Five reasons Europeans are behind in social media marketing

why europeans are behind in social media

By Mars Dorian, {grow} Contributing Columnist

I’ve noticed something strange here in Europe that I couldn’t wrap my head around. At first.

Whether you look at the number of online job postings, the best viral marketing campaigns, or the world’s most respected social media marketing thought leaders, almost all of the innovation seems to come from the US of A.

There are exceptions of course, There always are. But why is it that a modern society like Western Europe — which has similar or better access to technology and creative minds, lacks so much in the social media innovation game ?

So I asked few professionals in the field, and I’ve found a couple of conjectures that may surprise you.

Disclaimer: Of course, I cannot speak for all of Europe, but as a German living in the thriving European start-up city Berlin, and knowing many tech friends from Madrid, London and Paris, I have a pretty good overview of what’s lacking in (Western) Europe, and more important, what YOU can learn from it!

Let’s find out what’s going on here.

1) Clinging to the past 

Gosh, people are obsessed with the past over here. Western Europe is at least 2-3 years behind the US in terms of technological adaptation. And that’s seeing it positively, with glowing rainbow glasses on. Blink blink.

Example: eBook sales in 2012 the US were 22.5% of the overall market, yet only 5% in Europe. From personal experience, that comes with no surprise. When I look around in the subways, I see more people reading deadwood books that eReaders.

But it’s not just eReaders. Smartphones, tablets, heck, any kind of new technological device arrives with years of delay in social acceptance. The minute it’s “old” for Americans, it’s “new” to Europeans.

Lesson: No matter how alluring the past may seem, you can’t cling to it. Content consumption moved from desktop to mobile, who knows where it will move to in the future ? You need to adapt to stay relevant.

2) General disinterest in (new) online networks

The fuel of any social media marketing campaigns are social media platforms.

We need a variety of networks to share our message to make it spread. Americans crave new networks and ideas : yester-yesteryear’s Foursquare becomes yesteryear’s Pinterest becomes this year’s (insert upcoming hit-startup here).

Most of my European friends, even the tech-savvy ones, primarily use Facebook. Seriously.

Twitter? Why would anyone be interested in me taking a crap and tweeting about it?

Google+? Is that a professional Google account?

LinkedIn? Is that some kind of link-building service?

It gets worse. When I visited my mother teaching graphic design at her Uni, and asked her students whether they had a blog or social media presence … no one said “yes.”

But three asked: “What’s a blog?”

Welcome to Europe’s future.

Lesson: in order to spread your content online, you need to try a variety of different online platforms to access your ideal target audience. If it’s just one platform you use (and know about), you’re shooting yourself in the social media foot.

3) Lack of relevant education, lack of thought leaders.

Compared to the US, we have no culture of conferences, other than Loïc Le Meur’s LeWeb event … but even this French guy decided to settle in the U.S.

And with this lack of industry events, this lack of critical networking and conversations, the knowledge doesn’t meld into public mind.

Thought leaders and ruckus makers like Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin and Tim Ferriss change the status quo with their ideas and shine a light on what’s possible now.

Since they’re all American, Europeans seem quick to dismiss their ideas, claiming that what they say will only work in America. Europe lacks role models and mavericks that inspire equally.

Lesson: If you want to level up the innovation in your market and area, you have immerse yourself and become educated. Be it through your blog, network or physical conferences, find a way to bring your knowledge and thought-leading ideas to the public mind.

4) Fractured markets.

Jonah Lehrer wrote in his book “Imagine: How Creativity Works” that innovation happens in densely populated areas — our cities — because creatives bump more into each other and exchange their ideas. That’s why Silicon Valley is America’s hotbed for major online innovation. With so many digital creatives in one tight spot, the constant exchange of new ideas is inevitable. When an idea catches fire across the Valley, it can easily spread around the nation. Whooosh.

Unfortunately, there’s no comparative hotspot in Europe. We have great start-up cities like London, Madrid, Paris, and Berlin, but these are cities that are cultures and countries apart. An app or social media campaign therefore tends to spread only across its culture, especially considering language barriers. French online media doesn’t invade German consciousness, and vice versa.

Lesson: Working remotely from creative hubs is a bad way to innovate. If you want to create more fresh and relevant social media content, you have to be closer to the source.

