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What is the hardest language to learn?

With over 10 million weekly visits, the bab.la community seems to be quite the bunch of language lovers! We were interested in learning more about the linguistic backgrounds as well as opinions of the people interacting with our site on a daily basis, and decided a survey would be just the thing to find out more about the bab.la community. Our hopes were to identify key statistics in order to share them and expand our resources on key areas where users either have difficulties or particular interest. With these findings we can better try to serve our user base, and you can see how others are similar or differ to you personally when it comes to languages with bab.la.

The participation was spectacular, almost exceeding the limit of total responses allowed! We are grateful for all of your participation and support with this research. If you are curious about the outcome too, here are the results! Continue reading →

Tell me how often you ‘Like’, I’ll tell you where you’re from: A cross-language comparison of the use of the Like button (2012 version)

Twelve months ago, we carried out a study about Facebook Likes across 13 languages to determine which speakers were the most inclined to click on Facebook’s omnipresent Like button. The results brought conclusive trends that revealed the gap between some speakers very spontaneously clicking and others more reluctant to do so. A year has passed and we have carried out the same analysis, with the addition of Danish, to get an overview of how these 2011 trends have evolved in a different direction or remained as they were. What’s your bet?

Before we strip the numbers, some points we would like to mention:

We gathered the Facebook likes since adding the functionality in April 2011 until August 2012. Like Buttons are gathered by language (bab.la operates by language subdomains).

The number of Internet users per country and Facebook users per country were taken from Internetworldstats. These are snapshots and quite recent numbers (December 2011 and March 2012 respectively) but they are not 100% accurate (we are comparing longitudinal Like button data with one-time user numbers). Nonetheless, we feel that the time frame considered is short enough to do this kind of comparison.

Our visitor numbers are based on Google Analytics. As we gathered the Like buttons by language we grouped the bab.la users this way as well. In some countries (such as Switzerland) many languages are spoken so we needed to make a choice which language group the country belonged to. We checked on the country level which language subdomain was used most and then added the country accordingly.

As we launched the Danish version of bab.la in October 2011, the Danish numbers suffer some slight disadvantage, yet it is still interesting to see how they are positioned among other languages.

Let’s see how many likes we’ve accumulated in 12 months:

 

Graph 1: Number of likes per language (August 2012)

Our sample consists of 21,817 likes as of August 2012 – over 4 times the amount we had a year ago (4,868 likes). Remember you can always compare the graphs with last year’s ones on the previous article.

So what’s new here? First of all Portuguese and Spanish have over taken the lead, leaving last year’s number one – English – on the third spot. There is also a huge decrease to notice from there on: the top  three languages have between 3,500 and 4,500 likes, leaving a huge gap to the next language – Polish – which gathers around 2,500 likes. Swedish and Dutch, albeit still rather small overtook Romanian and Japanese respectively compared to last year.

Let’s now have a glimpse of how many Internet users have a Facebook account:

 

Graph 2: Percentage of Facebook users per language (August 2012)

Turkish is still number one, far ahead of any other country. Spanish is still number two, while English speaking countries caught up on Italian ones. Newcomer Danish is a worth-mentioning number 5. Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal) reaches a whopping 55% this year, compared to 30% a year ago. German experienced an increase in similar proportions. Russian and Japanese are still to be conquered by Facebook, they shares are below 10% and still seem to be using respectively VK and Mixi more than Zuckerberg’s social network. Overall, Facebook is still on the increase for the past twelve months.

 

Graph 3: Number of unique visitors required per like (August 2012)

Using the data we have from of unique visitors over the given timeframe and the amount of likes across languages, we now know how many users we need to get one like. Russian is still the most clicking language; 1 like for each 825 unique visitor. Nonetheless significantly more than last year – about only 300 were needed. This trend can be observed in all languages: proportions are similar compared to last year, as are positions except for a few. It is becoming harder and harder to get users to like your product.

Next Romanian, English and Japanese are still rather willing to like, needing around 2,500 visitors for a like. Polish and Portuguese, which were in the top four last year are on the decrease, needing now over 3,000 users per like, twice as many compared to last year. Swedish is still the toughest crowd with over 7,000 unique visitors required to get a like, overtaking Dutch which was last year’s most reluctant language. Dutch, unlike most languages went drastically down from over 6,000 to 4,391 visitors. Danish is the third hardest crowd to please, just behind Turkish.

