third of the population).
In January 2012 Belarus passed a law which said that any business engaged in selling goods online needed to be based or registered in Belarus or be subject to a fine. The same law requires people that run public internet access points (such as cyber-cafes) to register the users and keep a record of which sites they visited, or face a fine.
- The Slovak Republic has the highest level of internet connectivity at 79 per cent
- odnoklassniki.ru is more popular than Facebook in Moldova, and vk.ru is more popular in the Ukraine.
- Facebook is the most visited website in Romania and Bulgaria
- Twitter appears to be less popular in Eastern Europe, with Belarus and the Ukraine visiting the site the most frequently.
- YouTube is very popular in Eastern Europe, especially in Moldova and Romania
- LinkedIn isn’t that popular in the Ukraine and Belarus, but popular in Romania and the Czech Republic.
- Poland has the most Google Plus users in Eastern Europe.
Facebook versus local networks
According to Alexa, Facebook is the most visited website in RomaniaandBulgaria, the second most visited in the Slovak Republic , HungaryandPoland, andthe third most visited site in the Czech Republic. Facebook is slightly less popular in the Republic of Moldova, where it’s the fifth most visited site, and even less so in the Ukraine (seventh most popular) and Belarus (tenth most popular).
More than 23 per cent of the online population of Romania is on Facebook, and the most liked pages all belong to Romanian musicians (such as Elena Alexandra Apostoleanu – aka Inna– whose page has nearing 6.7million likes). Thirty-four per cent of Bulgarians are on Facebook, with the most popular page belonging to Bulgarian footballer Dimitar Berbatov (over 1.3million likes). November 2012 saw thousands of Bulgarians joining the Facebook group “film the police” which aimed to show police officers acting irresponsibly.
The most popular page in the Slovak Republic belongs to a fashion blogger (over 2.2 million likes), while in the most liked Facebook page in Hungary belongs to jewellery brand Extreme Silver (more than 955,000 likes). Poland is ranked twenty-fifth in the world for Facebook use. The most popular page is a general entertainment page called Demotywatory, which is approaching 1.5 million likes. (Social network nk.pl used to be the most popular network in Poland – with 12.3 million users to Facebook’s nine million back in 2011 – but it is currently the twenty-second most popular website in Poland). Recent research has shown that while 40 per cent of Poles predominantly use Facebook, 37 per cent mainly use nk.pl. The most popular Facebook page in the Czech Republic is a government road safety page with over 502,000 likes.
It’s often the case that Facebook is less popular when there are other, more established local social networks in existence. The most popular Facebook page in Moldova (with over 497,000 likes) belongs to a Moldovan pop singer. However, only 6.17 per cent of the population have Facebook accounts at the time of writing. The most popular social network in Moldova, Faces.md, shut down in May 2012, leaving Russian network odnoklassniki.ru as the most popular social network and third most visited site in Moldova. (It’s seen as an easier network to use, and users are predominantly from rural areas of Moldova). In September 2012 odnoklassniki.ru caused some controversy in Moldova when it blocked 18 year old Nicolae Petrov, admin of the largest group in Moldova. The group had 369,000 users, and was used to provide information and a place for discussion. Petrov felt that it was banned because it discussed unifying Moldova and Romania, and disgruntled users planned a complaints campaign against the network.
Odnoklassniki’s rival social network vk.com is much more popular than Facebook in the Ukraine (it’s the third most visited site). Only 4.62 per cent of the population has a Facebook account at the moment, with the most popular page being a generic fan page for people that like cars (over 330,000 likes). VK is the most popular site in Belarus, while Facebook is languishing down in tenth position, just ahead of odnoklassniki.ru in eleventh. The most popular page belongs to the Belarusian tennis player (and world number one) Victoria Azarenka (172,275 likes).
Twitter doesn’t seem to be hugely popular in Eastern Europe, if you go by visitors to the website alone (setting aside the number of people accessing the site via a mobile app or via a tool such as Tweedeck). It’s the seventeenth most visited site in Belarus, where the most popular account is that of blogger bygirl, which has 22,214 followers. It’s the eighteenth most visited site in the Ukraine, where the most followed page belongs to Ukrainian singer Anastasiya Kamenskih(617,847 followers).
The most popular Twitter account in Moldova belongs to a web development blog called designmodo (206,360 followers), and Twitter is the twentieth most popular website. It’s the twenty-second most visited site in both Romania and Bulgaria.The most followed account in Romania belongs to car manufacturer BMW (6618 followers), while in Bulgaria, the most popular account is that of Canadian/Bulgarian actress Nina Dobrev (more than 2.8 million followers).