5) Fear of the future.

It’s no coincidence that in Germany, venture capital is called Risikokapital (“risk capital”).

Throughout Europe, if there’s an unusual idea for a social marketing campaign, people shoot it down first and ask questions later.  If it’s unprecedented, it’s viewed as dangerous.  Better safe than sorry.

The common mindset seems to be: Let’s see what those crazy Americans are doing, and if it works, maybe we’ll copy it.

M-a-y-b-e.

Hence all the Europe-based copycats of successful American marketing campaigns and online businesses. Obviously, you don’t innovate with that kind of mindset.

You just cope.

Lesson: If you spend your time coping with things, you will never thrive. It’s a requirement to fail with some ideas so you know what works in the future.

Conclusion

The overarching reason Europe is behind has nothing to do with money or resources.  It’s more about mindset.

Most of the lack of creativity in the European online space stems from fear — Clinging to past technologies, fear of the future, fear of failing. At least that’s what I found in my interviews and observations.

What do you think?

mars dorianMars Dorian describes himself as a creative marketeer with a moon-melting passion for human potential and technology. You can follow his adventures at www.marsdorian.com/

Original illustrations by the author.

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  • Hard to hear but it’s true. Having just rechecked my bookmarks under the heading ‘Marketing’, which contains all my links to content curation sites, blogs and news, and they are all based in the USA, even the content curation sites are predominantly listing links to US sites.

    Hardly any of my friends or work colleagues have any online presence other than the occasional image of a cat posted to Facebook (and a lot of them are creative enough to create content that people would want to read!).

    Having been to the US only once I found the people to be a lot more open and pleased to actually engage with me, rather than ‘having to’ to get through the day. This may be why they are happier to try new things and give encouragement to those creating and sharing.

    I think Europe will eventually catch up as the world becomes smaller and communication tech further improves, but we will always be restricted by tradition and an unwillingness to ‘open up’.

    Apart from me, I love everything new, might move to Vegas! 🙂

  • Dear Mars,

    I am a bit confused with this post. The title talks about innovation in social media marketing but then builds the arguments around the use of gadgets, mixing ideas such as technological innovation on the one hand, and consumption behaviours on the other.

    I am also confused with the circularity of some of the arguments – points 1 and 2 seem to be saying that the reason Europeans are not innovative is because they do not embrace innovations. Isn’t it a bit like saying that the reason the sun is shining is because the sun shines?

    I think that characterising a continent as not being innovative by focusing on the adoption of consumer gadgets and applications is slightly myopic. It forgets that this continent is the source of incredible innovations like the world wide web (without which today’s smartphone would be very dumb indeed) or the current mind-blowing work around graphene (whose potential impact on production processes, electronics and so on is beyond our imagination). So, as far as technology itself is concerned perhaps it is not the case that Europeans are not innovative, but rather that North Americans are better at commercialising the innovations. And that, in turn, could be driven by hard as well as soft factors, including (but not limited to) access to credit, attitude towards failure (including bankruptcy) and self-belief (aka, the American dream).

    Now, in terms of the adoption behaviours mentioned in this post (as opposed to innovation per se), I agree that there are some cultural factors at play, but not the factors that you mention. For instance:
    – The slow adoption of eReaders and the latest new shiny gadget could have to do with access to credit. Germans are not a nation of borrowers (for a broad range of complex factors). Yes, they did not rush to buy eReaders… but, then, there was no sub-prime crisis there, either. I think they win on that one.
    – The general disinterest in blogging and Twitter may have less to do with lack of interest in technology and more to do with temperament. European’s simply do not have a ‘look at me’ attitude.
    – There are also numerous other factors at play such as language, national borders and so on.

    I am sorry Mars, but I think that we all need to be a bit more sophisticated in the use of terminology (e.g., technology vs. behaviour) and our assessment of complex cultural situations (and, hence, the marketing lessons that we may derive).

  • There are a number of other key factors that explain the differences in technology adoption delay for Europe compared to the US.

    1) Language – most products are released in the manufacturers local language and english first with a delay for other languages. Note the Kindle only became available in German, French and Italian during 2012 as historically they had only been available in English which is no good if that is not your native language (we are talking about the consumer market here). The same is true for local language versions of Windows software and other consumer goods. Note that even the English versions of products are delayed in shipping in the UK due to demand in the US which means the technology isn’t even available for at least 6 months. The Amazon Kindle Fire / Fire HD is another example of this.

