March 2018 - Social Media | Doing Business in Germany

Doing Business in Germany: Knowing Your Social Media Channels

Social media in Germany may not be tapped into as regularly as in other markets. Therefore, companies should know their platforms and their target audiences and, most importantly, know how to address them.

© alla_snesar |

The other day, when colleagues from Spain and England and I were chatting about Facebook and Twitter, the one from Spain mentioned a social network for business professionals that I and my English friend hadn’t heard of, despite it apparently having been around for some time. 

Whether you call it “shink,” “ksing,” “sing dotcom” or “crossing,” it’s all the same social network.

The social network was called “shink.” As our Spanish friend filled us in on what shink could do and how we should learn to use it, I mentioned that their “shink” reminded me remotely of our “ksing.”

It was our English colleague who, after listening awhile, had us spell our networks’ names. This is how we found out that whether we called it “shink,” “ksing,” “sing dotcom” or “crossing,” we’d all been discussing the same social network: xing.

The same social network is a different social network

Which, after a round of intercultural laughter, brought us to the following question. Given that we have different names for the same social network, could there also be differences in how we use these social networks? As it turns out, there are. Here is what we found about social media in Germany, who uses them, and what this means for your marketing activities if you are doing business in Germany.

  • Facebook – Still Germany’s largest social network. Thirty-three percent of all Germans use Facebook at least once per week, most of them daily. This makes Facebook your first choice if you want to reach an audience, regardless of age.

  • Instagram – Used by 9 percent of all Germans at least once per week. German Instagram users tend to be under 30, making Instagram an interesting platform if you target young audiences.

  • Snapchat – Used by 6 percent of all Germans at least once per week. It has a smaller audience than Instagram but is more distinctively a young person’s choice.

  • Twitter – Used by 3 percent of all Germans at least once per week. Note that there are more male Twitter users than female.
  • Google+ – There are no accurate figures for the actual user numbers for Google+ in Germany, but it is estimated that up to 3 percent of Germans are active. This is a far cry from the figures for American users, who make up 55 percent of all users on the platform, and this should be taken into account when trying to engage with German customers.

  • Xing – Used by 2 percent of all Germans at least once per week. In Germany, its core idea is by far its most important: people use Xing to find a new job.

  • LinkedIN – Used by 1 percent of all Germans at least once per week (a decline from the 2 percent measured in 2016).

Generally, social media usage has not grown much in Germany over the course of the last year, and usage is not as high as, for instance, in the US. For more details, look into the Online Survey published by Germany’s two large public broadcasting networks, ARD and ZDF. The survey is in German, but the graphics are easy to understand, even for an international audience.

How to Address Your Audience in Germany

In many ways, content marketing and social media marketing in Germany are much like everywhere else. Companies who want to grab the attention of their (potential) customers and eventually want them to hit “buy” should have a compelling story to tell, and they should tell it without being annoying. Don’t overpromise. Stick to the truth. This not only pleases your customers, but also spares you legal trouble.

Germans expect you to put your common business first, while all things social will come later (perhaps).

But there is one respect in which German professionals are peculiar. They tend to keep their business and private lives apart. Maybe this is not as true as it once was, and perhaps things are changing with millennials moving in. But when doing business with Germans, you can still anticipate that they will expect you to put your common business first, while all things social will come later (perhaps).

With the very idea of social media being “social,” where does this leave you and your marketing campaign? The main thing to understand is that in German culture, one’s business and private life usually are kept separate. However, this lesson is not that you should keep your business out of social media. The lesson is that you should design your message accordingly. In short, this means, focus on the benefit you have to offer. Because in this regard, Germans are no different from any other audience you are targeting. 

If they see a business benefit, they will come.

Which social media channels do German users trust?


Xing is Germany’s most trusted social media platform, according to a report published by Faktenkontor, a PR agency located in Hamburg. 62 percent of all Xing users trust information they find here. Xing, according to the report, not only beats other social platforms in terms of credibility, but also classic media like newspapers and broadcasting.

Other channels

LinkedIN is a trusted source of information for 56 percent of its users, Twitter is a trusted source for 47 percent of its users, while 43 percent of all Instagram users, 41 percent of all Snapchat users and 40 percent of all Facebook users consider information they found here trustworthy.