Tweet the Power!

August 15, 2009

Twenty years ago, the rap group Public Enemy dropped one of the greatest rap songs of all time, Fight the Power! It appears two decades later, my brothers and sisters from across the pond have begun to fight the power via twitter.
Gordo brownOver the past week, I’ve been trying to master social media in the UK, it turns out that Gordon Brown,  Britain’s Prime Minister, would provide one of the best examples of social media mobilization campaign. The Leader of the Labour Party has begun to defend Britain’s National Healthcare System (NHS) by joining a Twitter campaign defending the health service from attacks by Republicans intent on derailing President Obama’s healthcare bill.

Britons angry at the attacks have organised a campaign on the micro-blogging site, which has also been joined by the health secretary, Andy Burnham. The social networking site crashed yesterday with the volume of messages for the #welovethenhs campaign.

twitterIt is because of a social media tool like twitter that this cross continental campaign is possible. This will no doubt be an exciting exploration of how social media tools impacting politics. This situation wasn’t created in a vacuum but a culmination of several factors.
UK is an engaged social networking community. Of the 34 million internet users, 27 million actively visited a social network site. However, individuals in London are leaders and are even more actively engaged. The city was recently declared as the new twitter capital of the world. The city has embraced the idea of creating a community on line to share and communicate. They have taken it a step further and have mobilized to influence change and stand up for themselves.
Moreover, this situation has generated additional attention because of the use of traditional media as well. Brown and other ministers have begun campaigning on American soil giving interviews to tell and share their story and not let the country be exploited and misrepresented unfairly by the hard right.
I can’t help but wonder would American’s collectively rise up against another country via social media? I doubt most Americans would rally around just one issue in another country. We all know the exploits of the Obama campaign to use social media to secure the election. However, this case should serve as a solid reminder to US politicians to remember that politics are no longer local, but global. 2009 may serve as another summer where we’ll see power may belong to the people as you gotta Tweet the Power!


Unsocial Social Media: A Recipe for Brand Destruction

August 3, 2009

UK Social Network Statistics (July 2009) posted by Clicky Media reports that on-line social networking has become very much a mainstream activity for UK Internet users of all ages.   The report states that 80% of ALL the UK’s on-line population visited a social networking site in May 2009 and the average UK Internet user spent 4.6 hours on Social Networking sites over  a one month period.

Among the UK’s most popular Social Networking sites Facebook has long ranked #1 with over 19 million active users.  Bebo followed as the second  (8.5 million visitors), then Windows Live Profile  (6.9 million visitors) and MySpace (6.5 million visitors).

Last, but certainly not least in the UK top five social networking sites is Twitter (2.7 million visitors)  which has vastly grown  in site visitors numbers by 3000% over the last 12 months according to ComScore.

In efforts to capitalize on the growing Social Media phenomenon of Twitter, one trendy UK furniture store, Habitat UK, began microblogging on twitter to spread word to consumers about upcoming sales and store promotions.

Sounds innocent enough except, Habitat decided to use trending topic #hashtags at the start of their tweets to gain exposure.  Habitat used top twitter-hash-logo-for-fluidtrend hash tags such as #iPhone, #mms and #Apple–a somewhat clever, yet very messy strategy on their part.  The spamming quickly became noticeable and the Twitter community tweeted about it for days voicing their disappointment much to the embarrassment of the HabitaDt.

Sample tweets regarding Habitat’s poor marketing strategy included:

“…Sad day when reputable brand resorts to using trend hash tags to advertise”

and

“…not what you expect from an otherwise classy brand…”

Habitat’s response to this backlash was to delete their offending tweets and replace them with some generic product and sales promotional tweets.

But can the reputation damage  this brand suffered be repaired so easily?

Later realizing that perhaps not enough was done on their part to clear up the messy hash tag incident, Habitat released this apology:

I know people have been waiting for a response tweet from us; we are treating this very seriously and wanted to offer a longer message. We have been reading everyone’s comments carefully and would like to make a very sincere apology to any Twitter users who were offended.

The top ten trending topics were pasted into hashtags without checking with us and apparently without verifying what all of the tags referred to. This was absolutely not authorised by Habitat. We were shocked when we discovered what happened and are very sorry for the offense that was caused. This is totally against our communications strategy. We never sought to abuse Twitter, have removed the content and will ensure this does not happen again.

It has been really valuable to hear how users would like us to use Twitter and we are determined to do better for the Twitter community.