Towards a horizontalisation of clicking habits?

Table 1. Levels of difficulty to obtain Likes per language

On a scale from one to ten, how difficult is it to get a crowd to like you? A bit harder than last year on the overall, however the results are more homogenous. Russian is again the reference point (difficulty one, the weakest) and the difficulty extends to a mere 8.5 – last year it went up to beyond 16. As such, categories stand much closer to each other – spontaneous Likers (3-5 points), cool-headed Likers (5-6 points) and reluctant Likers (6 points and more). The largest amount of languages falls in the spontaneous category, while Italian, German, Dutch, French and Danish are more hesitant to click on the Like button. Finally, Turkish and especially Swedish are very reluctant “clickers”. The Italians and especially the Dutch are the communities that gained most clicking friendliness.

 

Graph 4: Facebook user penetration (% of total Internet users) compared to Like difficulty level in August 2011

 

Graph 5: Facebook user penetration (% of total Internet users) compared to Like difficulty level in August 2012

These two graphs display the development of the use of Facebook against the frequency in clicking the Like button. As mentioned earlier, the percentage of Internet users with a Facebook account is on the increase, with a few exceptions like French and Spanish speaking countries which seem to be more stable, even slightly down compared to last year. There also seems to be a normalisation in behaviour appearing across most languages: around 50% of Internet users are on Facebook and their clicking rates are a lot similar- between 3 and 6 on the difficulty scale – with the exception of Russia, Japan, Turkey and Sweden which have more atypical behaviours. In spite of its growing popularity in countries where it does not have the lion’s share, Facebook is still struggling to impose it product where other social media are already well implemented, like in Russia or in Japan. Korean and Hindi pages have so few likes that the data could not be used.

That evolution could be due to the fact that most Facebook users have a steadily better idea of how to click: informal norms have started to establish with the increasing presence of Like buttons on web pages.  Consequently a user will be more picky in its liking and it also knows that an excess of liked pages will generate a boring, overcrowded Timeline. Will this gap between language communities narrow further down next year? Likely, yet some cultural differences in use and preferences will hopefully prevail, avoiding the homogenisation of our social media habits.

John

How to tell whether your Facebook marketing is crap, average or great

It has become a very well-known marketing technique – if you have a business, you want it to have a Facebook page. Setting it up, adding exclusive features, gathering as many likes as you can and keep the dialogue with your audience alive and active.

And so you start posting pictures, videos, entertaining material, exclusive information, controversial statements to start a debate, and so on. Your amount of likes rises as should your “talking about” rate. Everything looks fine, yet some questions might dawn on you.

First of all you should know what that “talking about” means. According to Facebook, it is the sum of “users you have created a story from your post” – a story being a like, a share, a comment or an answer to an event. Now that this has been cleared up, a bigger question needs to be answered:

What is a good “talking about” rate?


In other words, at what point can you consider the amount of interaction satisfying? Facebook does not tell you that.

This is why we decided to lead our own inquiry and compare 12 major brands (BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, Facebook, Starbucks, McDonald’s, PlayStation, iTunes, HP, Subway, EA Sports, Nivea) which have the particularity to have several Facebook pages: one for every language or country. We checked their number of likes and “talking about” rates on three dates (24th January, 31st January and 7th February 2012), calculated their ratios and established an average of these.

The ideal “talking about” figure or number of likes?

It seems that even if you have a brilliant online media specialist running your page, having more than 1,000,000 likes renders it challenging to reach high “talking about” rates – between 1% and 3% with the exception of the American page of McDonald’s that exceeds 5%. A previous study had already proven that large pages (over a million likes) have more trouble reaching their “likers”.

On the other side, the highest ratios “talking about” number of likes are reached by pages with less than 100,000 likes, higher even when they have less than 10,000 likes. They manage to score 10 to almost 20% with the exception of the Polish Audi page that scores an astounding 44% with a mere 4,000 likes.

