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

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: Hungary
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: Norway

For USG Official Use Only

Social Media Landscape: Romania

Romania at a glance

  • Romania has a relatively low Internet penetration rate with significant variations in access levels across the country
  • Information gathering, e-mail and entertainment are the most popular online activities amongst Romanians, each accounting for a third of Internet use
  • Businesses and individual politicians (rather than government) are recognizing the potential of social media for public engagement

I.                 Executive Summary

Internet penetration and usage in Romania is still relatively underdeveloped in comparison to the rest of Europe, with availability and usage limited mainly to Bucharest, the capital city. As a result, social media usage is also generally focused around Bucharest. As well as geographical limits for Internet activity, social demographics play a large part in determining Internet usage; with professionally-employed, university educated citizens representing by far the largest community active online.

Amongst Internet users, social media use is growing in popularity; particularly social networking sites, blogging, photo and video sharing, and microblogging. Businesses are beginning to identify opportunities to use social media as part of their communications strategies. The government and state services have been slower to adopt social media, although individual politicians are experimenting with the media for campaigning purposes.

While Romanian is widely used, English is the common language for conversation via social media in Romania. Politics is a very popular topic of conversation amongst Romanian Internet users, particularly given recent levels of political uncertainty. Concern currently exists that the lack of regulation over the Internet, combined with the real-time nature of the medium is devaluing the quality of content being consumed by the public.

Although Internet use is low compared to the rest of Europe, social media are establishing a relevancy to Romanian society as a means to connect; share and debate and we can expect their use to grow.

II.              Access

  • Romania has a relatively low Internet penetration rate with significant variations in access levels across the country. The wireless infrastructure plays a significant role in enabling connectivity
  • University-educated professionals and current students (undergraduate and post-graduate) and the primary community active online in Romania
  • The majority of users access the Internet from home, a  reflection on the current employment landscape in Romania and employer access policies

Romania has 7,430,000 Internet users, equating to an Internet penetration rate of 33.4% across the country.  Of this number, 41.5% use the Internet daily, 5.3% use the Internet “a few times a week” and 10.9% use the Internet “several times a month.”  The majority of users in Romania access the Internet through a PC, with 67.3% citing this as their main point of access. Laptop computers are significantly less popular, and the devices make up only 4% of total national Internet access in Romania.

Romanian Internet users by occupation

  • Employee with a university degree – 38%
  • Scholar, student – 22%
  • General Manager (executive) – 11%
  • Self Employed – 8%
  • Qualified worker – 5%
  • Homemaker – 3%
  • Pensioner – 1%
  • Unemployed – 1%
  • Farmer – 1%
  • Unqualified worker – 1%
  • Other – 10%

Romanian Internet users by occupation

  • Employee with a university degree – 38%
  • Scholar, student – 22%
  • General Manager (executive) – 11%
  • Self Employed – 8%
  • Qualified worker – 5%
  • Homemaker – 3%
  • Pensioner – 1%
  • Unemployed – 1%
  • Farmer – 1%
  • Unqualified worker – 1%
  • Other – 10%

Internet and IT penetration in Romania is significantly below the European average, however cell phone penetration has reached saturation point.  There are more than 24.5 million active cell phone SIM cards in use in Romania, against a human population of 21.5 million, giving a penetration rate in excess of 110%. This, combined with the limited level of fixed line infrastructure explains the relatively high level of mobile Internet use at 22.7%.

The home is the most popular place for people to access the Internet (46.4%), followed by work (15.6% – below the European average and a reflection of the Romanian professional landscape) and school (8.4%).  Over 20% of Romanians access the Internet while on the move (via mobile networks, public access points e.g. Internet cafes).

As is the case across Europe, the most active age group is the 18 – 24 year-olds, who make up 35% of the online community.   The 25 – 34 age group comprises 33% of Internet users, and the 35 – 45 age group represents 32% of users.  Overwhelmingly, Romanian Internet users are educated to degree level; employees with university degrees account for 38% of the online population, with students and post-graduate scholars representing a further 22% of users.

There are significant discrepancies across geographies in Romania in terms of Internet accessibility. The capital city, Bucharest, is the most active location in Romania on the Internet: 79% of its inhabitants have access to the Internet either from home, work, school or public access points, and 56% access online content on a daily or weekly basis.