I find this Habitat case study well  illustrates the power of social media and how its user-generated comments and conversation can build or destroy a brand. Ignoring a conversation in social media and not responding effectively can greatly  impact a brands bottom line.  If unsocial social media is a recipe for brand destruction, then Social Media Monitoring is surely the only cure. It would be wise of brands to be prepared for the negative impact social media sites can wield via preventive measures in “Social Media Monitoring”.

habitat-uk-twitter-fail

Steps to effective Social Media Monitoring include:

Start by listening to social media.  Free tools such as whostalkin.com, socialmention.com or Google alerts can help you track down buzz around your brand to get an idea of what a brands on-line social media landscape looks like and to identify brand mentions and conversations around your brand.   If the  brand is global with a huge web presence, then it may be best to use a social media agency to produce an audit or on-line landscape analysis.

Join the conversation. The key to managing and maintaining brand reputation within social media is to be part of the conversation.  Investing time in engaging with customers through social media helps brands build relationships, developing trust and show value to their customers.
If a brand discovers negative or factually incorrect buzz –they should react quickly so the information is not spread further via blogs or micro-blogging sites.    A recipient of bad service will tell at least ten people and many more  if they are a blogger or active on social networks. The earlier a brand learns of dissatisfaction the faster they can react.

Transparent Communications.  Open and honest communications can protect your brand against the perils of social media.  If something goes wrong, brands should not be defensive as it will encourage further negativity.  Instead, brands should simply explain their position, let their customers know how they plan on rectifying the situation and invite feedback.

Social Media Strategy
.   Brands can push down negative posts indexed by search engines  If  a company has a blog, they can respond with a formal blog post making sure that its title features keywords that match the negative posts or content. This will help to add positive search engine results, .Counteract anonymous and negative comments by highlighting testimonials from some of your best customers. In support of the blog post you can use your Twitter account to raise awareness of your response. Depending on the scale of the negative reaction you can respond via video or audio in the form of webcasts and podcasts. If you have an on-line community, you can host the conversation on your own website, confining the negativity to one area and allowing you to respond immediately.

With ever-increasing popularity and immediacy of social networking sites such a Twitter on the rise in the UK, brands would be wise to recognize the value of proper engagement strategies and incorporate social media monitoring in their communications plans otherwise risk becoming victim of unrepairable brand damage.


Mind the Gap

July 29, 2009

Social media in the United Kingdom is becoming more popular according to a survey conducted a few months ago. According to Hitwise, “UK Internet users are spending less of their online time shopping and more time browsing online media.”Online_retailers_upstream_traffic_from_social_networks_email_webmail_UK_2009_2008_chart 

This  is a reported reversal from one year ago.

 Twitter use has also registered a huge spike in the UK.  Just this week, it was reported that “the micro-blogging site has popularized amongst the UK masses to such an extent that it attracted traffic 22-fold in just a year, being the fastest amongst all other sites.”

Not suprisingly, with these kinds of numbers, the UK is seeing the same kind of defection from newspapers to online news sources that is being experienced around the globe.  Another Hitwise survey found that in the UK, “print readership of newspapers has dropped by a staggering 5 million in 15 years. This equates to nearly a 20% decrease.”  

According to Social Media Trader, prominent newspapers in the UK have recognized the shift and most are responding.  Most newspapers’ online editions now are Web 2.0, as detailed below.   

Newspapers Icons* Popular** Video Blog/Profile*** Digg FP
Times 310
The Independent 139
The Telegraph 183
The Daily Express   0
The Sun 18
The Mirror 14
The Guardian 443
The Daily Mail 309
The Daily Star 1
Financial Times Planned 44

*Social news and bookmarking Icons for easy submission.
**Shows most popular, most emailed or most commented stories on the front page. Front page content determined by users.
***Has own blog or profile

mid-Mind_the_gap_oggThere is an slogan in England, “Mind the Gap”, that refers to the divide between the platform floor at the Underground and the train idling at the station.  It is a phrase that has worked itself into the vernacular and warns of the dangers associated with a disconnect between two areas.  It is an interesting reminder for us as we head to London with all its grandeur and history, to learn more about how respected brands like The Times of London – in print since 1785 – are working to adapt to the new world of social media. Just yesterday stateside, a respected national news brand, The Washington Post  announced the launch of a brand new mobile Web site characterized as “the definitive mobile news source for Washington. Unparalleled local and national news and analysis helps you stay informed and connected on-the-go.”  The swift shift in how the public now receives its news could not have been predicted even a decade ago.