In a nutshell it seems you should not aim for quantity, but for quality. It is better to have fewer faithful committed fans than a large pool of likes that does not interact with you.

So does a high number of likes really imply a lower talking about rate?

We did some correlation analysis to check what the statistics would tell us. There are two possibilities:
1. The number of “talking about” increases at the same rate as the number of likes, or in statistical terms: There is a linear relationship.
2. The number of “talking about” slows down the higher the number of likes gets, or in statistical terms: There is a non-linear relationship.

Calculating both options we get a correlation of 0,96 for option 1 (using the Bravais Pearson correlation coefficient) and 0,87 for option 2 (using Spearman’s Rho). Both coefficients can rank between 0 (no correlation) to 1 (perfect correlation). Hence both options have a high statistical correlation: Based on the numbers we cannot say for sure which assumption is correct. If you think this sucks (we did) just scroll all the way to the end and fill out the survey (this helps us gather more data so we can do a better analysis).

The “talking about” vs. “likes” data in a graph

Is your targeted country a factor?

As we pointed out in our first Facebook study, some countries are more inclined to liking a page than others. What about interaction then?

The final figure is 5.79% (for our sample) – that is the average percentage “talking about” per number of likes, all countries taken together. However, the average differs from one country to another. If your page targets a Polish audience, the average is above 10% – the Poles are more faithful fans than other countries. Brazilian and French audiences are fairly willing to participate as well: both scored over 5%. Spain is right behind with 4.75%. Then come the tough crowds – Germany and Italy only get 3.92% and 3.57% respectively. The American/general page is last with 2.60%. This might have different reasons such as how many brands an average user in that country likes – the more brands, the less time for interaction with each brand.

So, by now you know that “talking about” rates differ by country and possibly by the number of likes. But wouldn’t it be cool to have some comparison data for your industry? We thought so as well, so we created a survey to do a more in-depth analysis including Reach and Virality data from Facebook Insights – finding out what good rates are, what your target should be, etc.

In order to do so, we need YOUR help! We would like to invite you to fill out a 10-question anonymous survey that only takes 5 minutes (we used a stop watch to make sure) to complete.

You can find the online survey by clicking on the URL below:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/facebook-insights

We will list all participating companies with a link below (if they want) in order to boost results. The following companies are participating:
Dublin’s Q102: More music. Less talk.
Bonprix: Fashion, shoes and homeware at unbeatable prices.
Hitmeister: 100% secure buying and selling.
WHU: Otto Beisheim School of Management.
Netmoms: Babies, kids and pregnancy.
OnlineMarketingJobs: The best Jobs for SEO, SEA and online marketing.
Loftville: My key to the best apartments in the city.
Tatort News: The weblog to Germany’s most successful crime show.

In order to get listed, send us an email to Stefanie [at] bab[dot]la

Like, Me gusta, Gefällt mir, Mi piace: A cross-language comparison on the use of the Facebook Like button

We all know what an integral part social media has become on the web. And the Like button is probably the most prominent example of how easy it is to “integrate” social media activities in your website. So after our last two introductory guides on online marketing (a Twitter guide and a Social Media Monitoring guide) we decided to crunch some numbers and share some statistics on the use of the Facebook Like button across languages with you. As our language portal is available (and used) in 19 different languages we are in the unique position to compare the exact same offering across languages.

Before we dig into the numbers, some points to consider:

  • We gathered the Facebook Likes of our online dictionaries since adding the functionality in spring this year until August 31. Like Buttons are gathered by language (bab.la operates by language subdomains).
  • The number of Internet users per country and Facebook users per country were taken from Internetworldstats. These are snapshots and quite recent numbers (March and June 2011 respectively) but they are not 100% accurate (we are comparing longitudinal Like button data with one-time user numbers). Nonetheless, we feel that the time frame considered is short enough to do this kind of comparison.
  • Our visitor numbers are based on Google Analytics. As we gathered the Like buttons by language we grouped the bab.la users this way as well. In some countries (such as Switzerland) many languages are spoken so we needed to make a choice which language group the country belonged to. We checked on the country level which language subdomain was used most and then added the country accordingly.