Region Daily access Weekly access Monthly access Rarely access I have access but never use it I don’t have access
Bucharest 44% 12% 2% 4% 16% 21%
Oltenia 9% 6% 2% 3% 16% 65%
Mutntenia 16% 7% 4% 5% 20% 47%
Moldova 13% 9% 3% 5% 14% 57%
Dobrogea 10% 2% 6% 11% 11% 61%
Banat Crişana Maramureş regions 20% 12% 2% 5% 16% 45%
Ardeal 17% 9% 3% 4% 7% 59%

III.            Activity

  • Information gathering, e-mail and entertainment are the most popular online activities amongst Romanian users, with each representing approximately a third of Internet usage
  • Hi5 is the most popular social network in Romania, and is used predominantly by the 13 – 24 age group.
  • Blogging is popular amongst the educated and technoogy “early adopter” communities, as is microblogging service Twitter

Internet usage in Romania is split almost equally between three main functions: information gathering (38.6%), e-mail (37.4%) and entertainment and social networking (34.1%). 33.8% of Internet users are claim to be active on social media in all its various forms (e.g. reading/writing blogs, social networking/sharing multimedia content) – a significant proportion of the online population. Of this amount, 60% run their own social media account and at least 35% have uploaded a video file onto a website such as YouTube, Vimeo, or a local equivalent such as Trilulilu.ro. Photo sharing is more popular than video sharing, with 73% using services such as Google Picasa or Flickr.

Social networking

Top 5 social networks

  • Hi5 – 3.5 million users
  • Netlog – 1.6 million users
  • Neogen – 1 million users
  • Facebook – 327,000 users
  • MySpace (Think Digital) – 170,000 users

The most popular social network in Romania is Hi5.com. The site has 3.5 million users, of which 56% are male and 44% are female.  The most active demographic involved with the Hi5 site are 18 – 25 year olds, who make up 45.9%.  Following this are 13 – 18 year olds who comprise 26% and 25 – 35 year olds who represent 20.9%.  Netlog, the Belgian-based social network, is the second most popular platform amongst Romanian users with over 1.6 million accounts in Romania.  Amongst Netlog users 65% are between 17-28 years old.  Neogen, a Romanian language social network, is also extremely popular amongst Romanian social networkers, with approximately 1 million active accounts.

Facebook has a relatively smaller presence in Romania than the market leaders. There are currently 327,060 active Romanian users on Facebook however the numbers are rapidly increasing. Facebook is also the most representative social network in Romania; with members coming from a wide cross-section of the population. Romanian Facebook users are fairly advanced social media consumers who tend to be educated; interested in reading blogs and interacting with other social media; and interested in sharing experiences – the technology “early adopters”.  The 25 – 30 age group is the largest group on Facebook, accounting for 29.57% of users. The second largest age group using Facebook in Romania is the 31- 40 group, representing 20% of users.   13 – 24 year-olds account for 22% of the users; the majority of this age group are active on Hi5 (71.9% of Hi5’s membership is drawn from this demographic.

Blogs

Blogging is a popular online activity in Romania, although it is primarily the domain of educated, higher-income groups. Blog readers in Romania tend to be younger, with the 20-35 age group participating most actively (73.7% ), followed by the 25-31 age group (27.1%) and the 31-45 age group (18.6%).  In addition, blogs tend be used predominantly by more experienced Internet users, many of whom have

had active access to the Internet for at least seven years (over 50%). Those who have been using the Internet for four to seven years, make up 34.9% of the blogging population, and those who have only been using the Internet for one to three years represent 12.4%.

With the low Internet penetration level in Romania it is unsurprising that blogging is utilized more by experienced users, who typically devote more time to understanding the intricacies of the Internet and have developed more sophisticated patterns of online behavior. The most popular platforms are Blogger, LiveJournal, TypePad, WordPress, and Romanian platform Webblog.ro.

