The Ultimate Social Media Guide for the German Market

Irene Waltz-OppertshäuserSocial Media Marketing

social media guide for germany

Social networks are a great way to reach consumers and end customers. Planning to do social media marketing in Germany in 2017? Here’s what you need to know.

Over 85% of all adult Germans are online, according to a recent study performed by German public television companies ARD and ZDF. Key fact for social media marketing in Germany: Only about half of German onliners are on social, much fewer than in other European countries.

Where to reach them? Here is your social media guide for Germany in 2017:

Facebook in Germany: Growing strong

% of German onliners who use Facebook weekly: 

  • trend: 
  • total: 41%
  • women: 42%
  • men: 40%
  • 14-29 yrs: 70%
  • 30-49 yrs: 46%
  • 50-69 yrs: 21%
  • 70+ yrs: 6%

(data: Oct 2016, ARD/ZDF Onlinestudie)

Facebook is the most popular social network in Germany, and active user numbers are up in all age groups from 2015. Official numbers released at the time said Facebook has 28 million registered users in Germany, 21 million of which log in on a daily basis.

Marketing takeaway for Facebook in Germany: 

If you want to reach consumers directly via social, Facebook is your best bet in Germany – in all age groups.

Facebook is your best bet for reaching a large consumer audience in Germany.

Instagram in Germany: A young person’s game

% of German onliners who use Instagram weekly:  

  • trend: 
  • total: 11%
  • women: 11%
  • men: 11%
  • 14-29 yrs: 37%
  • 30-49 yrs: 4%
  • 50-69 yrs: 1%
  • 70+ yrs: 0%

(data: Oct 2016, ARD/ZDF Onlinestudie)

Instagram is continuing its rise in Germany, numbers were up from 7% in 2015 to 11% in 2016. Most remarkable is the age group of 14-29 year olds where user numbers jumped from 21% in 2015 to 37% in 2016. Official numbers released by the company say Instagram has 9 million registered users in Germany.

Marketing takeaway for Instagram in Germany:

With the new Instagram Business Tools released earlier in 2016, this network is fast becoming an attractive playground for brands and marketers. If you’re targeting millenials, Instagram can be just the right choice for you in Germany.

Targeting German millenials? Go with Instagram.

Snapchat in Germany: Old farts stay out

% of German onliners who use Snapchat weekly: 

  • trend: 
  • total: 6%
  • women: 7%
  • men: 6%
  • 14-29 yrs: 23%
  • 30-49 yrs: 1%
  • 50-69 yrs: 1%
  • 70+ yrs: 0%

(data: Oct 2016, ARD/ZDF Onlinestudie)

Snapchat has started strong in Germany. That is, with German youngsters. Whilst a whopping 23% of onliners between the ages of 14-29 years use Snapchat weekly, only 1% of people ages 30-69 have ventured onto this network of ephemeral content.

If you want to venture onto Snapchat, be aware that this network is not permeated by brands the same way Facebook is. In a recent survey 81% of Snapchat users said they don’t follow any brand or company on Snapchat.

Marketing takeaway for Snapchat in Germany:

Snapchat only recently introduced Geofilters and Lenses for Germany – and both are accepted and seen as non-intrusive by users. So if you have youngsters in sight, now is a good time to get on board and give it a go in Germany. You just might be among the first big success stories with Snapchat marketing in Germany.

Use non-intrusive Snapchat lenses and geofilters to target youngsters in Germany.

Twitter in Germany: A niche full of testosterone

% of German onliners who use Twitter weekly:

  • trend:
  • total: 5%
  • women: 2%
  • men: 7%
  • 14-29 yrs: 8%
  • 30-49 yrs: 5%
  • 50-69 yrs: 3%
  • 70+ yrs: 0%

(data: Oct 2016, ARD/ZDF Onlinestudie)

Twitter continues to be a niche network in Germany. Usage leveled out in Germany with a slight growth from 4% in 2015 to 5% in 2016.

You might be surprised to learn that there is only one member of the German cabinet, namely minister of justice Heiko Maas, who has a Twitter account. Chancellor Angela Merkel has stayed away from the network and it doesn’t look like she’s going to jump on board – and neither do her fellow female Germans: Women seem to have left the network, whilst Twitter is slightly more popular with men.

Twitter itself says 12 million users visit the site monthly, a number which should be taken with a big chunk of salt, as people can see tweets without being logged in. An earlier study from 2015 showed there were only around 3 million Twitter accounts in Germany, with slightly less than 1 million being active accounts – which is probably closer to the truth.

Marketing takeaway for Twitter in Germany:

Twitter can be helpful in Germany for reaching certain multipliers such as journalists who may use it as a research tool. If you want to reach a broader audience directly, better focus on one of the other networks.

Use Twitter to reach multipliers Germany, but don’t expect to get the same results as in other markets.