    2) Europeans are far more conservative than their US counterparts and will not adopt technology for technology’s sake, they want to understand the benefits first…

    3) Following on from (2), that is normally because technology costs more due to import duties, local taxes, costs of localization and international distribution

    4) Back to social media. Hubspot among others have great guides on different social media around the Globe. All the platform you spoke of are English platforms, there are often local language equivalents that are far more popular..(For instance, Xing rather than Linkedin in Germany or Viadeo in France….) Are you on those?

    There are many reasons for differences in techology adoption, business practices and innovation and I’m still learning them. And I’ve been working in international marketing within Europe for over 20 years mainly for US companies. Everyone’s different. That’s what makes the world go around and makes life interesting 🙂

  • Jay Perkins

    While I do agree in part with the general point of the article, I couldn’t help but find the summary of each point a little off the mark.

    Yes, most of the blogs and personalities I follow are US based, not UK or European, but then there’s a language barrier to be considered for my EU peers as well as a far disproportionate population when comparing the US to the UK. Doesn’t negate the point altogether but certainly a factor.

    I cant speak for the subways in EU cities but whenever I’m in London the underground is full of people using Kindle’s, iPad’s and iPhone’s to read their books.

    I would also suggest that the reason why adoption in the US happens far sooner and on a larger scale than here in the UK, is that businesses know if you make it in the US then that is a huge part of the journey to reaching their goals because of the sheer size of the market. Generally, its where the money and opportunity is so businesses and start-ups focus efforts there more often.

    Like I said, I do feel there is a delay in adoption over here but didn’t quite agree with some of the reasons.

  • Jay Perkins

    Well said.

  • Hey Jeremy, I do agree, especially with the language barriers. But I’m not just talking about importing and localizing ideas and technology from the US, but coming up with it in the first place. What I noticed is dozens of copy cats and me-too ideas that only appear AFTER the US created them.

    It always makes me think – why didn’t the people in the EU could come up with it. Why is it always copying instead of innovating ?

  • Hey Ana,

    thanx for taking the time to write such an elaborate answer –
    I appreciate it.

    I just believe that Europeans haven’t created anything in the last two decades that made a major splash in the online world.

    Of course I can’t speak for all countries in the EU, that’s why I focused on the biggest and most powerful in the Union (e.g. Germany, France, Spain, UK etc. )
    Why didn’t Europe create an important search engine (like Google ?)
    Why didn’t they create the first ereader ?
    Why didn’t they create the first, big online store ( Amazon)
    Why didn’t they create create Facebook ?
    Twitter ?
    Linkedin ?
    Firefox ?
    etc.

    I could go on and on, and I’ll always find the American innovation first and the European copycat later. The idea of the US being better at marketing is an excuse in today’s age – that’s a skill, and not a genetic trait, that we can acquire. Every child can learn that now online.

    And I don’t think it’s temperament either – look at how many EUs use SMS texting and Facebook – they seem to be just as share-intense as their American counterparts.

    At one point I personally believe you just can’t blame it on culture and other things – it comes right down on a willingness to move forward or fail by not doing anything but copy.

  • Hey Barry,

    I just hope the global access to the online world will change the old way of thinking, at least for the new generation of Europe. I’d love to see more of my fellow peeps here to embrace the new and not wait for the US to innovate – we have equal ground here, so there’s nothing holding us back, especially in the content creation part.

  • Hey Jay, you don’t have to agree with everything (or anything), I appreciate your comment.

    I agree, the US market is much bigger and comes with many advantages therefor. But so even if you artificially lower the US population to the size of the UK, they’d still innovate more, because of the way they think and treat businesses and new technologies.

  • Are Europeans really clinging to the past? I’m not sure. As others have said, I think language is a major issue. But is it? The UK isn’t particularly at the forefront of social media either.

    The blogs I follow and am inspired by are probably all US-based. But isn’t the US at the forefront of marketing in general? Content marketing, for instance, has seen a much slower take up over here (in Europe).

