As the major social networks are working their way into Europe, interesting news about localization features keep popping up my feed reader and mail inbox. The two major headlines today: Facebook launches a German version and LinkedIn is partnering up with a big French job listing service.
The one million German speaking Facebook users now have access to an interface in their own language. I’m sure they appreciate that, since the German voice-over business has been a booming industry since the rise of television. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that 2000 German users voluntarily fixed the translating job in less than two weeks.
It’s only the third language version of Facebook. The choice for a German version is kind of weird if you consider the fact that Germany or other German speaking countries are not listed in the top 10 countries for Facebook users. After the United States, Britain is number two with 8 million active users and Canada is third with 7 million users. Turkey is fourth, followed by Australia, France and Sweden. So if you just consider the user numbers, Turkey would have been a more logical choice. Yet Germans have more money to spend, and in that light, a French version will probably be next.
In that country, LinkedIn did a pretty good job expanding their market reach. TechCrunch reports that they partnered up with Apec.fr, a job listing site that claims they have about 1.2 million unique monthly visitors, 600,000 registered users and 35,000 registered companies. Those users can now register for LinkedIn and start using the service without leaving the French interface of Apec. If I were working at European LinkedIn competitors Viadeo and Xing, I’d be scared.
The way LinkedIn and Facebook approach Europe – just offer language support – is pretty effective. One of Europe’s largest social networks Netlog can certainly confirm that. They hired two two Turkish students to translate the service for a 1000 dollars. It took the students a week, four months later the Turkish version had 2.5 million users.
Yet I prefer the MySpace approach. They are already based in France, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and soon in Russia and Turkey. When they launch, they install a local team who knows what’s hot and what’s not in the country and throw a great party. I’d thought I would never say this about a company owned by Murdoch but here we go: It feels like MySpace respects the cultural differences more and really wants to make an effort. I hope it will pay off.
Read this post by Patrick de Laive about possible Facebook acquisitions in Europe.