Seller beware!

seller bewareBrazilians are using social media en masse, to the tune of 67 million people or 34% of the population with Internet access and spending an average of 19.3 hours online for personal use, compared to 9.8 hours watching television. Brands with an eye on the Brazilian consumer are right to think social media is a good to excellent way of connecting their product to that market. It is tempting even to view social media in relation to the high number of Brazilian users and knowing that Brazilians are second only to Russians when it comes to time spent engaging online  as the ultimate miracle pill. I have just two words of caution: seller beware!

The paradigm has shifted from broadcast, one-way communication to a two-way model exemplified by the increased popularity of social media. The way people receive and share information is inherently at odds with the traditional ways that marketers have sold their wares. KD Paine points out in Measuring Public Relationships:

The Internet has brought about a revolution in marketing far beyond the scope that even the most forward-thinking of us might have imagined… despite the best efforts of PR and marketing types, consumers continue to seize power from the marketers.

In the 30 years from 1970 to 2000, Brazil’s urban population grew from 58 to 80 percent. With urbanization comes decentralization and with decentralization comes disconnection. Brazilian culture is strongly rooted in community and that characteristic has been given by some as a reason for Orkut‘s dominant position as the social network of choice for Brazilians.

Industrialization has made nomads of us and robbed us of the expectation that we will live, work and die in close-knit communities where everybody knows our name. Social media does its best to help us recreate a sense of community and interconnectedness. We  find our professional place on Linkedin, create a virtual lounge of ‘friends’ on Facebook and we even have a place to show off our quick wit in 140 characters or less on Twitter. Social media lets us choose where we fit in, who we fit in with and how we want to connect.

Marketers should know that it is not enough to target Brazilians where they spend their time online. A good strategy must leverage the cultural insight that Brazilians are very community-oriented. Your chance of success is greater if you understand and use that influential.  Gilberto Junior of Brazil’s leading digital advertising company Amanaiê:

Digital display ads are working less and [becoming] less relevant over time. The new digital media is that one that engages the customer … that is so relevant that the user wants to install it on their public personal profile on a social network.

BBB9 application

BBB9 application

Brands can learn from the Big Brother Brazil 9 (BBB9) case study on Amanaiê’s Web site. The agency created an application that displayed the remaining contestants each week and allowed users to guess who would win or lose, compare their predictions and even see their ranking against friends.  The campaign worked for 3 reasons:

  1. It called users to action by asking them to guess the week’s winner or loser
  2. It connected users to Orkut friends and other players by ranking their cumulative scores
  3. It rewarded users’ interest with contestant news and photos

The campaign worked because it was about two-way engagement not a one-way  broadcast and it was about making individual fans a part of the wider community of fans on Orkut by comparing scores not just with friends but other users as well. In short, it was about the Brazilian consumer.

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4 Responses to Seller beware!

  1. Nice progression in this post, where you start with stats, then move to a broader societal discussion of how all of our lives are being alternately disrupted and enriched by social media. What brings this point to life in a real way is your choice of example and you use it well to demonstrate how social media can and should be used to successfully target the Brazilian customer. Excellent job. (4)

  2. Alex Greenbaum says:

    I love the first photo; it’s hilarious and perfect for this post. I also enjoyed reading your commentary about industrialized society and the emerging role of social media. I don’t know if it will pull us out of our “nomadic” culture, but giving us a sense of community is a step in the right direction.

  3. mintybeth says:

    The Big Brother application is right on target, echoing some of the most popular Facebook applications in the United States. Like you pointed out, people who use social networking sites want to connect with people and to engage in activity. The Big Brother app allows its users to connect to one another, feel connected to the contestants, and connect with the show. This makes the users feel involved and invested in the show’s outcome and the success (or failure) of the contestants. It is a remarkably simple application, but I am sure that many businesses fail on Orkut because they try to have too many bells and whistles or, like you said, they fail to have a two-way conversation.

  4. Quentin says:

    I really like the story telling of your post. You have three sections, Internet statistics, historical issues, and a real would example that moves the reader through your ideas. I also really like how you used the colored pull quotes and good use of photos.

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