(U//FOUO) U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Hungary

The following report is part of a series of Social Media Landscape guides produced by the U.S. Department of State for its U.S.- European Media Hub which is described as connecting “European audiences with U.S. policymakers and perspectives.” The Media Hub, which is located in Brussels, Belgium, is part of the International Media Engagement Office of the U.S. Department of State.  The report was produced in January 2010.  See also:

U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: France
U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Latvia
U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Spain
U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Belarus
U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Belgium
U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Italy
U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Romania
U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Norway

For USG Official Use Only

Social Media Landscape: Hungary

I.               Hungary at a glance

  • Improvements in infrastructure are encouraging social media use
  • Law enforcement agencies are actively targeting online fraud and corruption
  • Political parties are prolific in their use of social media platforms, adoption rates are lower amongst corporate
  • User patterns follow the majority of European countries; youth demographics dominate the online population

II.              Executive Summary

Improvements in infrastructure and access in Hungary over the last decade have encouraged considerable increases in Internet access and with that, an exploration of social media.

Currently, Internet access is just below the EU average but is heavily focused around Budapest and other large cities, while the rural population remains largely digitally excluded. That said, government-backed initiatives to improve access in rural areas are ongoing. Internet access is also greater amongst those with a higher education and / or employed in the service industries. In turn, a gender divide is also apparent in Hungary’s Internet access as a result of lower levels of employment amongst women.

The 15-24 age group and students are leading the digital movement in Hungary, aided by government initiatives which have focused on providing IT education and equipment to schools. It is this demographic that is largely responsible for the popularity of social networking, primarily conducted on local platforms in the Hungarian language, although membership of the global platform Facebook is growing and highlights a desire to be part of the global social media conversation.

The blogosphere is also becoming an increasingly prominent feature of the social media landscape in Hungary, although both reading and especially writing blogs is largely centered around large cities, in particular Budapest which hosts occasional offline meet ups and an annual blog awards ceremony.

Organizational use of social media has been adopted most notably by the political sphere in Hungary, although more so by opposition parties than the elected government. In general the majority of activity is based around election campaigns with engagement levels dipping at other times. Despite this, political conversation is a prominent part of life in Hungary and is a major topic of conversation in social media.

Commercial engagement with social media is, in most cases, limited to paid advertising on blogs, although many companies are still dubious of the space altogether. Although, engagement is still in its infancy, principles of honesty, credibility and disclosure are beginning to develop as organizations begin to explore the space as a channel for promoting products or services, and generating positive word of mouth.

Regulation of the Internet is taken seriously in Hungary as the space has become liable to corruption in recent years. The Hungarian Internet Police have had investigative powers since 2005 and monitor the Web for illegal activity including phishing, file-sharing and inappropriate sexual or racist behaviour.

III.            Access

  • Currently, over half of Hungary’s population has access to the Internet (58%) which is just below the European average of 60%. Access initiatives driven by the government have played a crucial role in boosting access levels over recent yeas
  • People typically access the Internet via PCs and laptops, smartphone penetration is currently low
  • People between the ages of 15-24 years are the most prolific users of the Internet in Hungary (84%) followed by 25-34 (67%) and then the 50 and over demographic (21%)

Internet access in Hungary has been developing considerably since 2002 when the Ministry of Information embarked on an infrastructure and access program which offered Hungarian’s a package of either 15 or 40 hours of internet access per week. Since then the E-Hungary initiative (2003) has been working to improve access in rural areas through the opening of so-called ‘e-points’ where people can go to gain access but also help in learning how to use the Internet. Other programs include the KozHalo (Public Web) which helps schools, businesses, libraries and hospitals modernize their computer systems.

This process of access improvement and education is ongoing and is providing the basis for Hungary’s younger generations in particular, who are fast catching up with western European countries in terms of social media activity.

Currently, over half of Hungary’s population has access to the Internet (58%) which is just below the European average of 60%. 48% of all households, approximately 1.9 million have Internet subscriptions and the total number of subscriptions including businesses and organizations is 2.4 million.

The deficit of households which do not have Internet access explains in some part, why PC use is still markedly higher than use of portable devices such as laptops, smartphones and netbooks at 90% compared to 26%, and supports the fact that most people access the Internet while at work (60%) rather than at home (43%); school (40%); or whilst ‘on the move’ (6%).

