In Brazil, viewing social media through a new lens

This social media campaign used mixed martial arts to deliver a message about domestic violence.
This social media campaign used mixed martial arts to deliver a message about domestic violence.

In a country with immense social power, it's time to learn sophistication

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL — Among a global population of social-media addicts, Brazilians are true junkies – among the most active users on the planet.

The avid consumption of social media has afforded brands an opportunity to shape the social discourse in Brazil. Facebook earned headlines in the US when it used its influence in Brazil (its second-biggest global market) to help entrepreneurs in Sao Paulo’s biggest slum promote their business online.

In Rio de Janeiro in 2013, the promoters of  the Shooto Brazil 45 mixed martial arts event used social media to promote the world's first professional bout between a man and a woman. On the day of the fight, the organization disclosed that the fight was a publicity stunt  to raise awareness about a domestic violence law, reaching more than 40 million people with its message.

Another sports-themed campaign urged fans of São Paulo's Corinthian soccer team to donate blood. Using social media, the campaign reached 30 million fans who signed up to donate blood on the site The campaign featured the hashtag #BLOODTYPEC on the players' jerseys. 

Social media is a powerful engine in Brazil, but it’s time for brands to tune up its performance. They need to invest in a specialized work force and bring the best professionals into the agency structure — true specialists who think of social media as a platform for dialog, creating unique creative concepts that go viral, grab consumers and become part of pop culture. 

The ever-faster algorithmic changes affecting the reach of publications and online content on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube are putting greater pressure on the market to keep up. It’s clear that too few good strategies for digital communication are being proposed here in Brazil, while the need to innovate and present new solutions is ever more urgent.

The question goes beyond segmentation, mobile and media plans — which for some time now have become indispensable for any type of social media planning. The question is how to achieve measurable results via a strategy of innovative content that aligns a PR platform with concepts from the brand culture.

YouTube here has an audience similar to the biggest pay TV channels in the world. According to February 2015 data from ComScore, about 65 million Brazilians watch more than 11 billion online videos monthly. YouTube accounts for 53 million viewers; Facebook, 49 million; and Maker Studios, 21 million.

Instagram's influence in Brazil outstrips many traditional publications — but often at the expense of quality, since little investment is allocated for digital production.

Today, Brazil needs social activations that match the quality of other media. That means hiring well-qualified social media teams. Digital advertising has already proven it can inspire massive participation. Now it's time to improve the professionalism of the discipline to allow brands to engage in the daily life of consumers.

Tito Ribeiro is founder and chairman of Agencybrazil, a digital agency based in São Paulo.

This article was translated from Portuguese by Jennifer Sarah Cooper.

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