As we spend our last week of class together, I know I’ll be thinking of these dichotomies, how fast social media is changing our field and how this class is working to arm us in real time with what we need to “mind the gap” in our own lives – both personally and professionally.  


Reaching Chinese Audiences Through Social Media

July 26, 2009

Despite reports of the various problems in China, the country’s economy continues to grow, serving as an enticing target to local and foreign entities wanting to expand there.

Skyline of Shanghai, China's largest city and mainland China's business center.

Skyline of Shanghai, China's largest city and mainland China's business center.

The country is positioned to surpass Japan as the world’s second largest economy (after the recession-stricken U.S. economy) at the end of this year, according to Tom Rauch of the Associated Press.

Although the use of the Internet and various forms of social media are heavily censored and monitored, Internet and mobile phone use in China is on the rise. This provides organizations willing to make some investment in social media as part of their strategy with plenty of opportunity to make inroads into the Chinese market.

Much like in the U.S. market, being informed, being authentic and engaging in conversation would serve a company well. But to successfully carry out a social media campaign in China, companies should also recognize the differences in the Chinese market, and tailor their strategies and choices of social media tools to the conditions of that market.

In a recent article, Forbes stated that Chinese Internet users, also known as netizens, spend nearly two billion hours online each week, compared to 129 million hours per week for users in the United States. These numbers reflect only a limited portion of the population, not a majority, so the growth could be significantly higher in years to come.

The 298 million people online only account for 23 percent of the Chinese population and may not offer the greatest reach cities beyond a certain tier, according to Sam Flemming, CEO and co-founder of CIC, a leading Internet Word of Mouth (IWOM) Research and Consulting firm in China.

Despite the small percentage, for those on the web, it is indeed a primary media, according to Flemming.

“Numerous studies have suggested that Chinese netizens spend upwards of twice the amount of time online as they do watching TV,” Flemming wrote. “Compared to traditional media, digital is so much more varied, exciting and open. It serves the primary platform for consumers to find information, be entertained and socialize: 81.5% of netizens get their news online and … QQ, China’s leading social internet platform, is bigger than Facebook.”

Social networking site QQ claims to have had more than 200 million monthly active users in January 2009.

Social networking site QQ claims to have had more than 200 million monthly active users in January 2009.

Flemming added that China has the most mobile phones in the world, and more people there access the Internet via mobile phone than other methods (they often access a site trough their phones before accessing via computer). According to Forbes, 400 million use cell phones in China, with over 6.1 million mobile users connecting online.

[The Forbes numbers are attributed to Dr. Charles Zhang, chairman and CEO of Beijing-based Sohu.com, an Internet company. The numbers are higher than those reported by other organizations, such as the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). According to Forbes, Zhang’s internal research revealed that Chinese Internet users numbered over 150 million (possibly up to 200 million) and that Sohu.com was in the top five most trafficked sites in the world. Zhang attributed the discrepancy and “lower-than-accurate” CNNIC numbers to the organization’s polling methodology (calling land lines).
“Young people do not use fixed line phones. They all have mobile phones,” Zhang said.]

Blogger Enid Burns quoted Netpop Research President John Crandall’s suggestion that businesses create unique experiences tailored to both the Web and mobile Web.

“It’s more important to do so now more than ever, and provide them [mobile users] with that experience that is tailored to that device, because it might be their first experience to the brand,” Crandall said. “Then bring them back to the PC, through the consistent login experience, a consistent branding experience, offering more marketing abilities through the computer, because the computer may offer more marketing real estate than the mobile device.”
Although the Chinese are using applications like Facebook and Twitter, and their equivalent or similar Chinese counterparts, Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes) seem to be the most widely used form of social media. In 2008, there were over 3 billion registered BBS users in China. (A user may register on multiple forums.)

Although the relatively low Internet penetration rate, Flemming said, social participation is very high, with “more bloggers (162 million) and more places online to be social than any other market in the world.”

According to recent statistics on Internet use published by Shanghaiist, blogging is about five times more popular in China than in the U.S. Their report also states that the typical Chinese Internet user is likely to simultaneously listen to music online and use an instant messaging service.