Mobile Internet access is low in Hungary as few people own Internet enabled phones. Whilst 86% of Hungarians own a mobile phone, these are usually just used for phones calls and SMS messaging. Vendors forecast, however that smart phone sales will grow, especially as multimedia functionality is integrated across handset ranges – a consideration for long-term communications strategy.

Young people between the ages of 15-24 years are the most prolific users of the Internet in Hungary (84%) followed by 25-34 (67%) and then the 50 and over demographic (21%). This breakdown is not dissimilar to other European countries where the young people and students in particular are leading the digital movement. Another feature of Internet penetration in the country which again is similar to many other European countries is that access is greatly increased amongst those residing in large towns and cities as opposed to more rural regions. In Hungary, 70% of the total population of Budapest accesses the Internet on a daily basis, whereas in the country seats this reduces to 51%. 49% of people living in other Hungarian cities and 43% of people living in villages access it regularly.

Internet access in Hungary is also impacted by the gender divide which sees 55 % of men and 48 % of women accessing it regularly. This disparity can be connected to the relatively low employment rates from women in Hungary which are well below EU and OECD averages and even low compared to other central and eastern European countries.

IV.          Activity

  • Social networking is the most popular social media activity in Hungary along with reading blogs. The Hungarian platform IWIW.hu is the most popular, with 4.2 million members
  • The 16-24 age group is embracing social networking as a tool used primarily to facilitate a social life and share content and chat
  • This contrast markedly with mature audiences, where discussion about political issues is a defining issue. Experts speculate this is due to the strong contrast between left and right wing political factions in Hungary

Social networking

Social networking is the most popular social media activity in Hungary along with reading blogs, activities which are both undertaken by 52% of total Internet users.

There are a wide range of social networks available in Hungary, the most popular being the Hungarian-owned IWIW.hu which has 4.2 million members most of whom are aged between 15-29 years. MyVIP.com and Baratikor.com are also popular with 2.6 and 2.5 million members respectively. All three are local networks in the Hungarian language which are populated largely by teenagers and young adults who use the services to keep in touch, make new friends, share photos and videos. Other smaller networks include Hi5.com, Hotdog.hu, videa.hu and inda.hu.

Interestingly, although Facebook is yet to be translated into Hungarian the network still has 400,000 Hungarian users.

Most popular blogs

–         Tékozló Homár: consumer blog with around 30,000 unique visitors per day

–         Tóta W. Árpád: is written by one of the most popular online journalists about public life and political issues

–         Vastagbőr: blog about public life and politics with an average of 7,620 unique visitors per day

–         Konzervatórium: focuses on politics, culture, public life and the economy from a conservative and neo-conservative perspective

–         Reakció: a blog written by right-wing journalists about politics

–         Élőben a városból: focuses on infrastructure issues and transport

–         BKV-figyelő: blog/forum for residents of Budapest to air their opinions about the city’s transport (Budapest Transport Ltd.) This blog gets between 4,000 – 5,000 visitors per day

–         Nou san Trafford: a blog about sport

–         Sorozatjunkie: focuses on popular TV series

–         Urban Legends: a blog about public life, politics, culture

Blogging

Although 52 % of Hungary’s Internet users read blogs, only 9 % are believed to write them suggesting that blogs written in other countries and different languages are also popular. However, blogging is an established enough practice to be recognized by the Goldenblog competition which has been awarding Hungary’s best blogs since 2005, and the annual blogger meeting held in Budapest. Both events demonstrate not only the growing size of the blogger community but also their proactivity in raising the profile of blogging offline as well as on. There are believed to be around 256,600 blogs registered to Hungarian users, although this figure does not consider the level of activity on these blogs. Interestingly, there appears to be a divide between Hungarians’ use of social media depending on their age. Whilst the 15-24 age group is embracing social networking as a tool used primarily to facilitate socializing, content sharing and chat around lighthearted topics, more serious discussion surrounding political issues is a defining feature of online activity in Hungary and mainly undertaken in blogs and forums by more mature users. The political atmosphere in Hungary also contributes to the amount of online debate that exists as the distinction between the left and right wing is prominent.