Communication:

  • Forums: vBulletin, phpBB, SMF, IPB
  • Micro-blogs : IPB, Plurk, Pownce, cirip.ro
  • Social networks: Bebo, Orkut, Ning, Xing, tetanet.ro, ikonect.ro, Afaceri.ro
  • Events: Upcoming, Eventful, Meetup.com, Invita.ro
  • Discussion groups: Google Groups, Yahoo! Groups, Windows Live Groups
  • Instant Messaging: Yahoo! Messenger, Windows LiveMessenger, Meebo, AOL Instant Messenger, Trillian, Skype, Google Talk

Collaboration:

  • Wiki: Wikipedia (124,326 articles in Romanian), PBwiki, wetpaint
  • Bookmarks: Delicious, StumbleUpon,Google Reader
  • Opinions and answers: epinions, Answers.com, cerecomand.ro, 8zile.ro, tpu.ro

Multimedia:

  • Photo: Flickr, Picasa, Photobucket, 100eyes.ro
  • Art : deviantART
  • Livecasting: Skype, acumlive.ro
  • Audio online: imeem, Last.fm,musicovery, eok.ro
  • Virtual worlds: Second Life, The Sims Online, There
  • Online Games: World of Warcraft, The Lord of the Rings Online , City of Villains Travian, Hattrick, Miniclip

Microblogging

Twitter is gaining popularity in Romania and now has approximately 20,000 users. Most Romanian Twitter users live in the capital city, Bucharest (58%), followed by people from Iasi and Cluj (approx. 6% each), although clearly the users numbers are significantly lower in these locations. Most Twitterers are aged 21-30 30 (73%), working in either IT or the media/marketing sectors – another informed “early adopter” audience. Most users spend on average 15 minutes per day on the service.

IV.          Organizational Use

  • Romanian businesses are slowly integrating social media tactics into their marketing and communications programs
  • Politicians are beginning to recognize the value of social media as a campaign channel; Twitter, Facebook and blogging are particularly utilized. Governmental use is lagging behind
  • Journalists are increasingly using social media as an outlet for personal opinion, free from the constraints of publication editorial restrictions
  • Social media in business

Romanian businesses are slowly integrating social media tactics into their marketing and communications programs, and a reasonable number of Romanian businesses are now represented on platforms such as Twitter.

Increasingly, established brands are adopting a social media component into their campaigns. Ursus, a leading Romanian beer brand, has recently declared that their communications strategy for the year to will include a social media element in addition to traditional channels. However, at the moment the majority of social media activity by brands focuses of advertising, rather than direct public engagement.

Romanian businesses on Twitter

  • LG
  • Orange
  • Rompetrol
  • Vodafone
  • BMW
  • VinExpert
  • LibraBank
  • Microsoft
  • BitDefender
  • Edipresse
  • Jurnalul National
  • Adevarul
  • Realitatea TV
  • ProTV
  • Vola
  • BitDefender
  • Edipresse
  • Jurnalul National
  • Adevarul
  • Realitatea TV
  • ProTV
  • Vola
  • Romtelecom
  • Accent Travelbu

Social media in politics

Championing civil rights:

Iulian Urban is a Romanian lawyer. He started a social media campaign to protect civil rights, offering free consultancy via the Internet.

He created a forum where people could express their problems and, also more general politically-related issues. He sent a periodical newsletter with selections of the forum to community members and continued to do so for approximately a year. His activity attracted broad public admiration and he was elected soon after as a Senator in the Romanian Parliament.

The political space in Romanian social media is dominated by individuals rather than organizations. Some state organizations have made tentative experiments with social media; the Bucharest Police Department has a Twitter account and a Facebook page, for example.

In contrast, politicians are now using social media quite extensively before and during election campaigns. Currently, most high-profile politicians in Romania have accounts on Facebook, and some have additional accounts on LinkedIn and Twitter. These politicians include Traian Basescu, the current president and candidate in the elections being held next week, who has a Facebook account. Mircea Geoana is a challenger for the presidential election and also writes a blog and has a Facebook page and Crin Antonescu also a candidate for the presidential elections, has a blog and a Facebook page

News media

In Romania, it is extremely common for journalists to host their own personal blog in order to express their opinions outside of the constraints of a publication or news channel. Social media are also becoming more widely used by Romanian journalists; many of whom have active accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.  Business and media are not the only sectors using social media tools to enhance their brands; high-profile Romanian celebrities are also turning to social media for that effect.  Sportspeople in particular are engaging with their fans on social networks as a means to increase their exposure, such as footballer Gheorghe Hagi and ex-gymnast Nadia Comăneci.

