If your brand isn’t already using social media in France, it should be. Here’s how to get it right – and your French creative juices flowing.

France’s relationship with social media is complicated.

In terms of internet users, it’s the fourth largest country in Europe, and social media penetration is relatively high at 58%.

The landscape is similar to the UK and US. The most popular platforms are YouTube and Facebook at 69% and 65% respectively, while younger female audiences prefer Instagram.

Interestingly, the French vary their social media use throughout the day. They search Facebook over their croissant and coffee in the morning, as well as just before bed. But Twitter and Instagram are reserved as lunchtime treats.

Social media in France should be fertile land for engaging and connecting with customers.

But it hasn’t been until now. French brands and SMEs are late adopters of social media – and many still aren’t active on the platforms.

This means the field is open for you. But be careful. You’ll need to take some significant differences in the French mentality into account.


First and foremost, the French value privacy. 91% of people in France believe data protection is important. And in recent years, tech companies and French politicians have clashed repeatedly over how best to deal with it.

Because of this desire for privacy, the government has taken steps to discourage social media use. From September 2018, mobile phones are banned in schools, and the words ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’ are forbidden on TV and radio. Children can even sue their parents for posting pictures of them on social media.

There are also several laws governing how you’re allowed to market your brand. For example, you can only use English in your advertisements if it’s accompanied by a French translation. This touches on another sore point for the French – the encroachment of English on French language and culture.

This means the French are used to experiencing the two languages alongside each other. Which could explain why they prefer videos to be subtitled, not dubbed – an important point to note for your social media strategy.


So French companies need to jump through a lot of hoops to build their social media presence. And because they’re incentivized to stay small, they often don’t have enough people to man their social media accounts. (Find out why in our upcoming blog on French consumer behaviour.) As a result, many companies just don’t bother – and those that do, often just hand this responsibility to the intern.

Interestingly, it’s not just social media that’s affected. The ‘Right to Disconnect’, launched by the government in 2017, means French employees aren’t allowed to receive work emails outside of working hours. This limits the exposure time for brands – so only 28% of French companies use email marketing campaigns.

Despite all these obstacles, online and social media advertising is growing. In 2016, digital ad spending surpassed TV for the first time in France. Social advertising made up 38% of this.

Because although there are challenges, there is a growing opportunity too. And with so little competition, now is the best time to establish yourself on social media in France.

But how? Here are three great examples to get your creative juices flowing.


1. Ricoré

Coffee brand Ricoré found a creative way to engage with their customers using Facebook Messenger. The idea was simple: tell the Facebook bot when you want to wake up in the morning. Then, Ricoré will send you a cute video or funny gif to wake up to. The endearing campaign allowed the brand to engage with customers right before their morning coffee, putting it front and foremost in their mind.

2. La semaine du goût & Spontex

La semaine du goût’ – the Week of Taste in English – brought many food brands to social media to show off the tastiest and best looking food they could offer.

Sponge brand Spontex used Facebook to capitalize on this by showing their hedgehog mascot cleaning all the dishes. Take a look at these examples:

The unusual strategy differentiated the brand from traditional cleaning product campaigns, positioning it as a fun, modern brand.


In 2016, IKEA launched their Retail Therapy campaign. They identified the most popular Google search terms related to relationship and family problems. Then, they renamed their products accordingly.

The result? A ‘my partner snores’ daybed, ‘how to say I’m not interested’ garlic press and ‘how to get a girl to like you’ oven.

Technically, this wasn’t a French social media campaign. But the funny initiative generated so much social media chatter for the brand in France that several news outlets reported on it, including France 24. A localized campaign for France would be a sure-fire success.

The take-home message from all these examples is that creativity counts. The French respond well to fun, engaging campaigns – so don’t be afraid to take a risk.


Although there are challenges, social media in France is ripe with potential. With a large audience and very little competition, the right campaign could launch your brand into the French market.

Want to know more about building the perfect French social media campaign? Check out our approach here, then get in touch – we’d love to help.


Photo by Pierre Herman on Unsplash

ABOUT Jonny Simpson

I make sure English content is excellent. And I'll write, edit, proofread and translate for that to happen. I believe the most impactful content combines useful, culturally relevant information with compelling copy, and I've seen great results with Ermenegildo Zegna and Maserati.

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