Microblogging on sites including Twitter is even less widespread with only around 3,000 Hungarian accounts currently. Those who are using Twitter however, are believed to be highly qualified young professionals between the ages of 25 and 29 years. The popularity of Twitter and other microblogging services is expected to grow in the next couple of years according to media experts.

Sharing video online is becoming increasing popular and will no doubt mirror the rise in Internet-enabled and multimedia cell phones in the coming years. Currently 21% of Hungary’s total Internet users share video content on social networking and content sharing sites such as IWIW.hu and YouTube.

V.            Organizational Use

  • In Hungary, organizational use of social media is dominated by political parties, rather than private sector businesses
  • Political parties are prolific in their use of platforms such as YouTube.com, Facebook.com and Twitter.com as well as providing social functionalities on their websites including RSS Feeds, forums and links out to blogs
  • Use of social media by NGOs in Hungary is in its relative infancy, although projects like civiljutub.hu (video content aggregator for NGOs) indicates prospects of growth

Commercial

In Hungary, organizational use of social media is dominated by political parties and governmental organizations rather than commercial companies.

Whilst businesses are beginning to see the benefit of a social media presence (8% of businesses have a corporate blog and 23% intend to set one up), this is low compared to western European countries which are now, in the most case, using social media as an integral part of their communications strategy. At present, online advertising is still the most common channel for large companies and SMBs, which favor the most populated social networking platforms such as IWIW.hu and MyVIP.com.

Outside the sphere of marketing and communications however, companies in Hungary often use social networks for recruitment purposes; both to search for potential new candidates but more frequently to check their profile before offering them a job. This is common practice and can often be the deciding factor in a candidate’s success.

Offline/online integration:

In 2007 Coca-Cola Hungary decided to promote the Coke Club – a place for concerts, parties near Lake Balaton, in Siófok – online. The company made short videos about the club and uploaded it to video sharing platforms.

Next Coca Cola sponsored the IWIW social networking platform, offering opportunities to join the Coke Club via the website.

To complete the promotion, Coca Cola launched a blog, called feritivi.blog.hu, a live online transmission from the Coke Club. On one day the blog received 9,000 visitors – more than the number of guests at the event.

Political

Political parties’ use of social media

–         MSZP (Hungarian Socialist Party) – www.mszp.hu

RSS, forum, links to politicians’ video broadcasts on YouTube

–         SZDSZ (Alliance of Free Democrats) – www.szdsz.hu

There is some video on the website which is hosted on YouTube as well including links to politicians’ personal blogs

–         MDF (Hungarian Democratic Forum) – www.mdf.hu

There are currently no open social tools available

–         KDNP (Christian Democratic People’s Party) – www.kdnp.hu – There are currently no open social tools available

–         Fidesz (Alliance of Young Democrats) – www.fidesz.hu
Forum, photos and videos can be found

The political sphere is more involved than commercial organizations in social media, with a range of social tools being used to communicate party messages to an online audience. Interestingly, the current Government in Hungary does not use social media uniformly and much less than opposition parties from both the left and right wing. The official Government website www.magyarorszag.hu is one of its only online outlets and while it does include the option for an RSS Feed, it has no other social functionalities.

Conversely, Hungary’s political parties are prolific in their use of platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter as well as providing social functionalities on their websites including RSS Feeds, forums and links out to blogs.

Notable activity includes the blogs of former Prime Ministers Ferenc Gyurcsány, hosted on the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSVP) site kapcsolat.hu and Viktor Orban (www.viktororban.hu) on which videos are uploaded and podcasts recorded by Orban can be downloaded.

Given the small number of Hungarian users, it is interesting to note that Twitter was used by the Office of the Prime Minister to provide information on events surrounding the State Celebration this year, demonstrating both a level of innovation and potential for the future.

Again, another platform that is being embraced by politicians is Facebook which has only a quarter of the Hungarian members compared to IWIW.hu. A number of politicians have established profile pages and groups on Facebook to build communities of supporters online. An example of this was when Janos Koka, former Economic Minister, uploaded photos taken on his cell phone to his Facebook page during the negotiation of the Nabucco gas pipe.

Blogging and the use of Twitter, is mainly undertaken by younger politicians however, it is not common place. Overall political use of social media appears to be more tactical than strategic at present, with political parties and politicians recognizing the potential of the medium but lacking the knowledge and experience to fully realize this.

