Latin America’s appetite for social media has seen substantial and consistent growth the last few years. In the first two quarters of 2015, the volume of social media messages sent to brands in the region increased by 21.2%. Today, Spanish and Portuguese speakers comprise one of the most vocal markets on social media. But how much are brands actually engaging this increasingly important audience?
In short, not enough. A recent study we conducted analyzed data from 14 countries and across 15 industries in Latin America and found that brands could be doing a lot more to effectively connect with audiences in the region. Brands in Latin America remain largely unresponsive to consumer needs on social media. Seven out of eight messages sent to brands in Latin America go unanswered—the equivalent of a customer service representative failing to answer the phone 88% of the time.
But there are considerable variations depending on industry. Government accounts receive the most messages but are the slowest to get back to consumers, with an average response time of 19.9 hours. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the utilities industry has the fastest response time, averaging 4.67 hours. The data also differs significantly by country. Seventy-four percent of all messages sent to Paraguayan brands require a response, compared to only 21% of messages sent to brands in Uruguay.
When it comes to audiences in Latin America, how can marketers avoid a one-way conversation on social media? Here are some strategies to spark engagement and get the conversation flowing.
Understand the nuances of the different countries and regions you are targeting.
If the data reveals anything about Latin America, it’s that consumer experiences and expectations differ greatly across the region.
Marketers should tailor their social media strategies to the countries they’re operating in. Social media content that works well in Peru might not always fly with audiences in Brazil. Brands should familiarize themselves with the needs and desires specific to each country they choose to do business in. Which social platforms are the most popular in which countries? Which demographics are the most active on those platforms? What are other brands in your industry doing to engage consumers?
For example, brands entering the Ecuadorian market should expect to face an extremely vocal social media audience, as Ecuador has the highest volume of inbound messages in Latin America. On the other hand, Panamanian users are accustomed to the fastest response time in Latin America, 5.78 hours. If a brand wants to succeed in Panama, they should plan accordingly by emphasizing speedy responses to messages on social media.
Create content that resonates with various audiences.
Marketers should always strive to make their social media content relatable, authentic and relevant. By analyzing user demographics, data and interactions with the brand’s social media accounts, brands can track trends and determine which types of content have the greatest appeal. From there, marketers can formulate a strategy around content that works the best for their target audience.
Brands can also create content around popular events in the target country or region, like national holidays or athletic competitions. Joining the conversation in an appropriate, genuine way helps humanize the brand while engaging consumers in conversation that’s relevant to other parts of their lives.
Treat social as a conversation-starter.
Social media content and interactions are highly visible and, more importantly, shareable. As brands field customer queries, they should respond under the assumption that other potential customers are watching to see how they respond—if at all. The influence of social media on consumer decision-making continues to grow, and brands that cultivate conversation stand to deepen connections with their customers while gaining visibility in front of a wider audience.
Ultimately, quick and timely responses to customer queries on social media should be a priority for any company. Prioritizing social responsiveness is a crucial first step as brands strive to deliver a customer service experience that resonates with different audiences, while taking into account the specific tastes and preferences of each country. In turn, brands can ensure maximum impact and engagement in Latin America.