Brand awareness

In terms of brand awareness, Google and Yahoo are both amongst the top 10 most well-known brands in Romania, with 6% and 4% of the population spontaneously citing these brands as leaders in the Romanian market. Google is the most well known Internet-only brand in Romania, with 96% of people able to recognize it.  Yahoo and YouTube followed Google, and were also recognizable by a large percentage of the Romanian population (92% and 88% respectively). The most recognized Romanian Internet- only brands are both job sites (eJobs.ro and BestJobs.ro), at 86% and 83%, which is perhaps surprising due to the relatively low unemployment rate in Romania. Following these sites, Hi5 is recognized by 70% of the population as an Internet brand. This is the highest awareness rate of any social network in Romania.

V.             Legal & Ethical

Case Study: “What a fun time to be her”

Was a campaign to help improve Romania’s image.  Virtual Romania is a 3D space aiming to promote Romania and its local values in the world of Second Life.  The project is based on the accurate reconstruction of key places across the country and smart integration within the community of the virtual world.

  • Social networking activity is not governed by a specific regulatory body, although general laws relating to Internet usage and communications activity are applicable
  • To date, there have not been any law suits based on activity related to social media in Romania
  • Transparency and data protection are the key considerations for online engagement by organizations of the public

There is no official regulatory body in Romania with exclusive responsibility for digital content. However, several laws do have implications for online behavior. The principally relate to issues of data privacy, copyright protection, cybercrime, vice (pornography) and anti-competitive practices:

-       Processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector – Law no.506/2004

-       Popular social media platforms used by Romanians:

-       Provisions on preventing and fighting cybercrime (The cybercrime related provisions are incorporated in Title III of the Anticorruption law no 161/2003 published in the Official Monitor no 279 from 21 April 2003)

-       Law on preventing and combating pornography- no 196/2003

-       Law on the Electronic Signature – no. 455/2001

-       Law on electronic commerce – no 365/2002

-       Standards for the application of Law no.365/2002 on e-commerce

-       Ordinance no. 130/2000 – Legal regime of distance contracts

-       Romanian Copyright Law no. 8/1996 (This version was changed by Law 285/2004 and Emergency Ordinance 123 / 1 Sept 2005 – soon in english)

-       Convention on Cybercrime (The Convention was signed by Romania at 23 11 2001 and was ratified by the Parliament )

-       Emergency Ordinance no. 79/2002, on on the General Regulatory Framework for Communications

-       Ordinance no. 34/2002 on the acces to the electronic communications networks and to the associated infrastructure, as well as their interconnection

-       Law no.304/2003 on the universal service and users’ rights relating to the electronic communications networks and services

-       Ordinance No. 31 of January 30th, 2002 on postal services

-       Law no.239/2005 on the amendment and completion of several normative acts in the field of communications

-       Trademark Law – 84/1998

-       Regulations for Implementing the Law no. 84/1998 concerning the Marks and Geographical Indications

-       Competition Law – 21/1996

Three principles underpin the use of social media in Romania:

-       The first relates to ownership of personal data, whereby while social networks may use some of the data made available by users, data ultimately belongs to the users themselves rather than the network

-       Second, transparency of identity and purpose is considered essential in all online engagement by organizations of the general public in Romania

-       Finally, Romanian law will be applied consistently across all media channels, online and offline, with no exceptions made to the exceptional attributes of any one medium

There have been no lawsuits related to social media in Romania and no reports on job losses as a direct result of social media activity. However, a number of journalists made redundant have speculated that they lost their jobs as a result of positions asserted on personal blogs.

VI.          Local factors affecting social media

  • While Romanian is widely used, English is a common language for conversation via social media in Romania
  • Politics is a very popular topic of conversation amongst Romanian Internet users, particularly amidst Romania’s current state of political insecurity
  • Concern currently exists that the lack of regulation over the Internet, combined with the real-time nature of the medium is devaluing the quality of content being consumed by the public

Romanian events for social media users

  • Twestival
  • RoTwitter Conference
  • Webstock Awards
  • RoNewMedia
  • Powercamp
  • E-Commerce Awards
  • Internet Myths Trends and Opportunities (IMTO).
  • GeekMeet
  • Netoo

While Romanian is used on social media platforms in Romania, the common language in online conversation is English. Romanians are generally comfortable using English to converse recreationally online and being contacted in English. However, should the blogger/social networker you intend to contact publish content only in their native language, then it is recommended that this be used when making the approach.

The overall prevalence of English explains the popularity of English-language platforms such as Hi5, Netlog and Facebook amongst Romanian audiences.

