Your social media strategy in Italy? It shouldn’t target zennials!

social media marketing in italy

When planning your social media strategy in a foreign Country, it is always a good idea to research social media habits among your target audience. For all you know, Myspace could still be the most popular platform somewhere. Before you start to panic, let me reassure you: no, Myspace is not the most popular social network in Italy, although we took considerably longer than most western countries to ditch Tom and embrace Mark and the others. However, things appear to be changing again, particularly among younger users, those who grew up surrounded by social media and consider their existence as a given, and are therefore much more inclined both to accept them and to question each platform’s individual merits, faults and policies. Here’s a quick recap of the situation.

Zennials are going offline!

Millennials are soon-to-be middle-aged and increasingly less interesting to marketers. Z-ennials (in case you were wondering, “Zennials” are the generation that came after “Xennials”, and they were born after 1995), on the other hand, are the future… and they are going offline in droves. Because “old” is the new “new” and offline is the new online, a significant part of this generation is intentionally eschewing the social dimension and choosing to like things in real life, rather than on Facebook. They elect not to “follow” strangers anywhere (because that would be weird) and to share “stories” around bonfires rather than on their smartphones. Should you be worried? Not yet, but you should prepare. While the phenomenon is not yet prevalent, it is certainly picking up momentum. Do we mean that Zennials are never to be found on social media? Not exactly, they are simply way more selective about them than Millennials or – god forbid – boomers.

More devices, better privacy

The average Millennial in Italy owns and uses three devices and can’t be bothered looking at license agreements and cookies, or updating their privacy settings when conditions change. Their younger siblings, on the other hand, are much more enthusiastic about devices and own five on average, but they are extremely careful where their privacy is concerned and more likely to make it harder for brands to target them specifically in meaningful ways.

social media marketing in italy millennial smartphone device

Facebook is still king?

In a word: no. On the whole, Facebook is no longer the most widely used social network in Italy. It is fairly ubiquitous and it spans across several demographics, from teenagers to artists, from awkward middle-aged professionals who don’t know the difference between their wall and their DMs (yes, really) to political activists and celebrities. The younger audiences, however, have already started deserting it. As of the end of last year, Youtube has surpassed Facebook, although not by far, as the most used social network in Italy (62% against 60%). Even among messenger apps, Facebook is losing to Whatsapp (which proves that Mark Zuckerberg was right in buying the latter) to the tune of 59% against 39%. Whereas, in most western Countries, Instagram appears to be on the rise, in Italy is still lagging behind, even among young users, with a meagre 33%.

Italy and Social Media

There are roughly 30M social media users in Italy, which amount to approximately 73% of the total population and they spend – on average – six hours a day online (about a third of that time is spent on social media). This first bit of data tells us something extremely important: the Internet has obscured television as a popular medium. Italians, in fact, don’t spend more than three hours a day watching Tv (and the number of Italians that don’t own a tv-set is on the rise). What we are witnessing at this particular time is nothing more than the well-known phenomenon of a generation endeavouring to distinguish itself from the one that preceded it, by abandoning certain habits that are perceived as old-fashioned and adopting other behaviours, that feel original and more authentic. In other words, the grownups have ruined Facebook for the young and they are about to ruin Instagram and Snapchat too. There are niches that do reasonably well on Tumblr, but that has more to do with subculture than age. If you have noticed the conspicuous absence of Twitter, it is because, while obviously popular, it doesn’t have the same relevance as in other Countries. Twitter users in Italy tend to use the platform mostly to engage in politics or connect with international communities. However, the proclivity of most Twitter users for heated arguments and “flames” has deterred many “peaceful” users.

social media marketing in italy millennial smartphone device

Strategic tips

If you are planning a social media campaign in Italy, make sure you have a defined target and you know as much as possible about it: who are its members? How old are they? Where do they live? Do they live in urban or rural areas? Do they share a specific interest? Based on that, you will be able to target specific communities (e.g. the make-up community can be found on Youtube and Instagram, but seldom on Facebook, while a generic adult demographic with no specific shared interest is better pursued on Facebook than anywhere else). If you wanna be ahead of the game, however, you should look at alternative strategies, experiential marketing and guerrilla campaigns: young Italians demand to be awed and wowed.

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She is a part-time digital nomad. She would go full-time, if only she could stay away from Berlin for long enough without pining for a Pretzel. She was born in Italy and she enjoys life as an expat, but visits home often enough and can still remember how to bake a perfect lasagna. She is passionate about writing, marketing, languages and the systematic demolition of cultural stereotypes.

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