If your brand isn’t already using social media in France, it should be. Here’s how to get it right – and your French creative juices flowing.

France’s relationship with social media is complicated.

It has the fourth largest number of internet users in Europe, and social media penetration is relatively high at 58%.

The French landscape is similar to the US and UK. The most popular platforms are YouTube and Facebook at 69% and 65%, while younger female audiences prefer Instagram.

Interestingly, the French vary their social media use throughout the day. Facebook is popular in the morning and late evening, while Twitter and Instagram experience high use midday. So, social media in France should provide ample opportunity to engage and connect with customers.

But that hasn’t been the case until now. French brands and SMEs are late adopters of social media – and many still aren’t active on the platforms.

This means there is ample opportunity. But be careful, as you’ll need to consider some significant differences in the French mindset.

CONFIDENTIALITY AND ENGLISH USE

The French value privacy. In fact, 91% of people in France believe data protection is important. And in recent years, tech companies and French politicians have clashed repeatedly over how best to deal with it.

Because of this desire for privacy, the government has taken steps to discourage social media use. Starting in September 2018, mobile phones were banned in schools, and the words ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’ were forbidden on TV and radio. Children can even sue their parents for posting pictures of them on social media.

There are also several laws governing how you’re allowed to market your brand. For example, you can only use English in your advertisements if it’s accompanied by a French translation. This touches on another sore point for the French – the encroachment of English on French language and culture.

This means the French are used to experiencing the two languages alongside each other. And this could explain why they prefer videos to be subtitled, not dubbed – an important point to note for your social media strategy.

SOCIAL MEDIA OPPORTUNITY

French companies need to jump through a lot of hoops to build their social media presence. And because they’re incentivized to maintain a small social presence, they often don’t have enough people to manage their social media accounts. As a result, many companies don’t invest their time in social media.

Interestingly, it’s not just social media that’s affected. The ‘Right to Disconnect,’ launched by the government in 2017, means French employees aren’t allowed to receive work emails outside of working hours. This limits the exposure time for brands – so only 28% of French companies use email marketing campaigns.

Despite all these obstacles, online and social media advertising are becoming popular. In 2016, social advertising made up 38% of digital ad spending, which surpassed TV for the first time in France.

Although there are challenges, there’s also growing opportunity. And with so little competition, now is the best time to establish yourself on social media in France.

But how? Here are three helpful examples to get you started.

THREE SUCCESS STORIES OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN FRANCE

  1. RICORÉ

Coffee brand Ricoré found a creative way to engage with its customers using Facebook Messenger. The idea was simple: tell the Facebook bot when you want to wake up in the morning. Then, Ricoré will send you a cute video or funny gif to wake up to. The endearing campaign allowed the brand to engage with customers right before their morning coffee, putting it front and foremost in their mind.

  1. LA SEMAINE DU GOÛT & SPONTEX

La semaine du goût’ (‘the Week of Taste’ in English) brought many food brands to social media to show off the tastiest and best looking food they could offer.

Sponge brand Spontex used Facebook to capitalize on this by showing their hedgehog mascot cleaning all the dishes. Take a look at these examples:

The unusual strategy differentiated the brand from traditional cleaning product campaigns, positioning it as a fun, modern brand.

  1. IKEA

In 2016, IKEA launched its Retail Therapy campaign. It identified the most popular Google search terms related to relationship and family problems. Then, it renamed its products accordingly.

The result? A ‘my partner snores’ daybed, ‘how to say I’m not interested’ garlic press and ‘how to get a girl to like you’ oven.

Technically, this wasn’t a French social media campaign. But the funny initiative generated so much social media chatter for the brand in France that several news outlets reported on it, including France 24. A localized campaign for France would be a guaranteed success.

The take-home message from all these examples is that creativity counts. The French respond well to fun, engaging campaigns – so don’t be afraid to take a risk.

FINAL THOUGHT

Although there are challenges, social media in France is ripe with potential. With a large audience and very little competition, the right campaign could launch your brand into the French market.