Twitter is the thirty-fifth most visited site in the Czech Republic, the most followed account is that of Czech Ice Hockey star Jaromir Jagr (90,858 followers). Twitter is the forty-seventh most visited site in Hungary, where the most followed account is a lifestyle and fashion account called BienHu (just 771 followers). Finally, the Slovak Republic and Poland both list Twitter as their fifty-seventh most visited website. The Slovak Republic’s most followed account belongs to Slovakian model Scarlett Rumor (779,572 followers), while Poland’s most popular account belongs to gaming site World of Tanks, @wargaming_netPL (2859 followers).
YouTube is very popular in Eastern Europe, it’s in the top six websites visited for all countries, but appears to be most popular in Moldova and Romania. It’s the second most visited site in the Republic of Moldova, where the most popular page is mobile operator moldcell’s channel, which is approaching 210,000 video views. It’s the third most visited site in Romania, where the most popular channel is all about clubbing (more than 1.2 million video views).
YouTube is the fifth most visited site in the Czech Republic, the most popular channel being clubbing channel rukahore, which has more than 23.5 million views. It’s the sixth most popular site in Belarus, where the most popular page belongs to a vlogger (video blogger), and is approaching 34,000 video views.
LinkedIn appears to be less popular in Eastern Europe; it’s the seventeenth most popular site in Romania (a Romanian language version was launched in July 2011), the eighteenth most popular site in Bulgaria, and the twenty-first most visited site in the Czech Republic. LinkedIn launched its Czech language version in January 2012, at the time it reported having 250,000 Czech users. The site appears to be less popular in Poland (although in April 2012, when the Polish language version was launched, it was reported that there were 500,000 Polish users, it’s still the fortieth most visited site in the country); the Ukraine (forty-first) and Belarus (forty-eighth).
Google Plus isn’t massively popular in Eastern Europe. None of the nations are in the top 15 countries for Google Plus users. Poland has the most Google Plus users (more than 626,000), 68 per cent of whom are between the ages of 18 and 24. The Ukraine is nearing 444,000 users, and 45 per cent of them are 18 to 24, and Romania has more than 370,000 users, 53 per cent between the ages of 18 and 24.
US based Facebook competitor Hi5, is popular in Romania and Hungary. It was acquired by Tagged (a US network that focuses on finding new friends) in December 2011, with has 20 million active users. Romania has 3.5 million Hi5 users, 71 per cent of whom are aged 13 to 24.
- Moldovan brands seem to favour Facebook, while consumers prefer odnoklassniki.ru
- Some brands, like extreme silver are popular in more than one country
- Web development brand DesignModo is popular across all social channels in Moldova
- The most popular social presences are of local brands, or localized global brands
In Moldova, there seems to be a disconnect between brands and consumers, with most Moldovan brands and celebrities maintaining Facebook pages, while the majority of Moldovan internet users prefer to use odnoklassniki.ru. Meanwhile, a study into social network usage in Romania revealed that the most popular reason for social network use was to connect with friends (over 65 per cent), followed by relaxation (over 40 per cent) and to get relevant information (20 per cent).
The most popular brand page in both Romania and Hungary is jewellery brand extreme silver (697,271 likes and over 57,000 people talking about the page). Colgate Romania used a Facebook App called Zambometeru (or Smilemeter) to track interactions with its social media campaign in September and October 2012. Back in 2010, Saatchi Hungary and T-Mobile joined forces to carry out a street art campaign that demonstrated how easy it was to use Facebook on mobile. Over the 10 days of the campaign, the page received more than 18,000 likes.
The most popular Facebook page in the Ukraine belongs to nightclub brand metroclub (nearing 104,000 likes), while the most popular page in the Czech Republic is that of drinks brand Kofola (over 363,700 likes). The Czech Republic tourism board recently changed its slogan to Czech Republike in an effort to reach out to the social audience, and started rolling the changes out to all of its social presences.
In Belarus, the most popular Facebook page belongs to car manufacturer Mercedes Benz (6075 likes), while in Poland its most popular page is Serce I Rozum (more than 1.4 million likes, which is mobile provider Orange’s page (and appears to centre around the brands Polish mascots). In Moldova, web developer DesignModo dominates with over 80,000 likes and more than 1600 people talking about the page.
