Private so-called social networks (Internet-based platforms for uploading and sharing digital content) are very popular with German Internet users. Around 50 percent of participants in the study are members of on average 2.7 of these networks. In the reference group of the digital avant-garde, 68 percent reported membership in a private social network. In the cross-country comparison, Great Britain comes out on top, where 61 percent of all those surveyed are members of a private social network (see Figure 11).
The main reasons for respondents joining private social networks are perhaps unsurprising: 78 percent of those surveyed said they registered because their friends were also members. Accordingly, the second most important reason for membership given by 65 percent of the respondents was the wish to stay in contact with friends. This was followed by 60 percent saying they use the sites as a means of entertainment and passing time. Around 41 percent registered out of pure curiosity, while a further 40 percent access the platforms as a means of exchanging and sharing content with friends (see Figure 12).
As an example of this, every fourth user uploads photos to these platforms “frequently” or “regularly” (see Figure 13). Video content is placed online more rarely, however, with just 10 percent of German users doing so regularly. The cross-country comparison suggests that particularly uploading and sharing photos will increase in the future: in France, almost 40 percent of users currently do so, while in the USA 45 percent already do this and in South Korea and the digital avant-garde group this figure even reaches 47 percent, so almost every second user regularly or frequently uploads photos and shares them with their friends (see Figure 14).
Overall, the most popular social networking functions being used are those that are used to communicate, i.e. chat tools, writing on friends’ walls, and commenting on other people’s contributions.
Social networks are also employed in the professional sphere: in Germany almost 16 percent of respondents are members of on average 1.4 business social networks. In the digital avant-garde cluster, around 26 percent, already more than one in four, stay in contact with business associates through these networks. In the cross-country comparison, Great Britain once again heads the international league table, with 22 percent of those surveyed stating that they are members of business networks. Each of these users is a member of on average 2.5 networks.