Flemming had some recommendations to connect with the online community in China. Loosely paraphrased and augmented, they include the following:

Find out who’s talking and what they are talking about. Flemming wrote that to build connections, communicators must conduct a “community audit”, similar to a media audit. The community audit involves a systematic mapping out of key blogs, BBS forums, QQ groups and other community channels for the brand and its industry. As a result of conducting this audit, businesses gain insight into the communities and their culture, Flemming stated—including conversation topics, which topics are the most sticky or talked about, how topics are handled and how different groups (e.g., teenagers) are discussing them.

Contribute value to the community. By gaining insight into the various communities, marketers can identify opportunities to reach out and connect with the communities on another level. Flemming mentioned sponsorship of “fubai” or offline meet-ups by companies like Crocs as one example.

Connect with “efluencers”. Just like a business person maintains mutually beneficial relationships with traditional business contacts, marketers must also remember to maintain similar relationships with “effluencers”, or influencers.

Find your voice and use it. Engage consumers by listening and communicating with them online, not just in times of crisis, but also as a regular activity, such as providing advice on a specific topic or recommendations on the use of the company’s products. In discussing the challenge faced by computer manufacturers like Dell and Lenovo “is to find an authentic voice to talk back and participate in the conversation,” Flemming said. He added that Dell has multiple blogs, including one in Chinese, along with microblogging accounts on Twitter and the Chinese site Fanfou. (The latter was not available at the time this post was published.)

The Great Wall of China. Government efforts to monitor and censor the Internet are sometimes referred to as "the Great Firewall of China". Photo credit: National Geographic

The Great Wall of China. Government efforts to monitor and censor the Internet are sometimes referred to as "the Great Firewall of China". Photo credit: National Geographic

Marketers should also remember that, with the high engagement and high participation also comes significant government monitoring and censorship.

As evidenced earlier this month after the Xinjiang riots, the government can swiftly block or limit Internet and cell phone access as a means to control information flow to and from all or part of the country.

Disturbing though these practices might be, the situation is not likely to change any time soon, so marketers should remember that:

  • Social media should be treated as an element of their overall strategy (not the strategy)
  • Relationships should always be developed and maintained
  • Offline relationships are also valuable and can be key to maintaining continuity of operations in case of an online outage

Can Social Media Advance P2P Lending in China?

July 25, 2009

Ask any Western blogger or human rights activist about China, and they’ll tell you that the People’s Republic has evolved into the poster child for Internet censorship.

The Golden Shield, also known as the Great Firewall of China, is the subject of countless blog posts and Web media articles.  China’s decision to renege on its pledge to provide unrestricted internet access to journalists at the Beijing Olympics became one of the biggest stories of the Games.  And the shutdown of Twitter, Blogger and others on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre generated criticism from a myriad of social media experts.

But despite the fact that China and censorship have become synonymous, social media has given rise to a unique philanthropic venture based in Shanghai.

QifangPeer-to-peer (P2P) lending, popularized by organizations like Kiva and The Grameen Foundation, has found a niche in China with Qifang, a microfinance website for Chinese students who are looking for loans to finance their education.

“Qifang” comes from the Chairman Mao quote, “Bai Hua Qi Fang,” meaning, “Let a hundred flowers bloom.”

Qifang primarily serves students at three or four-year universities or colleges and post-graduate training programs.  Any Chinese undergraduate who has received an admission letter or valid student ID can post their needs on www.qifang.cn.  Loans range from RMB 3,000 to 100,000.

Lenders include banks, corporations, NGOs, non-profits, philanthropists, and individual private donors.

In China, there are 76.7 million Internet users between the ages of 18 and 24 years (no other age group comes close in terms of number of users).  Qifang’s founder estimates there are 25 million students in China who pay an average tuition of $700 a year.  That translates into $17.5 billion in potential loans, providing Qifang with an enormous target market given that it has so few competitors.

The combination of Qifang’s web services and social media tools help students and lenders establish “communities of trust” built around supporting education.  Qifang’s primary social media tools are a blog (which is nearly impossible to review in English), and four unique A Qifang student widgetwidgets.  Each widget is a compilation of information about a student in need including a profile picture, the name of the student’s school, the amount of their requested loan, the amount they have raised so far, and a description of their need (e.g., “I want to finish college without any debt”).

The student featured in the widget is randomly selected by Qifang, and the widget can easily be pasted into blogs, websites, or social media profiles.  When a student’s loan has been 100% funded, Qifang’s system randomly selects another listing that needs promotion.