Now, let’s take a look at the numbers. This first graph shows us raw data – how many Likes we have per language. As we can see, Spanish, Portuguese and English each have over 700 Likes: they are the largest communities. At the far end, Japanese and Dutch have less than 50 Likes. However, these figures, albeit necessary, are limited in relevance, as they do not take into consideration the percentage of Facebook users in each language community.

Graph 1: Number of Likes per dictionaries according to language

The second graph is essential to find out the results this study is looking to find out. What we can read here is the percentage of Internet users registered to Facebook per language community. Among the most interesting results, it is to be noticed that the Turkish speaking Internet users have been widely seduced by Facebook – close the 85% of them are registered to it. Among Spanish, Italian and English speakers, nearly two thirds are on Facebook. Among the weaker markets, Russia and Japan are lagging behind as only ~8% and ~4% of the respective amount of Internet users have signed up to Facebook. The Japanese most successful social medium is Mixi while Russian speakers used widely VK; hence the weaker Facebook share in these languages.

Graph 2: Percentage of Facebook users per language (as of June 2011)

So which language has the most engaged users?
These are the first exclusive results we can analyse from our study. While we previously determined that the percentage of Russian Internet users registered at Facebook is very weak compared to other languages, that small amount is very active and inclined to like a page: every 377 visitor will like one of our dictionaries. The next most liking language community is already quite far behind with one like every 1,452 visitor and it is Polish. Third comes Japanese, which like Russian is a small yet dynamic Facebook community. Among the most reluctant language communities to like pages are the Italians, the Swedes and finally the Dutch. They respectively give one like every 4,795, 5,583 and 6,109 visitor, even though Facebook is widely used in these countries. This is especially true for Italy where over 65% of Internet users are Facebook members.

Graph 3: Number of visitors required per Like

How do Likes compare across languages?
As we have a very specific service offering we “restructured” the data a bit. This way it’s easier to interpret the results for your business:
Taking Russian as reference for the level of difficulty to get Likes, we obtain the following results:

Table 1: Levels of difficulty to obtain Likes per language

We have divided the language communities into three categories: spontaneous Likers (3-7 points), cool-headed Likers (8-11 points) and reluctant Likers (12 points and more).

As mentioned, the Russian speaking community is by far the most inclined to like a lot, in spite of the limited influence of Facebook. Similarly, Polish, Japanese and Portuguese click on the Like button quite willingly, although less than a third of the Internet users are Facebook registered members. At the bottom of the table Swedish and Italian are major users of Facebook (over 50% of Internet users), however it they are quite reluctant to click on the Like button. Similarly, Spanish, French and Turkish communities have numerous registered Facebook users, especially Turkish and Spanish, respectively ranking 1st and 2nd. Nonetheless, these are cool-headed Likers and it takes an extra effort to have them liking on Facebook, in spite of the craze the social medium has been. Dutch is the only exception to this trend – they do give very few clicks per page; however Facebook is not as widely used in the Netherlands (barely 30%of Internet users).

How do Likes compare across languages?
The result of this analysis is that the more Facebook is used in a country, the harder it is to get the users to click on Facebook Like button. Smaller communities, on the other hand, do it significantly more spontaneously. We see three possible explanations:

1. The usage of the Like button is different across countries and languages.
2. Early adopters are more likely to click on Like, the late majority more hesitant.
3. As Russia, Japan and Brazil have strong national social networks, people with an interest in foreign countries and languages are more likely to use Facebook as their international social network. And those people are more likely to “like” a language portal.

We have plotted the number of Facebook users (as a percentage of total Internet users) against the difficulty level. If one takes out Russia, Japan and Brazil, there is no apparent pattern. Further taking out Dutch and Turkish (as outliers) there seems to be a slight upwards trend in the difficulty level the more Facebook users there are. So explanation 2 seems to get some (albeit mixed) support. Explanation 1 seems to be most likely. We therefore conclude that the engagement with the Like button is different amongst languages and countries.

Graph 4: Facebook user penetration (% of total Internet users) compared to Like difficulty level

We hope you enjoyed our little analysis. We’d gladly hear your thoughts. Maybe you even did your own analysis? Share your feedback in the comments below!

John Barré