According to this Danish newspaper article there are two million Facebook users in Denmark (population: 5,5 Million) but only 28,000 Twitter users of which only 416 are serious tweeters.
It doesn’t surprise me at all, but I don’t agree with all the reasons given in the article. They include:
1: The very high percentage of Danish Facebook users
I am not convinced Facebook and Twitter exclude the use of each other. They serve to different purposes.
2: The difficulty in communicating in 140 letters
While I appriciate some languages can convey more in 140 characters the Danish language does not provide a bigger barrier than most languages. I’d say it is on par with English and easier than German.
3: Danes do not need an alternative news channel
However, I do agree with this statement:
Danes do not need an alternative news channel.
Danish people have always had enough in themselves and in Denmark. In general they rarely seem interested in the global community and crave local/Danish news more than anything else. They are a bit like Hobbits in that sense:
Keep your nose out of trouble and no trouble will come to you.
This behaviour is actually quite similar to teenagers who generally don’t see the point in Twitter either. To them it is too broad, too global and as such not relevant enough for their defined and limited environment (ie. school, friends etc). I have noticed that when hobbies enter the scene teenagers do appear on Twitter, but other than that, Twitter doesn’t have a lot to offer teenagers.
So is that it? Is the answer really Danes do not care about anybody else but themselves?…
Secret option 4: What language does Danes tweet?
Digging a bit deeper it turns that the survey concerns tweets with Danish content rather than tweets written by Danish people.
This makes a massive difference. Denmark is a small country and not a lot of people speak Danish in the world. To counteract this Danes are taught English from an early age and even before that we are fed English/American TV with subtitles rather than with Danish voice over.
Writing tweets written in Danish defies the purpose of Twitter as a global forum. You instantly limit the reach of your tweets to only Danish speaking people which means the response you get is not representative of the collective knowledge on Twitter.
To get the full value of Twitter you need to reach as many as possible and to do that you need to use a language use more widely on a global scale. The Danes get that. Ofcourse they do.
416 is a funky number for a headline but I do not believe it represents the reality of seriously tweeting Danes of which many (possibly most) participate in the global conversation by tweeting in English.