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Belgium : Which social networks are most used by Dutch and French speakers? (survey)

French speakers are much more active on the main social networks than Dutch speakers. Here are the latest figures from the Centre d’Information des Médias (CIM) that show this…

Proportionally, French speakers over 12 years old are more active than Dutch speakers on 8 of the 10 main social platforms.

This is one of the main findings of the Establishment Survey (ES) conducted for the CIM by Profacts, among 5,806 people (3,258 Dutch speakers and 2,548 French speakers), face-to-face (80%) and online (20%), between July 2021 and the end of June 2022 (read the complete methodology, PDF of 23 pages, in french).

According to the results of this study published at the end of October 2022, French speakers over 12 years old are indeed :

  • 69.5% to have used Facebook in the last 30 days, against 63.5% of Dutch speakers
  • 66.9% to have used YouTube in the last 30 days, compared to 50.5% of Dutch speakers
  • 23.4% to have used Snapchat in the last 30 days, compared to 15.4% of Dutch speakers
  • 22.3% to report having used TikTok in the past 30 days, compared to 16.4% of Dutch speakers
  • 19.5% to have used Pinterest in the last 30 days, compared to 17.5% of Dutch speakers
  • 14.4% to report having used LinkedIn in the past 30 days, compared to 14.2% of Dutch speakers
  • 15.2% to report using Twitter in the past 30 days, compared to 11.4% of Dutch speakers
  • 9.3% report having used Discord in the past 30 days, compared to 7% of Dutch speakers
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French speakers love YouTube

The largest standard deviation between French and Dutch speakers is on YouTube, with 16.4 percentage points!

Other video streaming platforms, such as Netflix and Disney+, also proposed to the respondents by the CIM, have much smaller differences.

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The gap is 4.7 points for Netflix, used by 40.7% of Francophones over 12 in the last 30 days, and 2.1 points for Disney+, used in the last month by 13% of Francophones surveyed. 

Instagram and Reddit used more by Dutch speakers

Only Instagram and Reddit are used more by Dutch speakers than French speakers. 

Indeed, 39.5% of Dutch speakers over the age of 12 said they were active on Instagram in the last 30 days, compared to 38.8% of French speakers. And 5.8% of Dutch speakers said they had used Reddit in the past 30 days, compared to 4.5% of French speakers.

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Regional differences

The linguistic differences observed thanks to this survey are obviously correlated to regional differences, Brussels being predominantly populated by French speakers.

Thus, in Flanders, the social networks most frequented by the over 12s are, in order:

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  • Facebook: 64.2
  • YouTube : 51%
  • Instagram: 39.6
  • Pinterest: 17.3% of all users
  • TikTok: 16.4
  • Snapchat: 15.4
  • LinkedIn: 14.1
  • Twitter: 11.3
  • Discord: 7.2% of the total
  • Reddit: 5.8%

In Wallonia, the ranking diverges somewhat: 

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  • Facebook : 69,5%
  • YouTube : 66.9% of the total
  • Instagram : 36% of the users
  • Snapchat : 24.8
  • TikTok : 21,6% of the total
  • Pinterest: 19.3
  • Twitter: 13.7
  • LinkedIn: 12.6
  • Discord: 9% of the total
  • Reddit: 3.9%

Finally, in Brussels, in the 19 municipalities, here is the order of social platform use by people over 12 years old:

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  • YouTube: 67.3%
  • Facebook: 66.7%
  • Instagram: 46.5%
  • TikTok: 25.5%
  • Pinterest: 22%
  • Snapchat: 20.7%
  • Twitter: 20.8%
  • LinkedIn: 20.4%
  • Discord: 9.7%
  • Reddit: 6%

Here are the 10 most used social networks in Belgium

According to the same study, the 10 most frequented social networks by Belgians over 12 years old during the last month (« MAU », for « Monthly Average User »), regardless of their language or region, are :

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  • Facebook: 66.1%, i.e. 6.65 million Belgians over 12 years old
  • YouTube: 57.7%, or 5.81 million Belgians over 12 years old
  • Instagram: 39.2%, or 3.94 million Belgians over 12 years old
  • TikTok: 19%, or 1.91 million Belgians over 12 years old
  • Snapchat: 18.9%, or 1.9 million Belgians over 12 years old
  • Pinterest: 18.4%, or 1.85 million Belgians over 12 years old
  • LinkedIn: 14.3%, or 1.44 million Belgians over 12 years old
  • Twitter: 13.1%, or 1.32 million Belgians over 12 years old
  • Discord: 8%, or 0.81 million Belgians over 12 years old
  • Reddit: 5.2%, or 0.52 million Belgians over 12 years old
  • Note the absence of WhatsApp, Messenger and Twitch in this CIM ranking.

Gender differences?

If we can regret a binary approach to the notion of gender in this study as in so many others, it nevertheless allows us to identify some trends… also observed internationally.

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And in particular that :

  • « Mainstream » platforms (Facebook, Instagram…) are more frequented by women than by men
  • Niche » social networks, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, are mostly frequented by men
  • YouTube is clearly more male than female
  • Pinterest is still very much female

Rare data

All the data made public by the CIM will undoubtedly be precious for social network specialists (social media managers, community managers…) and, more generally, for digital marketing professionals.

It is because they are rather rare…

On a small territory like Belgium, few players are willing to invest in a survey of this size and quality. And even fewer to share the results.

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Xavier Degraux

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