Dutch Fond Of Social Technologies, But Why?

Above: Social Technographics of Netherlands, see other global data for free at Forrester’s Technographics Profile Tool, for our clients we can cut this data in a variety of ways by role, region, and sometimes affinity.

Social Technographics Reveal Dutch Adopt More Than Neighbors
I’m an American social computing analyst in the Netherlands –which gives me a unique perspective to peer into the adoption and culture of social networks.

I’m here in the center of Amsterdam, overlooking a canal. Yesterday, I presented the above social technographics of the Netherlands at the Corporate Social Networking Conference, and talked about the future of the social web, MarketingFacts live blogged it in Dutch, but you can try the Google Translator (although I’m told the translation gives some comedic interpretations). Although the Netherlands are a smaller country compared to many, their adoption of social technologies is significantly higher than their neighbors –and many other cultures across the web.

[Social Technographics reveal that 39% of Dutch adopt social network technologies (joiner behavior) which is more than twice that of the European average of 18%]

Last night, I met Patrick, the founder of a European social media blog The Next Web, (smaller, but similar to Techcrunch), and Raymond, the founder of Hyves, the most popular Dutch social network. We discussed why the Dutch have an affinity towards social technologies on the local news (called BNR) listen in to this 23 minute clip of social networking in Netherlands. Apparently, I was the first to bring this program to be spoken in English rather than Dutch, I wonder how the loyal listeners will react.

Test Driving Hyves, A Dutch Social Network
For my research, I interviewed Raymond last night, one of the Hyves founders, I learned this SNS was founded in 2004, and was inspired by Google’s Orkut, he mentioned Cyworld a few times, also a regional SNS from South Korea. I learned that up 50% of the Dutch population could be on Hyves (although some may have double accounts) for a total of 8 million accounts of a total population of 16 million, and 60% of the Dutch population visits the site at least monthly. Brands are waking up to this, and there have been marketing efforts from Unilever, KPN, Vodafone, and Bacardi.

I’ve created a Hyves account (Hyves, like in bee “Hyve”) to learn more about how these tools are being used, if you’re already on, you can add me as a friend and I’ll add you back. A few key features that are interesting: There’s a way to enter your license plate number, and search for others. Secondly, a premium feature you can pay for is to have some abilities to have analytics, and see who’s looking at your profile. This network appears to be geared towards a younger generation that wants to socialize and connect, although the numbers suggest it’s gone mainstream across many age groups.

Potential Factors to Social Technology Adoption
With the Dutch population being so active with social technologies, I have to ask why, and make some comparisons to cultures like Japan, South Korea, and US where adoption continues to grow. Not being an expert at Dutch culture, I have to wonder if the following factors come into play to any culture:

  • Strong web based infrastructure, availability of high speed networks and access to wireless.
  • Mobile based culture where most citizens have smart phone devices with web surfing ability.
  • A culture and government that encourages independent thought and freedom of expression.
  • Social acceptance of sharing, learning and collaboration.
  • It would be rude for me to assert any cultural observations, so if you’re Dutch, I’d like to hear your opinion. What else would you add to these proposed criteria, or does each culture have a unique set of factors that governs its social technology adoption?

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