Recently, we posted a brief overview of social media in Russia. Today, we are continuing our SMC Europe series with Austria. Social Media Club Austria was founded in the spring of 2010 and is based on the website socialmediaclub.at. The chapter has not yet held any events, but is planning to organize a bloggers’ conference in the coming months. Meanwhile, its website is continuously updated with news on interesting social media developments.
I contacted Christoph Jeschke, one of the founders of Social Media Club Austria, to help me shine some light on state of social media in his country. Here is what I found out:
A brief history
Quite simply, Austria is behind. In the early 2000s, when social media just began to take shape, Austrian social media world was confined to only a small group of people. Then, in 2006, came the first Austrian BarCamp, which still continues to be one the most important social media events in the country.
A surge in the use of social media happened in 2008 and 2009, as people became more and more involved with Facebook. Originally, StudiVZ was a popular social networking site, but as it was largely the same as Facebook, it soon began to lose popularity. An interest in social media was also gauged, interestingly enough, as a result of Barack Obama’s campaign, which utilized many social media tools. Some credit also goes to Armin Wolf, a journalist who uses Twitter daily to comment, in an amusing way, on current political and social issues.
Another important development occurred in October 2009, when Austrian students used social media to organize a protest against the lack of financing for the educational system and the Bologna Process. Using the hashtags #unibrennt and #unsereuni (“university on fire” and “our university”), as well as other social networking sites, they mobilized fellow protesters and organized communication with the general public. The students even set up a webcast from the Auditorium Maximum at the University of Vienna, which they occupied as a part of their demonstration. The protests soon spread to other countries, such as Germany and France.
Christoph told me his take on some of the current social media trends in Austria.
Facebook is a must have for everybody. However, there will eventually be a point when people will stop seeing value in Facebook. Even now, more advanced social media users prefer to use Twitter for personal matters. The fate of Facebook also depends on how companies will use it to interact with customers – whether they will embrace social media as a part of their campaigns or continue using traditional media.
LBS (location-based service). People are becoming more and more involved with foursqure and Facebook Places. The former is expected to become more important in the community, since is offers a rewards system and a unique business opportunity.
YouTube. While YouTube is widely used in Austria, it has not yet been a huge part of advertising campaigns. In fact, there are only two examples of viral videos so far:
Money Boy. This video, of a rather bad rapper, has received over 10 million views on YouTube. Moneyboy was even invited to appear on MTV.
Barbra Streisand. Or, rather, Ursula Stenzel. This copycat video was made when the politician tried to introduce stricter closing hours. The video got a lot of attention and actually led to a change in policy.
Twitter. It is often used in combination with TV programs like Zentrum and Club2, which offer
discussions about society and politics. People can share their opinions and view those of other users via Twitter.
TV & Social Media. Shows that are important in the social media world, such as the ones mentioned above, are largely produced by the official state TV company ORF. Smaller companies do not tend to be as influential, though they do have a few successful programs. Am Punkt, produced by ATV, regularly uses social media, asking viewers to send in their comments and questions, and addressing them on the show.
Corporate social media
Austrian companies are just beginning to engage in social media. They are still reluctant to spend large amounts of money on social media marketing, and are therefore often limit themselves to simply creating a Facebook page without devising a proper strategy. Social media agencies are beginning to appear, especially in Vienna, but already established agencies still believe that the traditional way of doing marketing is better. There are some companies, however, that have more or less embraced social media:
Ö3 is a popular pop radio station in Vienna. It uses Facebook to interact with its listeners and has the most successful social media community in Austria.
Vöslauer, the “Evian of Austria”, launched an integration communication campaign, asking users to vote on- and off-line for their favorite flavors.
Die Grünen, the Green Party of Austria, enlisted the help of Niko Alm, one of the most influential social media specialists, to launch a campaign. This past year, it had the best social media involvement of any party in Austria.
Overall, it seems that Austria is a bit behind in its use of social media. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are mostly used for personal communication; meanwhile, companies are still reluctant to embrace this new way of marketing. The future looks hopeful, however, as Austrians become more and more comfortable with social media.
If you missed our report on social media in Russia, here is the link.
Graphs taken from Social Media Radar Austria.