Is Facebook doing for Brazil what Broadcast Television did for the US?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting this week that Brazilians are gaga for social media.

Loretta Chao writes:

People in Brazil are spending increasing amounts of time connected to social-media sites. Globally, the average time spent on Facebook dropped 2% to 361 average minutes per user per month by September 2012, compared with a year earlier, according to comScore research.

But in Brazil, Facebook time grew 208% to 535 minutes over the same period. Meanwhile, the average time spent per YouTube visitor in Brazil grew 5% to 140 minutes, even as it dropped 3% to 161 minutes world-wide.

So in the midst of all the consternation happening with the folks at Facebook and elsewhere about a Pew report that people taking a break from social media, Brazilians are sharing yuks online about Canadian expats and horrific prank videos.

Could Facebook then, along with other social media, be having the same impact on the country that broadcast television did 60 years ago in the United States?

Broadcast TV in 1950’s America ushered in cultural and social changes at a time when the country was already changing rapidly. As more people could afford televisions, advertising and content production scaled up from local to national and everything became more lucrative.

But more important were the cultural changes it wrought. Television made people want to “look and be looked at“, it put paid to regional accents, and it connected people across a vast and rapidly-developing country. Sound familiar?

Brazil is in the midst of serious changes today. Its middle class is growing, its politics are maturing, and its 200 million plus citizens are stridently stepping out into the world.

Like Americans, Brazilians are social creatures and have a broad understanding “friendship” that meshes well with Facebook’s vision of our social lives. Alex Hohaghen, Facebook’s sales director in Brazil could have been talking about Americans when he said in the same WSJ article:

“it’s common for someone to start talking to you in the elevator or in a restaurant just to start a conversation,” says Alexandre Hohagen, vice president of Facebook’s Latin America division.

Brazilian users especially like to chat, almost constantly, about TV shows, sports and news, he says. “I think our culture…really makes people much more open to include and connect to friends.”

I don’t want to overanalyze, but I don’t think it’s at all a stretch to call social media a transformational tool at a transformational moment in Brazil. It’s bringing a huge country together that is socially and racially diverse but united in patriotic pride. It’s providing new opportunities for companies to gain size and scale across Brazil’s consumer landscape. And it’s helping show the world the innovative power and creativity of a nation.

Doesn’t that sound familiar?

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One response to “Is Facebook doing for Brazil what Broadcast Television did for the US?

  1. I agree with when you say “I don’t want to overanalyze, but I don’t think it’s at all a stretch to call social media a transformational tool at a transformational moment in Brazil”

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