Web development firm, Design Modo, has the most followers of any brand-owned Moldovan Twitter account (over 206,000). In Bulgaria, domestic mobile operator Globul has the most followers (approaching 1000), while AV provider AVAST has the largest follower base in the Czech Republic (more than 70,000). The most followed Twitter account in the Slovak Republic belongs to advertising agency WebPomoc (over 26,000 followers).
Romania’s most followed account is car manufacturer BMW’s Romanian account which has over 6,600 followers. Poland’s is cruise firm, Stena Line, with 259 followers, meanwhile in the most popular brand account in Belarus belongs to Alfa-Bank (981 followers).
In four nations of the Eastern European nations, the most popular branded channels belong to mobile operators. In the Czech Republic, it’s the local T Mobile channel, with more than 24.5million video views. In the Ukraine it’s life.ua’s channel (nearing 458,000 views). Bulgaria’s most viewed branded channel was MTel (over 178,000 views). In Moldova, the Moldcell channel has over 209,000 video views.
In Poland, fashion channel stoprocenttv has approaching 46 million video views, while EA Games Czech Republic channel is the most popular channel in the Slovak Republic with over 4 million views. The channel for Cluj Life (a kind of events and party website) has over 1.2 million views in Romania.
- Each nation speaks its own language, although they do share minority languages
- Although several languages may be popular, in general, there seems to be no strong desire to learn a second language
- The celebration of cultural landmarks, such as independence days or liberation, is still very important to cultural identity
The 2001 census reported that the population comprised over 90 per cent Czech, more than three per cent Moravian, almost two per cent Slovak and four per cent other. The main language spoken was Czech (94.9 per cent) followed by Slovak (two per cent) and other/unidentified languages just over three per cent.
According to the 2012 Eurobarometer report, 49 per cent of people speak at least one foreign language. Twenty-seven per cent of the population can speak English well enough to hold a conversation (followed by 16 per cent Slovakian, and 15 per cent German). Only 19 per cent of Czechs understand English well enough to use it online.
The Czech Republic celebrates quite a few national holidays, including: the Day of Restoration of Czech Independence (the republic was founded in 1993) on 1st January; Liberation Day(marking liberation from Nazi occupation in 1945) on 8th May; Workers Day (celebrating the workforce, most spend the long weekend at their weekend homes); and CzechoSlovak Independence Day(which celebrates the creation of the Czechoslovakian Republic from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 and is still observed in the Republic on 28th October). People also celebrate name days, and have a carnival/masquerade season called Masopust (known as Fasinek in Slovakia).
The Czech Republic claims to have the highest consumption of beer in the world, and the most popular sports are football and hockey.
The 2009 census revealed that almost 84 per cent of the population were Belarusian, just over eight per cent Russian, around three per cent Polish, 1.7 per cent Ukrainian and just over three per cent other. The official languages were Belarusian (23.4 per cent) and Russian (70.2 per cent), with other languages making up 6.4 per cent.
Belarus has national holidays for: Independence Day (marking the liberation of Minsk by the Soviet troops from the Nazis) on 3rd July and a second Independence Day celebrated by some on 25th March, marking the time in 1918 when Belarus temporarily broke free of Bolsheviks rule.
Belarus has strong regional ties, with Russian buying around 70 per cent of its exports. It’s also interesting to note that the Queen of Poland is a Belarusian. Belarus is mainly rural, with several larger cities.
The 2002 census showed that almost 97 per cent of the population were Polish, 0.4 per cent identified as Belarusian, 0.1 per cent Ukrainian and other/unspecified 2.7 per cent. The official language was Polish (almost 98 per cent), and other languages made up 2.2 per cent.
According to the 2012 Eurobarometer report, 50 per cent of people speak at least one foreign language. Conversational English is used by 33 per cent of the population, 19 per cent can hold a conversation in German, and 18 per cent in Russian.
Sixty per cent of Polish people live in cities. Name days are very important to commemorate. It’s important to use the correct form of language in Poland, for example, people can only use “Ty” for “you” if the relationship has progressed to that level of informality.
The 2001 census reported that 92.3 per cent of the population were Hungarian, 1.9 per cent were Roma and 5.8 per cent were other or unknown. The main language was Hungarian (93.6 per cent), with other/unspecified at 6.4 per cent.
According to the 2012 Eurobarometer report 35 per cent of people can speak at least one foreign language. Only 16 per cent of Hungarians understand English well enough to use it online. Just 20 per cent of Hungarians say that they use English well enough to use it in conversations, with 18 per cent saying that they can hold conversations in German and three per cent having conversational French.