NGOs

Use of social media by NGOs in Hungary is in its relative infancy compared with other European countries. NGOs are rarely found using social networks or content sharing platforms to convey their messages. Any social functions are most likely found on the main website of the NGO rather than hosted on separate platforms.

The most progressive example of social media use is by youth charity “Psychology for the Youth” (www.pszi-fi.hu) which as a well as having a blog and forum on the site, also has Facebook and Twitter accounts. Visitors are encouraged to become part of a ‘shared experience’ community where they can meet other like-minded people of a similar age. Given this charity is aimed at helping young people it is not surprising that it is more engaged with social media than others and shows that organizations are recognizing the need to ‘fish where the fish are’.

An interesting development in the NGO sector that is worth noting however, is civiljutub.hu, a video content-sharing site similar to YouTube and sponsored by the National Civil Fund. The site aggregates all the video content produced by Hungarian NGOs so that visitors can watch videos according to topic, the most popular being consumer protection, culture, healthcare and environmental protection. With only 131 members however, the site is currently quite niche but is a good example of how content aggregation and open social functions are beginning to be used.

News media

Although there is evidence of journalists using blogging as an additional media channel and particularly to discuss political issues, the press community is considerably less active in social media than those in western European countries.

One exception to this is HVG.hu, Hungary’s largest weekly economic publication which runs a blog that is widely read. HVG has also published short videos on YouTube.

Whilst Facebook and Twitter accounts are held by most of the major titles in Hungary, these are largely inactive. It would seem that most have been established in anticipation of media consumption changes, however, at present the demand is not great enough for the media houses to make major investment in a social media strategy.

VI.          Legal & Ethical

  • Internet use in Hungary has been liable to corruption in recent years prompting the establishment of the Hungarian Internet Police which have had investigative powers since 2005
  • Planned amendments to the Hungarian Media Act may lead to the formation of a board to regulate Internet, print and broadcast media

Internet use in Hungary has been liable to corruption in recent years prompting the establishment of the Hungarian Internet Police which have had investigative powers since 2005 and been operating as an independent division since 2007. Online activity, increasingly in social networks and forums, is monitored 24 hours a day for illegal activity including phishing, file-sharing and inappropriate sexual or racist behavior.

Although the majority of the work carried out by the Hungarian Internet Police is worthy, there are cases where mistakes have been made when using social media to identify criminals. One such case saw a young boy wrongly accused of a crime based on a photograph he had posted onto the social networking site IWIW.hu.

Topics relating to criminal activity on the Web have featured prominently in online conversation. In particular, a large-scale phishing scam was carried out earlier this year which affected 1 million Hungarian internet users and included an attempt to hack government files. The Hungarian Internet Police were tipped off however and the perpetrators were identified and charged.

Laws regarding the publishing of digital content do not currently exist and rely on general copyright laws. However, a proposal to amend Media Act (Act No.1 of 1996) which currently only covers television and radio has been made to include digital and print media also. If the amendment is passed, it will include the establishment of a new board to replace the ORTT (National Radio and Television Board) which will include regulations pertaining to Internet and print media.

The Constitution of the Hungarian Republic is the only other regulatory decree which impacts digital media as a whole, guaranteeing freedom of speech and freedom of press under Act XX, Article 61. Most commonly the regulation of content is governed by the Terms & Conditions of the individual platform and these are stated clearly on each site. Often in this case, it becomes the prerogative of the administrator to decide whether or not a piece of content should be published and this person will also be responsible for removing content if asked to do so by another member. In most cases, social networks reserve the right to block members who break the legal and ethical guidelines of the site in any way.

