Brazil, Latin America’s Largest Country, Sees Facebook Growth in Key Demographics

[Editor’s Note: The following article presents analysis and data excerpts from Inside Facebook Gold, our research and data membership service tracking Facebook’s traffic growth and demographic landscape in global markets.]

Brazil is on its way up in the world. A growing powerhouse of 192 million citizens, the giant South American nation is receiving ever more attention internationally for both its culture and economy.

The country is a world to itself on the internet. While the rest of the continent finds advantage in freely intermingling online, Brazil has the numbers — fully half of South America’s total — to create its own online market, and a distinct language, Portuguese, that encourages division from the rest of Latin America.

This is evident in social networking. Brazil is now the only nation in the world in which Orkut, Google’s social network, is more significant than Facebook.

How much more is somewhat uncertain, but an estimate of 28 million Brazilians on Orkut is often used. Facebook reports 5.8 million users in the country.

In an interview published this morning at Inside Social Games, Juan Franco, the CEO of game publisher Mentez, suggests that Orkut’s penetration into Brazil may actually be much higher — up to 50 million of the nation’s 72 million internet users.

However, Facebook has a valuable starting point, according to Franco: high-income, cosmopolitan users, or exactly the demographic that most marketers and developers are most interested in reaching.

Our user demographics show some notable differences between Brazil and other Latin American markets, which suggest the high-income user theory is correct.

Latin America’s internet population is heavily weighted toward the young, which means that countries like Mexico and Colombia end up with over 80 percent of users being aged 13-34, with the weight on the lower end of that scale, in users 13-25.

Brazil’s country demographics are similar to its neighbors, but its Facebook demographics vary significantly:

Once again, young users are dominant, but barely so — the 26-34 age group is almost equal to 18-25.

Further, there’s a significant number of users over 35, some 31 percent of the total. In both Mexico and Colombia, by contrast, users over 35 only make up 15 percent of the total.

In this case, older users almost certainly mean more educated, more affluent users.

Additional data on gender splits by age for the Brazil market shows a fairly even division, with men outnumbering women in certain age groups (full demographic data for this market is available through Inside Facebook Gold.)

For now, Brazil is still only Facebook’s 20th-largest market. In absolute numbers, it appears it’s still not quite large enough to merit serious investment. However, out of the top 20 markets, the country has the second-highest 12 month growth rate, at 310 percent, according to our monthly Global Monitor report, with a demonstrated emphasis on the demographic groups with the greatest monetization potential.

The next few months should tell whether Facebook will be capable continuing the growth despite Orkut’s presence. From what we’ve seen so far, its chances look good. If it does continue at its current pace, Brazil could have over 21 million users in a year’s time, according to the Monitor — a number worthy of close attention.

This article presents an excerpt of data from our monthly Global Demographics Report, available through Inside Facebook Gold. Full demographic data for Facebook’s top country markets is available through a subscription to Inside Facebook Gold.