    With regards to e-readers – I don’t know the difference in adoption in European countries, but in the Netherlands, for instance, Amazon isn’t an online player at all. That may have had an impact on the general adoption of e-readers.

  • Recognize part of it, most certainly, not even offended 😀 But (there’s always a but, don’t know if that’s European) the national differences are big too. No offense to Germany but, as an example: when I go to DMEXCO in Cologne I see Germans do email marketing, in The Netherlands and Belgium we do marketing automation and I can tell for sure that from a technological perspective we lead in that area. Social media: depends. As we often work very limited budgets, we need to focus on return so we always work in an integrated way. In that sense we are ahead often. I’m not saying there are no silos here, on the contrary. I’m saying that there far more attention for the channels in the US than here where the focus is on the customer, experiences, integration and results. Again, I’m not generalizing. The bonus I have: I worked half of my career in Belgium where there are no budgets 😀 So we needed to be extra smart and focused. This way we learned to work in ways that are unseen in some larger countries. Ask my former colleagues at IDG or the international customers that hired us in Europe and now ask us to take the strategic globally, including in the US. I have a Danish friend with the exact same experience, he’s in New York with his agency now because his customers wanted him everywhere. I’m not going to list all the folks from Europe – and Belgium – heading global departments of big digital and ‘social’ friends nor the many tools and solutions that have been built here and have taken the US by storm 😉 However, I’m glad to see a generation of entrepreneurs going for it. Because that’s Europe – and Belgium – too: we have a tendency to be humble, nimble, quiet and scared of branding ourselves. I’m one of the exceptions and it ain’t easy, trust me 😉 Mars, it’s not about the technologies we use or not alone. It’s about the results we achieve in social media marketing and I can tell you – based on a very long experience – that in the US the exact same challenges exist in businesses when it boils down to smart marketing, processes, integration, heck, even innovation. A world citizen.

  • Very insightful and interesting post, that honestly I had no idea about!
    Thanks for sharing…

  • Yeah, the UK is a good example. They don’t have the language barrier and still don’t innovate, not even on the smallest scale. Why is content marketing US dominant ? There’s no real reason except curiosity and the willingness to fail. It’s not that Europeans are illiterate.

  • Henneke, you don’t count. You’re Dutch, you’re ahead of the US and Europe. No one uses social and digital as the Dutch (check out stats guys). That’s why I love the Dutch. Nice to meet you here too, Henneke. Guess you know what a blog and a comment are LOL

  • Come on, Mars. The reasons are pretty obvious, no? Follow the money and the politics.

  • Couldn’t agree more. Although this post knocks Europe’s historical ability to innovate online, saying it provokes people (reference-Ana’s post). I think that the real message is that the outlook is boundless. The potential once more engagement is sparked is what gets things exciting. That’s the beautiful part about the internet, just like human potential, it is unlimited.

  • Damn, those are some interesting points, J-P.
    I certainly don’t know anything about the small EU markets like Denmark or Belgium. But in the bigger ones like UK and Germany, we don’t even see one innovative startup shaking up the scene. Only when we see US startups succeed, do we spawn copycats that cost millions of euros. So the money is there in the first place, they just don’t want to spend it on something original first.

  • Well, Mars, here is more: disagree on the campaigns too. Most brands are FORCED to copy US campaigns as the mother firm is over there. But take a close look at the really creative campaigns. One of the innovating US people you mention: there’s a difference between innovation, perception and reality (and being loud about it in a country where you can be because of the scale and maybe more?). If your friends don’t know what LinkedIn I have to doubt your friends 🙂 Well, I can go on. Too bad you based your column upon perception and asking around my young friend 🙂

  • Disagree. The US leads in noise about content marketing. Content marketing is an umbrella term, coined by one person. As a practice it’s very well-known over here since ages. Read this please: http://www.contentmarketingexperience.com/2013/what-is-content-content-marketing-lessons-from-2004-and-before/ It’s on my blog on content marketing 😀 Do you know where the smartest content marketing tool I’ve seen until recently comes from? Canada. The CMI has to shout about content marketing and create noise, it’s their cash cow. But take a look at their surveys and what they define as content marketing. And even then: their own surveys say the UK leads in content marketing. Will reply with a blog. Too much work now 😉

  • German market is also very specific. Nearly like France. More focus on own language and nationality. Look at the languages spoken. At German conferences and French ones – again, this is not a country fight of some kind – I often meet marketers that don’t speak English. Regarding start-ups: will try to make you a list. Just one quick example: where did Janus Friis come from? Also know the German market is more scattered (more regional). France: same thing.

