Social media in Europe: 15 stats to inform your strategy

Managing a social presence across U.S. and European markets is a unique challenge for U.S-based marketers. Little nuances in platform and communication preferences can become major cultural differences when combined. To put it simply, social media in Europe is way different from social media in the U.S.

Despite these differences, you don’t need to add “armchair cultural anthropology” to your ever-growing list of social media management skills. You just need to gut-check your strategy against the right data.

To help, we gathered all the information you need to get up to speed on the state of social media in Europe. These statistics will help you tailor your social strategy to the European market so you can remain on message across the pond and beyond.

Social media in Europe: Advice from 3 marketers in the region

Before we can get into the numbers, we need to set the stage. European social media usage has evolved over the past few years, creating a new landscape for social media marketers to play in.

To map out this new terrain, we spoke with three Europe-based marketers during our recent webinar, “Interpreting the Index: What it Means for European Businesses”. Here’s what they said:

Consumer social sophistication is on the rise…

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed people to embrace social as a means of connecting with loved ones and brands alike. Today, pandemic restrictions have eased up but consumer social usage definitely hasn’t.

“We’ve experienced a huge spike in interactions across all social networks,” says Scott Jones, CEO of 123 Internet Group, a UK-based digital marketing agency. “We had to expand our team to make sure we could support the brands we work with.”

The more European consumers flock to social, the savvier they become. Keeping your European social media presence in maintenance mode may have worked in the past, but now, businesses will need a tailored strategy to succeed in the market.

…but that doesn’t mean brands can leave the basics behind

Like all things, this increase in social engagement has its ups and downs. On one hand, consumers are more likely to seek out connection with your brand. On the other, they’re not afraid to let you know when you miss the mark.

Georgia Porch, Social Media and Influencer Marketing Manager at Missguided, notes that when brands ditch customer service basics, it impacts more than just social strategies. It can also impact their bottom line.

“Mass social media adoption has shown consumers the power of their own voice,” says Porch. “Brands are so accessible now that the internet has negated the need to shop locally. Consumers quite literally have the world at their fingertips. If they’re not getting the service they deserve from a brand, it takes very little effort to jump ship and try elsewhere.”

The first step in meeting consumer demand is staffing

You can have the best social media strategy in place but without enough staffing resources, it’s going to be difficult to pull off.

“Social media in Europe is no longer what it was 10 years ago,” says social media expert Shandia Vythilingum. “Many brands are making it a focus point, meaning they’re looking for specialists and subject matter experts. Hiring is becoming a challenge and it’s a competitive market.”

European brands will build out their team over the next few years to develop more thorough, market-specific social media strategies. Once these teams are hired and ready to work, marketers managing a European social media presence from abroad will see an even more competitive region than before. 

15 Europe social media statistics to shape your strategy

Your success within the European market depends on your ability to keep up with more than just content trends. Staying aware of trends in social usage, management and planning can impact your accomplishments just as much as—if not more than—your content calendar itself.

Use industry research to inform how your brand navigates social media in Europe. To help, we rounded up some statistics from the 2022 Sprout Social Index™: UK & Ireland Edition, alongside other market-specific facts to help inform your strategy.

Europe statistics on social media jobs

Hiring is a hot topic for European social media teams, much like in the U.S. Businesses need more hands on deck for campaign management, data analysis, customer support and more.

A ranked list of European social media team's biggest challenges for 2022

1. Thanks to labor and skill shortages, hiring social media talent is the #1 challenge facing European social media teams today.

2. In 2021, 14.5% of small and medium-sized European businesses reported that they would spend more on social media marketing, making it the second most popular area of investment.

3. Social data has become an indispensable part of the European marketer’s toolkit. More than half of European businesses are using social data daily, and 31% are using it weekly.

4. The #1 way European marketers use social data is to find out how customers use their products or services. They also use social data to find out what people like about their business and for insight into what customers expect in the future.

The most popular social media platforms in Europe

Over the past years, we’ve seen new platforms emerge causing U.S. consumer usage to splinter across several options. Social media in Europe is following the same path, but with a few notable distinctions.

5. Some 67% of British and Irish consumers anticipate using Meta’s Facebook the most over the next 12 months, and 57% of marketers anticipate doing so as well.

A chart showing the platforms European consumers and marketers anticipate using most over the next 12 months.

6. About 307 million European consumers used Facebook on a daily basis in the first quarter of 2022.

7. Speaking of Meta, 41% of European consumers plan on using WhatsApp over the next 12 months. In contrast, only 7% of brands anticipate using WhatsApp for marketing.

What does this mean for marketers?

Social media messaging apps like WhatsApp can be a major differentiator for brands operating in Europe. While many consumers use the platform to connect with family and friends, research shows they’re more than willing to use it to connect with brands as well.

Businesses can capitalize on this opportunity by developing a WhatsApp for Business strategy. That way, you can meet your European audience where they are already waiting for you.

A ranked list showing where European consumers are most likely to connect with a brand.

8. TikTok is building momentum within the UK and Ireland. Around one-third (31%) of consumers anticipate using it over the next 12 months.

9. Gen Z is turning to TikTok for entertainment. The top three adjectives European Zoomers use to describe the platform are “fun” (38%), “addictive” (37%) and “entertaining” (33%). Brands like the Black Country Living Museum are leaning into this by creating content that relies on both humor and pop culture references.

How emerging technologies will impact social media in Europe

This year, we’ve seen a ton of headlines covering the future of social. Marketers are making big bets that this will include virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and metaverse technology, but consumers are still hesitant, especially in European markets.

10. 67% of European social media marketers anticipate spending at least a quarter of their budget on an AR/VR/metaverse strategy over the next year.

11. Of all emerging technologies, consumers are most interested in virtual reality, augmented reality and extended reality.

12. However, this interest doesn’t mean consumers are ready to jump on the emerging technology bandwagon yet. Over a third (34%) don’t anticipate spending any time on emerging technologies over the next year.

What does this mean for marketers?

Make sure you’ve mastered today’s social media basics before moving on to the tech of tomorrow. Invest in your social customer care practices before prioritizing an emerging technology strategy.

How social media in Europe compares to the U.S.

The platform and trends people love may be global, but how they interact with both is still largely impacted by regional norms. If you’re based in the U.S., here are some Europe-specific differences you need to take note of.

13. When it comes to daily usage, British and Irish consumers are outpacing their counterparts in the U.S. More than one-third (37%) spend over two hours on social per day, compared to 31% who do so in the United States.

14. Most British and Irish consumers (81%) either agree or strongly agree that it’s important for brands to raise awareness and speak out on sensitive topics. It’s more important in the UK and Ireland than it is in the U.S, where only 71% of consumers feel the same.

A chart showing the actions European consumers take when a brand takes too long to respond on social media. 35% say they choose a competitor instead.

What does this mean for marketers?

Marketers based in the U.S. have to make time to stay up to date on European current events. This isn’t just a risk management play. Understanding what cultural moments are making an impact across Europe can help you create more timely, relevant content, too.

15. When faced with poor social customer service, European consumers are 5% more likely than American consumers to switch to a competitor. Delivering high-quality social customer care matters regardless of where you’re operating but in Europe, it can make an even greater impact on your bottom line.

Get a full read on social media in Europe

If you want to know more about the state of social media in Europe, check out the 2022 Sprout Social Index™: Social Media Trends for the UK and Ireland. Find out what’s top of mind for over 1,000 marketers and 500 consumers in these regions to plan your strategy for 2022 and beyond.

Check out the Report