What Latin America's Exploding Social Media Means to Brands

A recent study published by Synthesio portrays social media holding significant potential for brands and agencies in Latin America. How do Latin Americans use social media and what are those opportunities?

A recent study published by Synthesio portrays social media holding significant potential for brands and agencies in Latin America. With an ever-growing number of Latin Americans with web access and joining social networks, brands must be able to respond to this expanding audience.

How do Latin Americans use social media and what are those opportunities?

Although Latin Americans’ online behavior is evolving, the study [PDF] finds they maintain their cultural and regional ties. Brands need to take into account cultural differences when it comes to Latin-targeted digital campaigns – just as they would any other foreign market – by listening and identifying the unique wants and needs of this valuable demographic.

Second largest consumer of social media worldwide

Representing 8.4% of the world’s total population and close to 10.2% of web users worldwide, Latin Americans are catching up on other regions with one-third having Internet access. Latin America still sits as the fourth largest region of web users, just after North America, Oceania, and Europe.

82% of Latin American web users use social media In Latin America. If we look at the level of adoption of social media per capita, Latin America ranks second only to North America. It also ranks second as the highest-consuming region of blogs, with 61% versus a global average of 51%.

The social network Sonico was created in 2007 in only Portuguese and Spanish. It was the most popular social network in Latin America during its first year, but was quickly overwhelmed by its US competitors that introduced Spanish versions of their sites.

Facebook and Twitter usage

81 million Latin Americans, nearly 14% of all Facebook members are Latin Americans, making it the site’s largest population. The demographic breakdown of social media users is similar to that of the rest of the world with 60% of participants ranging between the ages of 18 and 34. Moreover, while the number of new Facebook users is down in Europe and the United States, almost every country in Latin America is experiencing continual growth.

16.1% of Twitter users are Latin Americans. Twitter has touched a younger generation in Latin America when regional users are compared to those in North America or Europe, where the social network is often used for professional purposes. The region witnessed a particular craze for the micro-blogging site in November 2009 during the launch of its Spanish version, when the number of new Hispanic Twitter users increased seven-fold.

Politics as a factor of social media engagement

A ComScore study showed that when Hugo Chavez joined Twitter in April 2010, the Venezuelan audience for the site increased by 4. 8% over just a few months, not including the number of people that connected via their cell phones or public computers like those used in Internet cafés.

The Brazilian presidential campaign of 2010 was also a race on social networks during which winner Dilma Roussef engaged the services of the web agency that advised President Barack Obama during his 2008 campaign. The day she appeared on national television for a country-wide discourse, messages peaked that day at 90, 000 messages during one day.

Brazil’s unique story

The most populous country in Latin America, Brazil is also the country with the largest number of people with Internet access – 76 million people representing 38% of Latin American web users are Brazilian. With almost 60% of web users using social networks, Brazil surpasses the US and the UK in sheer volume.

8 out of 10 Brazilian web users have Orkut accounts. While Facebook is the preferred social network for the rest of Latin America, Orkut, s social network created by a college student in 2004, is the clear favorite for Brazilians. Facebook is trying to leverage the network’s popularity by offering the possibility of updating an Orkut account directly from Facebook. While it is too soon to tell whether Facebook will take the reigns, the number of Brazilian Facebook members has continued to increase, recently passing the 9. 5 million mark.

Twitter is the third most popular social network in Brazil used by 13% of the country’s web users. As in the rest of Latin America, Twitter has attracted a younger population, with 37% of its members under the age of 17. More than half of the Brazilians on Twitter prefer following their friends’ accounts (74%) than those of celebrities (60%).

Case studies

Synthesio has summarized insightful case studies about Visa in Mexico, a Harry Potter movie in Brazil and the Paso de los toros energy drink in Argentina.

A video summary of the report can also be viewed on MonitorChat.TV.

Social Times recently profiled Synthesio.