Remember the social media explosion of Facebook and Twitter here in the United States back in early 2009? When Facebook was growing at a rate of 600,000 users per day1 and Tweets were being tweeted at a rate of 100 million per quarter?2 It is happening again, but this time in Latin America (LatAm). Just last year alone the growth of social media usage in LatAm was staggering.
In comScore, Inc.’s, an Internet marketing research company, October 2011 study of social media activity around the world, the results found that Latin American countries surpassed the top 10 global markets when ranked by average social networking hours per visitor. Out of the 10 countries on the list, half of them were countries from LatAm3 making Facebook the top social media platform. A major contributing factor is in 2011, Latin America’s online population grew faster than any other global region. A 16% increase that totaled 129.3 million visitors. Eight out of 10 Latin Americans that access the Internet in LatAm use social media. The only region in the world that currently surpasses those numbers is the United States.
In 2011, the Latin American countries that were most engaged with social media were Argentina, which averaged 10.7 hours per visitor in December 2011, followed by Chile with 9.5 hours, Peru with 8.7 hours, Colombia with 7.6 hours and Mexico with 7.1 hours.3
The four most popular social media platforms in the region are Facebook dominating in first place, Windows Live Profile in second, Orkut in third, whose audience comes mostly from Brazil and finally Twitter. Despite placing 4th place, like Facebook, Twitter has grown significantly with an impressive 60% increase in users last year, reaching 27 million visitors.
There are many reasons for the quick growth. The most important reason is with the growing economy in Latin America, the governments of many countries are investing millions in expanding high-speed internet access, thus being able to provide quality internet service to a greater number of people at a competitive price, like never before. A perfect example of this is Columbia, which is investing over 3 billion dollars to develop and promote internet use nationwide.4 Another interesting fact is that on average, Latin Americans tend to have twice the number of friends and family than the average American, which contributes to the acceleration of the adoption rate.5
“The future of social media is looking brighter than ever. The rate at which Facebook and Twitter are growing in Latin America is tremendous news for businesses here in the U.S.” said George L. San Jose, President and Chief Operating Officer of The San Jose Group.
This is just the beginning and great news for digital marketers and businesses because this tremendous growth of online engagement and social media now opens up a surplus of new business and communication opportunities. Because of the quickly growing economy, Latin America is becoming an even more valuable target to digital marketers. Online users are now more easily accessible than ever before. Though this begs the question, even though there are millions of new people to reach through social media, should every company be involved with this strategy? Is social media the right strategy for every business? No, it is not, but for those who can truly benefit from this method of reach, it’s all uphill from here on out. It is clear that social media isn’t a passing fad, this impressive growth that is happening throughout Latin America is impossible to ignore and proves that social media is just getting started and here to stay.