Social networks in Brazil

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Brazilians are known worldwide for being friendly, hospitable and for better or worse, one of the most communicative populations in the world. This trait has been thoroughly transported, if not augmented, in the digital environment, as the extraordinarily high engagement with social networks have become a distinct characteristic of the Brazilian population over the last few years.

The social network phenomenon in Brazil can be traced back to the days of Orkut, a pioneering effort from Google which launched in 2004 and was recently shut down. Even during the first months of service, Brazilian users skyrocketed into one of the main user bases for the social network. For many of the country’s internet users, this was their first experience of being able to interact with friends and strangers online, and shaped how a social network environment is perceived in the country.

At the peak of its popularity, the Brazilian audience represented 55% of its global users, which meant that, at that time, two out of every five Brazilians online had an active account with Orkut. By 2011, Facebook overtook Orkut as the most used social network in Brazil, and remains to this day the undisputed leader of this segment in the country. According to market intelligence provider eMarketer, there are over 89 million active Brazilian users on Facebook, which means over 80% of the the country’s internet users are active on the social network.

Not only are the number of users significant, but the level of engagement Brazilians display in social networks is staggering. To put this in numbers, according to statistics from 2014 by market intelligence provider ComScore, 10% of all time spent on social networks in the world comes from Brazil.

Most common social network usage

The most common uses for social networks in Brazil were surveyed by market research company Nielsen in 2012. The most common reasons to access these websites, as expected, was found to be interacting with friends and family members, but there were also many other intriguing uses for social media found in the research.

For one, entertainment was found to be one of the most popular motivations for Brazilians to engage in social networks. Brands who take part in these social networks have found ways to explore the entertainment language used by Brazilian users and this way engage the country’s audience effectively. These companies have also benefited from the fact that Brazilian social network users are more prone to engage with their favorite brands than users in other markets.

According to a study by marketing solutions provider ExactTarget, 77% of Brazilian online consumers interact with brands on Facebook, while 26% follow their favorite brands on Twitter, rates which are higher than what is found in markets such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Gaming has also been perceived as one of the main reasons for a large number of Brazilians to engage in social networks, although recent studies suggest otherwise. A survey from 2015 by Blend New Research found that close to 47% of Brazilian gamers played in social networks, as opposed to the 71% found to play in these environments during 2013.

Popular and new social networks

According to data from 2014 by ComScore, Facebook gathers close to 98% of all time spent on social networks in Brazil, which makes the service the distant leader of this segment in the country. Global players such as Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Flickr and Pinterest also have a significant user base in Brazil, although worldwide popular services like Q-Zone, Weibo and VKontakte currently struggle to penetrate this market.

As of recent years, a number of social networks have managed to capture the attention of Brazilian audiences. For example, blogging network Tumblr has, for some years, been a mainstay in the minds of young Brazilians, especially in the teenage and young adult categories. These users are deeply engaged in this network and contribute to placing the website in fourth place in terms of total time spent monthly on social networks in the country.

A similar case can be made for Ask.fm, a platform for users to send questions anonymously to friends, which has recently expanded in the segment of Brazilian pre-teen and teenage users.

There are also cases of social networks designed and directed to a highly specific target audience that have expanded their reach in Brazil over the last few years. One of these is Skoob, a nationally-developed platform for book readers to share their favourite works and check other users reading lists.

The social network was created in 2009 and currently holds close to 2 million users in the country. The same concept has been applied to other networks, such as Filmow, who target movie enthusiasts, and Estou Jogando, a service where gamers can interact with friends and share experiences.

Meanwhile, many other initiatives have attempted to find room in certain niches of the country, which is the case of social networks directed to pet owners and social networks limited to interactions between two users, designed to help couples in day-to-day activities. Although these platforms hardly took off in Brazil, their premise serves as a practical example on how its users should keep finding new and innovative ways to interact online in the near future.

Innovation Norway is responsible for promoting the Norwegian industry abroad. Our office in Rio de Janeiro manages Innovation House Rio, our business incubator office, and helps Norwegian companies in their efforts towards the Brazilian market.

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