Romanian people are generally very open towards connecting with other people on social media networks. However occasionally, in more formal circumstances, and often dependent on social position and age, users may request a more personal form of contact, such as e-mail, telephone conversation or face-to-face meeting before connecting.

In terms of conversation topics, politics, celebrities and sport, are by far the most popular subjects. Bloggers allot critical attention to gossip, art, media movements, Internet, personal development, games and communication methods.

One of the biggest worries for Romanian social media consumers is that the transformation of the media into a fast paced, real time source, particularly for news, may affect the quality of the content; creating a “tabloid media” culture. The current concern is that this trend, along with the lack of regulation regarding Internet standards, is possibly impacting the standard of the social media conversation and content in Romania.

Top 10 Romanian blogs (with user numbers and topics)

Guidelines for Engagement

Bloggers have so far demonstrated openness and availability towards engagement from third parties. In fact, many bloggers are either former journalists or active journalists, writing for both a newspaper and their personal news or opinion blog.  There is currently an ongoing discussion in Romania about so-called “netiquette” on blogs and social networks. At present, bloggers who are also journalists are supposed to comply with the laws and regulations imposed by their occupation, however there are no other official codes of conduct for online behavior.

In general, while Romania is predominantly a Christian Orthodox country, religion is not a topic discussed online, as religious offences would not be tolerated in the social media community.

Comments relating to ethnicity, especially labels such as “gypsy” are also not well-received among Romanian online communities. Conversely, politics is one of the most popular discussions on the Internet, and is constantly debated amongst Romanian online social communities. As a result, this is a subject that usually triggers a high volume of comments and debates on online forums.

Finally, politics is a topic that is discussed widely in Romanian society, online and offline. The global economic turmoil and local political uncertainty over the past 12 months has generated a broad spread of conversation online and is an ongoing topic of debate, with strong opinions expressed on all issues, on all aspects of the argument.

VII.        Principal data sources

-                  GfK: http://www.gfk-ro.com

-                  ITU: http://www.itu.int/en/pages/default.aspx

-                  eResearch Corp study: http://www.eresearch.ro/index.php?page=epanel

-                  World Bank, World Development Indicators: http://bit.ly/10fXRs

-                  ANRCTI: http://www.anrcti.ro/

-                  Arbo Interactive : http://www.arbointeractive.ro/

-                  ZeList: http://www.zelist.ro/

-                  gemiusAdHoc, Evensys research: http://www.gemius.dk/dk/products_adhoc_about

-                  Nielsen: http://www.ro.nielsen.com/

-                  Romanian Business Digest: http://rbd.doingbusiness.ro/en/latest-articles/3/199-romania-monthly-economic-review-july-2009.html

-                  Universal McCann: http://www.universalmccann.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/

-                  Romanian Social media platforms (as listed)

For USG Official Use Only

8 comments for “(U//FOUO) U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Romania

  1. January 29, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Great in-depth analysis. The information is very useful.

  2. February 9, 2011 at 9:44 am

    The blog provides helpful information regarding the topic and it also gives a vast knowledge..Very informative….If you want to know about SayDotCom its a nice site for marketing tips…

  3. Ina
    March 9, 2011 at 1:47 am

    According to http://www.socialbakers.com/facebook-statistics/romania Romania has a 2 950 940 users not 327,000 users…

  4. Augustin Nicolae
    November 17, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Hello!

    Indeed, Ina is right. Poor article, outdated and full of cliches from, at least, 10 years ago. Actually the quality of our internet networks is very good:

    “Nine countries, South Korea, Japan, Sweden, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Latvia, The Netherlands, Denmark and Romania, were found to have the broadband quality required for future web applications, such as high definition Internet TV viewing and high-quality video communications (such as home telepresence) that will become mainstream in the next 3 to 5 years. In 2008, only Japan exceeded this threshold.”

    Read all the article here:

    http://www.techpark.net/2010/04/15/broadband-internet-speeds-2009-2010-the-top-10-countries/

  5. A.
    December 14, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    The report is ridiculous. Internet access may still not be easily available in rural areas, but every city (even small ones) is well connected. I myself am writing this over a 20Mbps ADSL connection, and that’s the norm today. You can’t buy fixed internet access lower than 4Mbps. 4G coverage is still in its infancy, but 3G is quite common and most of the territory is covered.

    Poor quality document, I pity the US officials who have to take decisions based on this type of intelligence. I think it’s clear now why they’ve failed in Irak and Afghanistan.

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