Qifang labels itself as an “innovator in technology,” but the principles which guide its strategy in China are relatively simple and straightforward:

  1. Find a gap in the market and fill it.  Experts contend that P2P lending will have a greater impact in China than in Western countries because of the absence of other consumer banking alternatives.  Today, Qifang has only one competitor, and with 25 million students in China, there is a great need for reliable loan solutions.
  2. Calculate and develop strategies to mitigate risk.  Each Qifang loan recipient is required to scan in their national ID cards to verify who they are, and list their school, major, grades, hometown, parents ID cards and income before obtaining a loan.  Qifang is reportedly creating partnerships with the schools directly so that the information students’ supply is verified, and so that loan payments can be made directly to educational institutions.
  3. Support existing government initiatives to avoid controversy.  Bloggers have speculated that Qifang’s platform is indirectly supported by the Chinese government’s recent push for creating a more “civil society” in China, a society in which citizens trust one another more.  If this is true, it puts Qifang in the enviable position of being a company which (indirectly) advances government initiatives. (Note the founder of Qifang attributes some of their success to “a really supportive government” in the video above.)

It will be interesting to see if other microfinance sites pop up in the wake of Qifang’s success, and if they use social media to do it.  It’s possible that they’ll operate using the same guideposts I’ve described here.  But if China is at a tipping point for embracing social media for social good, it also has the potential to devolve further into Internet censorship.


Incorporating Social Media into Efforts to Boost Tourism

July 19, 2009

brandWhile conducting research on Brazil this week and thinking of an upcoming trip, my thoughts turned frequently to the country’s tourism industry. Despite a high level of social media usage among its residents, and a visually appealing, content-rich online presence, Brazil’s official tourism efforts seem to make a limited use of social media at this time.

When planning a trip to destinations near or far, many travelers turn to the Internet for information first. Although guidebooks are portable and relatively compact sources of information, a few clicks and keystrokes can deliver a universe of information right to someone’s desktop or hand-held device in seconds. In addition to provider-generated content, sites such as TravelAdvisor, Frommers and Fodor’s have resulted in online traveler communities rich with user-generated content on destinations around the world. Travelers turn to these sites not only to get basic information about their destination and its attractions, but also to get the inside scoop from others on what a hotel or neighborhood is really like, which restaurants are not worth stepping into and what attractions should not be missed.

Social media tools add another dimension to this, with blogs providing more detailed insight into specific locations, photo-sharing sites like Flickr and Picasa enabling anyone to share their travel photos and Twitter enabling travelers to share real-time information about trip events.

The hospitality industry has taken notice, and government organizations responsible for tourism, such as Brazil’s Tourism Board (EMBRATUR) have taken steps to include social media tools as part of their strategy to boost tourism to their countries as well as internal tourism opportunities for locals. Unfortunately, this is not evident without some searching.

A series of videos produced as part of the Brasil Sensacional! (Sensational Brazil!) campaign showcase the country’s stunning beauty. In addition, the country collaborated with the Green Living Project (GLP) as part of the GLP’s efforts to document sustainability initiatives in selected locations in South America earlier this year.

Unfortunately, it seems to stop there and the connections are not readily apparent after a visit to the Tourism Board’s site. (If there are, they did not easily turn up on searches of Orkut, Facebook, Twitter or Google.)

As a potential visitor, I was surprised that I could not find much government-generated social media content beyond the videos posted on the Tourism Board’s YouTube channel, particularly considering the popularity of social networking applications in Brazil.

Brazilian site PoliTweets tracks politicians using Twitter.

Brazilian site PoliTweets tracks politicians using Twitter.

Although virtually unknown in the U.S., Google’s Orkut social network dominates the Brazilian market—holding 79 percent of it. A Comscore report shows that Orkut enjoys a 79 percent market share in Brazil. (Only 1 percent of Brazilian internet users are on Facebook, according to the Comscore data.) A June 2009 Sysomos study states that Brazil is the fifth-largest nation of Twitter users, with about 200,000 users. And it’s not just Marisa in Sao Paolo using Twitter—it’s also President Ignacio Lula da Silva, 17 senators, 46 federal congressmen, 11 state congressmen and 39 councilmen, too, according to Brazilian site PoliTweets. (Brazil also has the highest percentage of users of all of the non-English speaking countries polled in the Sysomos study.)