In the case of some blogs, the following laws on copyright can be applied, although it is worth noting that the service providers of blogging platforms are not responsible for moderating blog content:

–    Act LXXVI of 1999 on Copyright and Act CVIII of 2001 on certain issues regarding electronic commercial services and information society services

VII.       Local factors affecting social media

  • Hungary politics is a conspicuous topic of conversation on social media, topics include current issues of government policy and party politics, as well as ongoing themes, such as state and corporate corruption
  • There are currently no specific laws in place governing the use of social media in Hungary, however openness, transparency and a respect for copyright are recommended to win trust in an environment where concerns about corruption are on the public agenda

Most popular forums:

–         Barátok Közt (about a Hungarian daily TV-series) http://www.nlcafe.hu/forum

–         Nézhetetlen a Napkelte az M1-en (about a Hungarian politics TV program) http://forum.index.hu/Article/showArticle?t=9077978&la=94209946

–         Politika light, Csak röviden (about politics) http://forum.index.hu/Article/showArticle?t=9072754&la=94210025

–         Adózás (about taxation) http://forum.index.hu/Topic/TopicDescription?t=9018306

–              Csapos Ogre fogadója (about cooking) http://forum.index.hu/Article/showArticle?t=9177661

One of the most prominent features of social media in Hungary is the conversation which exists around politics. The country’s historical and political legacy continues to shape opinions and values today and this is apparent in online conversation. The Hungarian peoples’ interest in the political structure of their country is played out in social media – in blogs and forums in particular.

The most popular topics discussed in social media include: public life, the economy, politics, taxation and corruption. In addition to this, more lighthearted topics include food and cooking, culture (film, festivals etc.), IT and technology, entertainment and news.

Guidelines for engaging with social media

Currently, organizations’ involvement with social media is conducted primarily through paid advertising, although research has shown that many Hungarian organizations are skeptical of the reach blogs have as effective advertising channels. Research carried out earlier this year by Karmamedia AdBlog highlighted that over half the bloggers questioned about advertising said that they were not currently hosting any advertising even though most of them (85%) were keen to.

Organizations looking to engage with the blogosphere in an editorial capacity rather than through paid advertising can do so through the establishment of their own corporate blog. By becoming engaged and active in a valid and contributory way, other bloggers are more open to engagement particularly if they share the same sphere of interest.

From an ethical standpoint, credibility and disclosure are becoming important guiding principles in the relationship between organizations and bloggers. Bloggers are becoming increasingly wary of bribery by companies which has been known to cost them their readers’ respect if discovered. Where interaction between an organization, brand or product has occurred, it is now common practice for this to be disclosed on the blog. In general, bloggers are open to engaging with organizations as long as the communication is relevant, honest and friendly.

In terms of engagement with social networks, the same rules generally apply when contacting a group’s administrator. In addition, the terms and conditions of the host platform / service provider should also be taken into consideration.

As a general guide, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s three-point code of conduct provides a sound basis for online behavior.

  • Commitment to Integrity: Honesty, Disclosure & Identity

Always be who you say you are. Although you may find social media participants can sometimes be hostile towards organizations, you should never try to conceal your identity in order to build a better relationship. Social media is highly attuned to seek out deception and is fundamentally against this on all levels.

  • Commitment to Community: Responsiveness, Generosity, Helpfulness & Collaboration

Remember to take part but also give back. In order to influence social media you must become a respected member of the community. This involves listening and responding as well as talking.

  • Commitment to opinion: Respectfulness, Equality & Freedom of speech

Respect the views of others even if they don’t agree with yours or those of your organization. Social media provide forums in which groups can convene to hold open conversations. Organizations should be careful to avoid destabilizing or alienating communities by attempting to impose views, or limiting the scope of conversation. Aim to assert influence rather than control and take advantage of the open nature of conversation to learn more about your audiences and how to engage them.

VIII.     Principal data sources

–                  GfK Hungaria Ltd: www.gfk.hu

–                  GKIeNET-T-Home-T-Mobile group: www.gkienet.hu

–                  NRC Ltd: www.nrc.hu

–                  Hungarian Central Statistical Office: www.ksh.hu

–                  Miner Search: www.miner.hu

–                  Universal McCann: http://www.universalmccann.com/

–                  Nielsen Online: http://en-us.nielsen.com/

–                  Alexa: http://www.alexa.com/

–                  International Telecommunications Union: http://www.itu.int/en/pages/default.aspx

–                  Google: http://www.google.com

–                  GfK Group: http://www.gfk.com/

–                  Wiki Gender: http://www.wikigender.org/index.php/Gender_Equality_in_Hungary

–                  Karma Media – http://karma.blog.hu/

–                  Hungarian Social media platforms (as listed)

For USG Official Use Only

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