What’s really eye opening about social media in Brazil, above and beyond the statistics about in-country use, is the fact that people in Brasilia, Sao Paulo and Rio are impacting the global conversation with disproportionate affect. As I write this post, the #1 trending topic on Twitter is #BrazilneedsJonas. People in New York, London, Toronto and Sydney (cities from the top four countries on Twitter) are likely not that concerned with the musical tastes of Brazilians, but the country with only 2% of the traffic has the bullhorn.
To capture the spotlight, Brazilians must be tweeting more homogeneously than the larger crowds in the U.S. and elsewhere. Why would that be the case? Cultural factors are at play.
Looking past the very Web 1.0 nature of their website, the Ministry of Environment, Secretariat of Biodiversity and Forests provides an example of these cultural factors at work. A valuable insight about Web 2.0 can be found between the lines. In putting together a list of endangered animals, the Ministry worked “hand-in-hand” with
> the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources
> the Biodiversitas Foundation for Conservation of Biological Diversity
> the Brazilian Zoology Society
> Brazilian Conservation International
“counting on hundreds of specialists who, after a year of hard work, produced a first version of the list.” This initial list was augmented by “over a thousand contributions sent in by other Brazilian specialists.” That effort then led “to a seminar which defined the final list of Brazilian endangered animal species.” The intentional degree to which diverse organizations and thousands of individual voices were included in the process is nothing short of remarkable. To put it succinctly, Brazilians are team players.
As the Jonas Twitterfest shows, the Brazilian propensity for communal involvement can quickly turn a spark into a firestorm using SMS. Another viral Twitter campaign in the country where a message gained traction took place about a week ago. A chord was suddenly struck with many fueling overnight opposition to otherwise well-established Senator José Sarney. A #forasarney hashtag jumped to the top of the trend chart, 5,000 followers jumped on a Fora Sarney Twitter feed, a newly created blog generated 14,000 comments and live protests were staged in the streets of major cities in the country.
What can companies that want to engage in the social media space in Brazil take away from these examples? Brave ones can tap a topic that the population is passionate about and forge a brand association somehow. It’s not a strategy for everyone, of course, but here’s three places to start: music, the environment and politics.
For example, a record label could put messaging out into the social media realm using the Jonas hashtag that until the Jonas Brothers return, tickets are available for the concert of another star that happens to be on their label. Some will flame the effort, some will debate the relative popularity of the groups and others will agree that the band is great. In any case, a new conversation will be launched, which is the whole point.
Make your brand one of them.