In December I had the pleasure of speaking about social media and internet marketing at the FMB conference in Belo Horizonte in Brazil.
The conference was amazing – lots of very friendly and passionate people. I had the opportunity to speak with a number of internet marketing and social media marketing people from Brazil and I learned a lot.
Here are the top things that I learned.
1. Facebook is Quickly Growing in Popularity in Brazil
In Brazil Orkut has been the main social network for many years, but recently Facebook has been taking over with triple digital growth. According to a recent Comscore study Facebook has only about a 20% share.
Despite the fact that Facebook is still relatively small, the audience was extremely interested in getting more involved in using Facebook for marketing purposes.
2. Speaking LOUDER and s l o w e r doesn’t help when people don’t understand the language.
Remember this. I don’t speak any Portuguese, and when I didn’t understand, people would often speak louder and slower. This doesn’t help when you don’t know the words.
3. Don’t Use Sarcasm when being Translated
My good friend and “the Smartest Man in the World”, Saul Colt learned this the hard way.
When speaking at the conference we were being translated. It was a cool experience. When other panelists were speaking or questions were asked we had headphones on to hear the English translation. When we spoke it shifted and the Portuguese speakers put on head phones to hear the translation of what we were saying.
At any rate, back to the sarcasm. Saul made a sarcastic joke about how his $40 a month music habit was a good replacement for his drug habit… and nobody laughed. Afterward the translator came up to him and said “I have to apologize, but I think that I told the audience that you were a drug addict”.
Note to self – sarcasm doesn’t translate well.
4. Twitter is extremely popular in Brazil – The highest reach IN THE WORLD
According to Comscore Twitter’s internet user penetration is at 23% – this is the highest in the world. The conference did a great job of publicizing the hashtag for the confernece to consolidate the Tweets around it.
I was told that it was even a trending topic on Twitter at some points.
5. Smart Phones and Cell Phones aren’t Mainstream in Brazil ($$$) – Yet
Apparently cell phone plans are extremely expensive in Brazil – especially when compared to average incomes. I was told that some people pay as much as the equivalent of $400 US for their cell phones, which apparently is close to the average monthly income in Brazil.
In order for smart phones to really take off the infrastructure will have to support more cost effective solutions.
6. Brazilians are Really Friendly
Everyone that I met at the conference was extremely helpful and friendly. The conference organizers went out of their way to make sure that we knew where to go and how to get around.
Even with the language barriers, people went out of their way to find us a translator or figure out what we needed.
The conference organizers, staff and Volunteers at the FMB were outstanding.
7. Even with Cultural Barriers Marketing Principles are the Same
Despite being in a different country with an entirely different culture, basic marketing principles still applied. The same principles of marketing in social media that apply in the US also apply in Brazil and South America.
While in some cases the tools are different (orkut vs. facebook) the strategic approach to social media is still the same.
8. Different Views About Authenticity
One of the biggest marketing differences that I noticed was that there were different views between the North and South Americans about the importance of authenticity.
A question came up about whether or not artists and musicians have to manage their own social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, etc) or if the account management can be outsourced.
Both Saul and I felt pretty strongly that the artist should Tweet themselves. People feel betrayed if they find out that the account isn’t legit.
Some of the Brazilians on the panel felt that it was perfectly ok to outsource and have ghost writers.
While this may have just been a difference of opinions on the panel and not specifically a North American vs. South American issue, I thought that it was pretty interesting.