  • Jay Perkins

    Hey Mars, agree. There certainly is something about the US culture that makes a difference. It seems more people are motivated to take the entrepreneur path as Ana states, the ‘American Dream’ and a culture born from taking risks perhaps as opposed to the British ‘stiff upper lip’. Are people here more conservative with their career goals as a result?

  • Jay Perkins

    There are so many reasons that impact the current innovation, even how education and self confidence are instilled during childhood education, but most people would agree that the US and UK schooling system is not ideal.

    Thought provoking post, plenty of opinions either way, keep them coming 🙂

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  • Diego Santos Sicardo

    Unfortunately, I totally agree. I’ve thinking about this issue for a while now but I have never analyzed the reason. The worst part is that my country, Spain, is even behind Europe in all this. You could write almost the same article to compare Spain and the rest of Western Europe. Rough times!

  • I think it comes down to the past – and us clinging to it. We in Europe are old, old countries, unlike the US which is a melting pot of the courageous and ambitious Europeans from the past. But in today’s age with equal access to the world knowledge via the web, that argument won’t hold forever.

  • Reading you loud and clear, Diego. Our so-called unified market hasn’t made it easier lately, among others in Spain. On the other hand: the southern-European countries lead in mobile! Rough times indeed.

  • On Amazon: you’re right. Werner Vogels, CTO and VP of Amazon (who is Dutch by the way, just saying) already said many years ago at one or the other event in Amsterdam Amazon simply can’t roll out in smaller markets. And that includes The Netherlands. But why should they, right? I order there anyway and so do you I guess? In the UK and rarely when not available via Germany.

    I don’t agree that the US is at the forefront of marketing in general though, Henneke, really. On my top list of extremely smart and innovating marketing and business thinkers I have quite a few people from India (lots in fact), an Irish guy and many other nationalities. Not to forgot some French who really wrote about what’s happening now – including social – on a very high-level and many many years ago. I really think it’s perception. Same thing regarding online technology. Who “invented” the WWW to start with? Everyone knows it’s Tim Berners-Lee. SIR Tim Berners-Lee. British. Was he alone. Nope, his partner: Robert Caillau. Nationality? Belgian. Where did they invent it? CERN. Where’s that? Switzerland.

  • That’s a sociology debate I will gladly take somewhere else, Mars 🙂

  • The EU is an economical construction. And the WWW was invented by Europeans to start with.

  • I am sorry – I don’t get your point, John. Could you clarify?

  • MrTonyDowling

    I think the appetite is here in Europe, not sure why the innovation doesnt follow? Conferences like the brilliant Online Influence Conference (www.oiconf.com) that great names like Mari Smith and Mr Mark Schaefer himself are starring at in UK in June demonstrate this?

  • My inner feelings do definitely agree with your points. Objectively speaking this debate is for sure very complex.
    National differences meaning also languages barriers, different company cultures & market sizes are playing big parts in the social media innovation game.

    I join Ana saying; “as far as technology itself is concerned perhaps it is not the case that
    Europeans are not innovative, but rather that North Americans are
    better at commercialising the innovations.”

    In terms of innovation I’d like to mention http://www.paper.li a swiss start-up based at the swiss federal institute of technology (EPFL) Innovation Center in Lausanne, Switzerland.

    I think europeans in general tend to wait and see in terms of social media innovations and don’t jump quickly on trends to gain the first to market advantages.

    For instance I haven’t heard of any swiss company experimenting with Social scoring platforms such as Klout or Peerindex yet?

    Please let me know if you know any.

    Cheers,
    Claude

  • A recent example of excellence in innovation: Raspberry Pi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raspberry_pi). No doubt it will make a HUGE splash (to borrow your words) in terms of getting kids to programme and making computing accessible.

    Now, who will get fame and fortune out of it – directly or through applications of the principles and technology (as Amazon, which was NOT the first online bookstore, did with the Internet and eCommerce) – remains to be seen. I am guessing the US.

  • Nice debate and a topic that may be evergreen.