Comscore reported that Brazil has the world’s second most engaged social networking audience, after Russia. A study released by Deloitte states that Brazilian consumers spend an average of 19.3 hours online for personal use versus 9.8 hours watching TV. Approximately 67 million Brazilians (or 34 percent of the population) have internet access.

So, given the popularity of social media in Brazil, I was surprised to find so little official use of social media for tourism purposes. The posting of videos on YouTube seems like a step in the right direction, but as it seeks to expand and enhance its tourism industry, Brazil might find that travelers like that personal connection that other forms of social media offer.

Despite the high incidence of personal use of social media applications in Brazil such as Twitter and Orkut, and some references to Brazilian tourism in a handful of blogs, it seems as if there is still much room to expand. For example, the Brazilian tourism portal does not include links to Twitter (for something as simple as weather or event updates throughout the vast country), Orkut and Facebook (for internal and external fans and potential visitors to post feedback and photos) or a tourism blog.

For now, the country’s limited use of social media does not seem be hurting it, though.

Official Brazilian tourism website provides information for visitors.

Official Brazilian tourism website provides information for visitors.

In a statement at the Global Travel and Tourism Summit in Florianopolis in May, Tourism Minister Luiz Barreto said that more than 5 million foreigners visited Brazil last year, spending almost $6 billion dollars in the country in 2008, an increase of 16.8% more than the amount spent by foreign travelers in Brazil in 2007. Barreto stated that in addition to visits from other countries, that the country has potential internal market of 100,000,000 tourists, with Brazilians now sustaining 85 percent of tourist activity. (Brazil is the fifth-largest country in the world, extending over 47 percent of the geographical area of the South American continent and a population of nearly 200 million.)

The country is investing heavily in its infrastructure (about $304 billion) and is paying considerable attention to its tourism industry, particularly as it prepares for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and seeks to host the 2016 Olympics.  Ample opportunities exist for infrastructure developers and those affiliated with the hospitality industry to not only expand their bricks-and-mortar businesses, but also to use social media to communicate about their services—and for the Tourism Board to communicate about activities and events in real or near-real time. Dispatches from Rio’s carnival or the World Cup, anyone?

Perhaps their future efforts to expand tourism include expanding their use of social media?


King of all Social Media

July 19, 2009

king

Howard Stern may be the self proclaimed king of all media. However, Brazil’s Marcelo Tas very well may be the king of all Social Media.  A TV celebrity known for his quick wit and engaging interviews that can range from the ridiculous to the sublime.  Marcelo has a hugely popular blog on Brazil’s UOL.  He also  ranked number one in Brazil with the number of followers on Twitter according to twitterholic and 284 within the entire Twitter universe with 173,043.  Less than six month ago, he had just a mere 18,000 followers (BTW…Howard Stern only has 56,000 followers).

 However, what makes Marcelo so appealing to marketers is his acute awareness on how to harness social media. In March, Marcelo became one of the first celebrities to sign a major endorsement deal with the social media giant.

 

 Telefónica SA recently approached him to help pitch the Spanish telecom company’s new fiber-optic Internet and TV service in Brazil… Digital agency iThink, in São Paulo, conceived the Twitter campaign and signed Mr. Tas. Telefónica’s fiber-optic service, called Xtreme, is geared to heavy Internet users and is available to only 370,000 homes in Brazil. A TV campaign would have reached too broad a public, says the company’s marketing director, Luiz Carlos Pimentel. According to iThink, Mr. Tas will limit his Telefónica-related “tweets” to about 20 a month.

 

Brazil is the perfect market for endorsing via social media.  It is one of the fastest growing internet markets with 197 million people and 68 million on the internet (35%).  A June 2009 social media indicates Brazil is the fifth-largest nation of Twitter users making up two percent of all users and the highest percentage of users of all of the non-English speaking countries. Celebrities, soccer clubs, and politicians have all embraced Twitter as a viable medium where engaged users and influencers can drive marketing, news, and communications.

In our pop culture celebrity centric world, it isn’t a bad thing for celebrities to use their influence.  As long as the celebrities, like in Marcelo’s case, are doing the twittering themselves and not Telefonica’s tweeting for them.  Moreover, marketers and celebrities should make sure their products are relevant.  Marcelo deal is with a fiber optic service which makes sense for a social media guru, but if Ronaldinho tried endorsing Belissima Sim, a Brazilian Diet Pills, it loses all relevance to the audience.  Overall, Brazil’s engagement in social media is influential and the growth makes it a viable option for marketers.