Latin American companies lag in social media use

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL: Latin American companies are not as involved in social media compared to their global counterparts, according to a new study from Burson-Marsteller.

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL: Latin American companies are not as involved in social media compared to their global counterparts, according to a new study from Burson-Marsteller. The Latin America Corporate Social Media Study 2010 looked at 20 of the highest revenue companies in eight Latin American countries and compared their social media usage to a previous study, The Global Social Media Check-up, which looked at the Fortune Global 100.

"This past February, we launched a global social media study, and we noticed there weren't too many Latin American companies in that study, and those who were weren't as involved," said Ashley Welde, director of research for Burson-Marsteller.

This new study took a deeper dive into Latin America, and found that only 49% of Latin American companies use at least one popular social media platform (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube), compared to the global average of 79%. Mexico, Venezuela, and Brazil have the most social media activity of the eight countries, which also included Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Puerto Rico.

"There's a lack of awareness, which is changing very quickly, about how much their stakeholders are using social media," Welde said, about why Latin American companies are lagging behind. "Latin American stakeholders do want to communicate with companies online."

Facebook is the most popular social network for companies in Latin America, with 39% keeping profiles on the site. Globally, 54% of companies are on Facebook.

Latin America has also not embraced Twitter as much as companies around the globe, with only 32% using Twitter, compared to 65% of companies globally. Yet consumers and stakeholders are talking about these companies online, Welde said, as the agency separately found that consumers and stakeholders mentioned 53% of the companies studied on Twitter.

"Clearly they want to use these channels to interact with companies," Welde added. However, those companies that are involved in Twitter are more active, the study found. Latin American companies have twice as many followers on Twitter, on average, compared to their global counterparts, and update their accounts more often.

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