    I buy the premise. If social media marketing was an Olympic event, US would claim gold, silver and bronze. No doubt about that.

    Market size is probably the most important reason for that. When it comes to market US has been ahead of Europe, since Don Draper’s grandad was born. The execution, the variety of marketing discplines, the experience and the loudness are all more developed factors compared to Europe. Social media marketing is just another branch on that tree.

    Unlike Europe there’s just one market, one law and one language to follow and that makes US so much more interesting to launch and develop social networks in. I think that has more weight than the mindset. Yes, Europeans may be a step behind when it comes to online technologies. Then again, here in Scandinavia we’ve been text messaging since the late 90’es. US didn’t really step up in the mobile game until the iPhone arrived.

    In Germany, business people don’t know what LinkedIn is because everyone is on XING. In France, Viadeo is pretty popular. Both networks were launched around the same time as LinkedIn both far less known. Why? Because of the market cap – not so much about the European mindset.

  • Hi Mars – I agree with J-P, there are huge differences in gadget adoption, language etc. within Europe. I’m Norwegian, and I think you should look into the Nordic tech community – particularly the Swedes are among the top innovators in Europe, sporting successes such as Spotify and Skype, to mention a couple.

    I think language is one of the reasons why European successes don’t catch your eye. We tend to communictate in our own languages, and that probably means you’ve not read that many biz blogs in Swedish, Danish, Norwegian or Duch. But a lot of what goes on in the Nordics is pretty forward thinking. Add strong economies, high tech penetration etc. to the picture, and we have a lot going for us.

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  • Mars – thanks for posting this provocative piece and thanks too to all the contributors below.

    It could well be that Europe is a laggard where compared to the US in relation to social media innovation but, regrettably, Mars, I don’t think your arguments advance the case compellingly or convincingly.

    Incidence of eBook sales and use and awareness of multiple SoMe platforms are hardly indicators of “innovation”? They may point to slower adoption of new technological and digital trends but this is nothing to do with innovation.

    Likewise the reality of cultural and linguistic diversity across the European continent may limit the one-size-fits-all approach to the “social media innovation game” but it doesn’t imply the absence of innovation itself. Other comments below provide examples of this in counties like Norway and Sweden. I’ll simply reference Ireland, my country of residence, which I believe has punched way above its weight in terms of digital innovation from both the start-up and the promotion of thought-leadership perspectives. In fact one of Europe’s fastest growing tech conferences, the Dublin Web Summit, has now launched the London Web Summit and the New York Web Summit.

  • I’m Dutch and live near Los Angeles. And I have definitely seen both sides of social media use in Europe and the US.

    First of all, social media marketing and the startup scene are two different things. They aren’t the same worlds.

    Also, comparing Germany to Europe is obviously not correct. There are many clusters of startups that are everywhere around Europe in all different countries. The startup scene in Germany is very different from that in London, Amsterdam, Stockholm or Paris. This is due to many factors, language being the main one, size of market, culture, money available, etc.

    The Netherlands is one of the countries where Twitter is most widely adopted among its citizens. If I look specifically to Twitter use I am learning more from the Dutch, as far as being social, than from most US users. Unfortunately time zones are a big problem in this case. When Europeans are online using Twitter, we are asleep (their day time is our night time). And we don’t see it in the US.

    If I look at Dutch TV shows, internet is a widely discussed subject, both in news shows as well as in tv drama’s. Not as much as in the US, obviously it depends on what shows you watch. But the general idea is that its not as widely integrated. Same counts for tv commercials, tv shows, etc mentioning FB pages or Twitter account – I see that in The Netherlands far more than in the US.

    Obviously the US has far more inhabitants than many specific European countries, but if you look at percentages, I’m pretty sure it shows a different picture.

    Also, as far as startups goes, a lot of startups get funded in the US (mainly Sillicon Valley). This is where the money is and goes to, and because of that many ambitious programmers & entrepreneurs from all around the world are moving to SV to get funding and launch their business. You can find many, many immigrants (including Europeans) in Sillicon Valley (and all over the States).

    I am very happy to live in the US for what it offers, but I definitely try to stay connected with people working in social media in The Netherlands (and elsewhere), as the ideas that I hear and get from those countries are definitely interesting, inspiring and valuable. It’s truly the best of both worlds.