Major national holidays in Hungary include: commemorating the death of King Stephen on 20th August; remembering the civil revolution of 1848 (celebrated on 15th March); and remembrance of the revolution on 1956 on 23rd October. Local festivals and fairs include the southern Folklore Festival along the Danube and the northern region’s annual Palóc Festival.
The 2001 census reported that almost 86 per cent of the population were Slovak, almost 10 per cent Hungarian, 1.7 per cent Roma, one per cent Ruthenian/Ukrainian and 1.8 per cent other/unspecified. Almost 84 per cent spoke Slovak(the official language), more than 10 per cent Hungarian, 1.8 per cent Roma, one per cent Ukrainian, and 2.6 per cent other/unspecified.
According to the 2012 Eurobarometer report 80 per cent of people can speak at least one foreign language. Sixty-one per cent of Slovaks say that they speak Croatian well enough to hold a conversation, while 26 per cent have conversational English, and 22 per cent can hold a conversation in German.
National holidays in the Slovak Republic tend to revolve around the Christian calendar, but also include; Independence Day (January 1st); the liberation of the Slovak Republic (May 8th) 8 May; and Constitution Day on 1st September. Agricultural areas celebrate the annual grain harvest with a festival called dožinky in August. In the early fall, oberačky celebrates the harvesting of apples and other late orchard crops. These local secular events include feasting and dancing.
The 2001 census reported that around 78 per cent of the population were Ukrainian, more than 17 per cent Russian, 0.6 per cent Belarusian, 0.5per cent Moldovan, 0.5 per cent Crimean Tatar, 0.4 per cent Bulgarian, 0.3per cent Hungarian, 0.3 per cent Romanian, 0.3per cent Polish, 0.2 per cent Jewish and 1.8 per cent other. Sixty-seven per cent speak Ukrainian (the official language), 24 per cent Russian, and nine per cent other languages.
Public holidays include: International Women’s Day on March 8th; Victory Day(commemorating WWII) on May 9th; and Constitution Day on June 28th. Independence Day is celebrated on August 24th with military parades and fireworks.
The 2002 census reported that around 90 per cent of the population were Romanian, more than six per cent Hungarian, 2.5per cent Roma, 0.3per cent Ukrainian, 0.3 per cent German, 0.2 per cent Russian, 0.2 per cent Turkish and 0.4 per cent other. The official language is Romanian (91 per cent of people speak it), 6.7 per cent speak Hungarian, and 1.1 per cent speak Romany (with other languages totalling 1.2 per cent).
According to the 2012 Eurobarometer report 52 per cent of people from Romania cannot speak any foreign language. Nineteen per cent don’t feel that there is an advantage in learning a foreign language. That said, 31 per cent of Romanians said that they had conversational English, 17 per cent said that they had conversational French, and seven per cent reported that they could hold a conversation in Italian. It has been reported, that although Romanian is the dominant language, English is the most common language used when communicating via social media.
The 2011 census reported that almost 77 per cent of the population were Bulgarian, eight per cent Turk, 4.4 per cent Roma and 0.7 per cent other. The official language is Bulgarian, which almost 77 per cent of the population speak, just over eight per cent speak Turkish, and almost four per cent speak Roma. Other languages make up over 11 per cent of the languages spoken.
According to the 2012 Eurobarometer report 48 per cent of people can speak at least one foreign language. Twenty per cent say that they understand English well enough to use it online, and only eight per cent use foreign languages when writing emails or letters at work. Twenty-five per cent report having conversational English, 23 per cent conversational Russian, and eight per cent German.
Public holidays include: National Day(March 3rd), Labour Day(May 1st), Education Day(May 24th), Unification Day(September 6th), Independence Day (September 22nd) and Leaders of the Bulgarian Revival Day(November 1st).
The 2004 census reported that just over 78 per cent of the population identified as Moldovan or Romanian, 8.4 per cent Ukrainian, 5.8 per cent Russian, 4.4 per cent Gagauz, 1.9 per cent Bulgarian and 1.3 per cent other. The official language us Moldovan, and Russian and Gagauz (which is a Turkish dialect) is also spoken.
National holidays include Women’s Day(March 8th), Workers Day(May 1st), Victory Day(May 9th) and Independence Day on 27th August. Research has shown that Moldovans believe that there has been a general increase in corruption in public bodies, which is creating tension in everyday life.