Latin American companies play catch-up on social

NEW YORK: The majority of companies in Latin America are now active in social media, with their strategies increasing in sophistication, according to research from Burson-Marsteller.

NEW YORK: The majority of companies in Latin America are now active in social media, with their strategies increasing in sophistication, according to research from Burson-Marsteller.

The agency's “Latin America Social Media Check-up 2013” selected the top 25 companies based on revenue in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rice, Uruguay, and Venezuela and examined how they use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and blogs.

It compared the data, collected last June, to similar research the firm did two years ago, as well as social media activity from global Fortune 500 companies.

The study showed that 65% of the 225 top companies in Latin America are using at least one social media platform. This was up 16 percentage points from two years ago and catching up with the global figure of 87%.

In Argentina, the number of companies on at least one social media platform more than doubled between 2010 and 2012 to reach 64%.

Brazil has the highest percentage of companies using at least one social media network at 88%, followed closely by Venezuela at 84%.

Puerto Rico has the lowest at 28%. However, this has surged more than five-fold from two years ago when just 5% of its top 25 companies used social media. 

Twitter has overtaken Facebook as the platform of choice for companies, with 53% of respondents using it, compared with 50% on Facebook.

Over the past two years, Twitter has seen the number of accounts created by Latin American companies increase by 21%, which is above the global rate of 17%, according to the research.

In Argentina, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela, the percentage of companies using Twitter doubled between 2010 and 2012.

As well as upping their presence on social media platforms, the research found that there is a “significant” increase in companies using social media to engage stakeholders, creating a two-way conversation.

In Brazil, the number of Twitter users following its top 25 companies rocketed, from 4,206 in 2010 to 66,958 in 2012. Mexico and Venezuela have also seen steep growth in followers of corporate accounts.

According to Ramiro Prudencio, chief executive of Burson in Latin America, companies in the region are using social media much more as a platform to engage internet users, rather than for pushing content as they did previously.

“Latin American companies are developing sophisticated strategies in social media and understanding the value of it very, very quickly,” he said.

The research found that one-third of companies are actively sharing content on YouTube. Companies in Brazil have more views on YouTube than the global average, with 2.3 million in 2012, compared with 2 million globally.

The use of blogs, compared with other social media channels, is low, with only 12 of the companies studied maintaining a corporate blog.

The majority of Latin American companies are not using Google+, the most nascent of the platforms examined, with 20% of them having a page. This is well below the global average of 48%.

Prudencio said that while Internet penetration in Latin America is lower than the US and other developed markets, it is seeing a rapid rate of internet adoption.

“We are seeing a very intense use of platforms for dialogue, and interaction and engagement is increasing,” he explained.

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