Brands Should Be Careful with Social Media in Latam

This post is also available in: Spanish

We’ve seen that social media can be a brand booster in Latin America. However, a new survey of 72,000 consumers shows they have mixed feelings about the social media presence of brands.
TNS carried out the study, called Digital Life, which surveyed customers in 60 countries—including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru—about their online habits, including social media. Here’s a rundown of the key results.

The Good
• 43% of Latin American social media users see social sites as a place to buy products, with 48% of Brazilians sharing this view
• 44% of Argentines say social media sites are a good place to learn about products
• Several Latam countries are more open to brands on social media sites than they are resistant, including Brazil (32%), Colombia (31%), Peru (32%), Mexico (20%) and Chile (18%)
• 46% of Latin Americans talk about brands online, including 25% of Argentines
• 55% of Latin Americans say they’re driven to get involved with a brand online by promotions or special offers

The Bad
• 45% of Latin Americans don’t want brands to market to them via social media—they see the brands as invading their social space
• 53% of Brazilians don’t want brands to market to them via social media
• 44% of Argentines don’t want brands to market to them via social media
• 37% of Mexicans don’t want brands to market to them via social media
• More Argentines go online to complain about brands (13%) than praise them (11%)

The Confusing
The numbers paint a jumbled picture. On one hand, almost half of Argentines think that social media sites are a good place to learn about products. Yet the same amount doesn’t want brands to market to them on social media. About half of Brazilians see social sites as a place to buy products, but the other half doesn’t want to be bothered by brands on social media sites. A good number of Latin Americans seem open to special offers from products, yet others don’t.
To further muddle things, in the press release that TNS put out to discuss Digital Life’s results, the company said that “misguided digital strategies are generating mountains of digital waste, from friendless Facebook accounts to blogs no one reads…The result is huge volumes of noise, which is polluting the digital world and making it harder for brands to be heard—presenting a major challenge for businesses trying to enter into dialogue with consumers online.”
Okay—but this doesn’t really explain things. Clearly, many of the respondents in these countries are fine with brands reaching out to them social media. And none of the preliminary numbers suggest that consumers perceive social media efforts from brands to be digital garbage.

Moving Forward
What is clear is that Latin Americans—and other consumers—are ambivalent about brands reaching them via social media. In addition, companies risk being perceived as invading their customers’ social media space. But does this mean that brands are “polluting” the digital world with their social media efforts? Not necessarily.

What is does mean is that brands need to look very hard at their social media efforts in Latin America. This is a divided audience—half are glad to see you there and half are not. So the question is: how do you win over the other half? Obviously, the answer will be different for every company. To find those answers, brands may want to explore case studies of successful social media use to see what kind of best practices they can glean and apply. They should also do research in these markets to determine how social media users see their efforts and refine them accordingly. Overall, the survey results point to a need for brands to constantly monitor and improve their social media efforts to make sure that they’re having a friendly dialogue—not an annoying, alienating monologue—with their customers.

To learn more about how we can help you reach Latin America with a customized campaign, contact us at

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