  • Sarah Arrow

    London has a thriving start-up scene and many VCs investing in tech businesses. Where are the links or supporting evidence. No links to support your wild hypothesis. In fact the only link has to an article by an author that’s been widely discredited.

    Perhaps culture plays a part in your perceptions. Many Europeans collaborate on projects. We understand that working together is better for everyone rather than relying on one person to innovate. You say nothing has come out of Europe, what about Spotify?

    What are the parameters for your statement? Fotolia Europes biggest stock image agency, would they count or not as the HQ is in the US? Germany gave us GameForge the largest independent games retailer. Into big data, what about Media Sift? I could go on but I suspect doing some research wasn’t part of the criteria for the post.

    As many people have stated social media and tech are two very different things.

    And finally, Europeans tend to have a different outlook on life. We may not throw out social media superstars like Gary Vaynerchuck but we do have a better work-life balance. Maybe it’s because we are not constantly on our smartphones looking to see what everyone else is doing? that we are actually present in our conversations and our real-life conversations.

  • Andrew

    The WWW, HTML, web browser (WWW renamed as Nexus), first search engine (w3catalog), ARM (CPU used in mobiles and embedded devices), LInux (used in devices and Android) , webcams, touch screens fibre and other comms, etc,

    Lots of technologies and improvements used by US and Asian company’s in their products. All from Europe.

    Countless companies employing European talent and setting up research centres example Microsoft Research Cambridge. I haven’t mentioned any European companies yet like Spotify or Lovefilm (now Amazon’s streaming service).

    Also try breaking down usage figures by country and you will find some European countries are high up in the ranks especially the UK. Also try this data divided by population to get a per head figure. Of course, some countries in Europe haven’t fully adopted the full western culture nor do they want to, for example fast food, nor do many countries have populations with such expendable income to buy this all this technology.

    There is however one difference which is why its not so easy for us to start such companies and that’s investment. European investors don’t like failure once branded its difficult to get investment for future projects (all entrepreneurs fail some say its key) and our investors also don’t like businesses which don’t have a proven business model from the onset (a lot of web companies, especially social / web 2.0, grow then have to find a model).

    So there are plenty of examples and many which are the foundation to the technologies and services your mention we use today.

  • First of all, I’m talking about innovation, not random online businesses.
    Where’s the European equivalent of a world changer like Google, Apple iTunes, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, LinkedIn, Kickstarter etc. ?
    These brands change the way we treat business and life on a fundamental level.
    Second, I disagree on the different outlook, especially in the Western part of Europe. People, especially the young ones, are just as obsessed with their smartphones. Check out the subways and cafes – people are staring down the whole time.

  • Nuno Ferreira

    Don’t believe the hype.
    Just to disprove some of your points:

    http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2011/12/42-major-countries-ranked-by-smartphone-penetration-rates/

    tie 16 . Greece
    tie 16 . Ireland
    tie 16 . Portugal
    tie 16 . USA

    USA was at the same level of Smarthphone penetration than, ironically, the 3 European countries that are currently (and were) on bailout.

    Well above you find Sweden, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Norway, UK, Italy, The Netherlands and Austria. Germany is below at 24.

  • “…we do have a better work-life balance.”

    You asked for supporting evidence with the article, so I will ask the same in this instance.

  • Andi Munich

    Super good points!! I have been studying here in Germany and been learning about that and I would definitely say people are averse to risk here. It’s more about long term strategy and less about big ideas that could work.

  • Karynne

    Pretty accurate. I was born and raised in Germany. I live in the U.S. now. I can say that when I grew up there we were always about 5 years behind of what happened in the U.S. That has changed somewhat but when it comes to social media and taking risks, Germans will be very cautious. We were just raised that way and then when you see all the negatives things happening like hacking personal info, bank info, etc. we can justify our prudent approach and say “I knew that would happen” or something like it. Having said that, I don’t think it is necessarily a bad thing to proceed with caution and sometimes waiting to see what others are experiencing before jumping into it. I personally am not a follower to have to do everything ASAP the masses are doing but I can say that I react faster than the typical German after having done thorough research to assure myself that it is “good for the troops”.

  • your mom

    maybe europeans are not as materialistic as americans

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