XING in Germany: The German LinkedIn

% of German onliners who use XING weekly:

  • trend: 
  • total: 3%
  • women: 2%
  • men: 4%
  • 14-29 yrs: 5%
  • 30-49 yrs: 3%
  • 50-69 yrs: 3%
  • 70+ yrs: 0%

(data: Oct 2016, ARD/ZDF Onlinestudie)

XING is the German business network founded four years before LinkedIn. In 2016, the company touted its biggest user growth ever in Q3, with over 11 million XING members in the DACH region of Germany, Austria, Switzerland. Quite a different picture from what the ARD/ZDF survey found, namely that slightly fewer people are actively using the network, namely 3% of onliners, down from 4% in 2015.

Compare this to the US, where a whopping 29% of all online adults say they use rival LinkedIn.

The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle and in the way XING is used: For most people, the network is chiefly a recruiting tool – and XING’s revenue distribution underlines this. That is, people register when they are looking for a job, and then don’t come back once they’ve found one.

While XING has added a program for influencer content and business advertising tools in 2016, both functionality of and activity on these offerings lag far behind what LinkedIn does in comparable fields.

Marketing takeaway for Xing in Germany: 

If you’re looking to hire German professionals, XING can be a good place to start. Don’t put too many hopes into B2B marketing, B2B tools lag behind. Xing may change either way in the coming years as offerings evolve – or people move to LinkedIn. We’ll keep you posted.

Xing is the only German social network left. Use for recruiting only.

LinkedIn in Germany: Ready for take-off

% of German onliners who use LinkedIn weekly:

  • trend: 
  • total: 1%
  • women: 0%
  • men: 2%
  • 14-29 yrs: 2%
  • 30-49 yrs: 1%
  • 50-69 yrs: 1%
  • 70+ yrs: 0%

(data: Oct 2016, ARD/ZDF Onlinestudie)

LinkedIn has been growing strong in other countries, and the company reported 8 million LinkedIn users in the DACH region in 2016.

When looking at active users, however, the picture is different: Only 1% of German onliners report using the network on a weekly basis, even fewer than the mellow 2% of a year before.

Although there are a few German-language groups on LinkedIn, the network is still primarily English, and you’ll find profiles in English from more internationally-minded German professionals here.

Marketing takeaway for LinkedIn in Germany: 

For B2B marketing, LinkedIn’s advertising and content marketing tools may help you reach a part of your German audience. Don’t expect the same reach and results as in Anglo-Saxon business cultures, though. Also keep in mind that German business leaders are typically much less open to being approached by strangers via social channels than you might be used to.

Find more internationally-minded professionals on LinkedIn in Germany.

Pinterest in Germany: A good way to reach older females

While the company announced in late 2015 that user numbers had tripled in Germany, absolute numbers are hard to come by. Pinterest only released a total of 100 m users worldwide. If we look at Facebook, we can approximate German user numbers: Out of 1.65 bn Facebook users worldwide, 28 m are in Germany, or sligthly under 2%. Applying a similar ratio to Pinterest, we can assume there are roughly 2 million Pinterest users in Germany.

Pinterest seems to be used primarily by women, and also in the age groups of 30-49 year olds and above.

Marketing takeaway for Pinterest in Germany: 

With its focus on visual and esthetics, Pinterest is an alternative to Instagram for design and fashion and all other brands with a strong focus on the visual. Which one of these you choose depends on the age group  you want to target.

If your brand targets females beyond Millenials, try Pinterest in Germany.

Google+ in Germany: Remains in the niche

What can we say – how many users Google+ really has remains a mystery. Worldwide activity has declined, and it’s safe to say the same is true for Germany. That said, the service can still be valuable in specific niches like photography enthusiasts.

Other Social Networks in Germany:

In the recent past, quite a few German social networks came on the scene and were able to enjoy a certain amount of success. Of those, however, only Xing remains alive and kicking.

studivz, which started as a Facebook clone and was once highly popular among students in Germany, is now mostly a data cemetery. was shut down in 2014 after reaching 2 million active users in 2013. And the latest casualty is, which was closed down in September 2016 after user numbers plunged from 2 million to 50,000.

Social Media guide for Germany in a nutshell: What you need to know for your marketing

  • In general, Germans remain reluctant to use social media. Don’t expect to get the same results from your social media campaigns as in other markets
  • Younger people are more active, their favorites being Snapchat and Instagram
  • Facebook has the biggest reach of all social networks in Germany, across all age groups
  • For recruiting, consider using Xing, the German rival of LinkedIn



Irene Waltz-Oppertshäuser - social media guide germany

Irene Waltz-Oppertshäuser is a digital marketer and partner with Marketinghelfer Digital Marketing Agency Berlin.

She helps international companies reach their German audience via social and other marketing channels and acquire customers and clients in Germany.

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