Imagine a newspaper that talks–yes, imagine a newspaper that talks to you!
Or imagine a grocery store suggesting what to cook for dinner using only products on sale. Or being part of a radio show without calling in. Or taking part in a presidential campaign by adding an electronic presidential button to your Twitter avatar. These scenarios are all taking place today in Latin America. How? The short answer: Twitter.
Twitter has become a useful tool in Latin America in areas such as media, retail, and politics. For example, Diario Uno, a newspaper in Mendoza, Argentina, is known as the newspaper that “talks” because it interacts directly with its audience through Twitter. “Our Twitter followers’ response in seeing that a newspaper reply to them has been enriching and has created a special loyalty to our newspaper,” said Nacho Castro, the person who is in charge of Tweeting for Diario Uno.
Because more than 70% of the Latin American population has access to a cell phone, mobile technology has reached critical mass in the region, which has facilitated the integration of Twitter. According to the research paper “Mobile Internet User Experience in Latin America,” people in Latin America prefer to interact directly with one another rather than through a technology device. But if an application is inviting and entertaining, people are more likely to use it.
One business that has created an inviting and entertaining application that integrates Twitter is Jumbo, a one-stop shopping store with stores in Chile and Argentina. Jumbo’s mobile application allows people to do their shopping on their mobile phones. It uses Twitter to share the latest offerings, recipes, coupons, and new product information. With the help of Twitter, Jumbo’s customers can shop while they ride the bus, the metro, standing in line at the bank–or just about anywhere.
Some radio stations in Latin America are using Twitter to interact with their audiences during their programs. One example is Radio Cooperativa, a radio station in Chile that has built a Twitter application into their programming platform to increase audience participation. For Radio Cooperativa, Twitter is a venue of live broadcasting in which the broadcaster and the audience can engage in a conversation in real time. “Twitter allows a platform that contains real time information” added Manuel Contreras, Deputy Director Digital Media for CCC (Chilean Communication Company/Cooperativa).
Politicians are also using Twitter to interact with potential voters. In Chile, presidential elections are coming up in December 2009, and presidential candidates have not wasted any time. They have incorporated Twitter into their campaigns, allowing a two-way conversation in which voters and candidates ask questions and exchange opinions.
Maraco Enriquez-Ominami was a late candidate in the race for the presidential seat in Chile. He opened his Twitter account in March 2009; after just six months, he has more than 19,000 followers. (This puts him in second place after opposing candidate Sebastian Piñera, who has had a Twitter account since February 2008 and has 20,000 followers.) Enriquez-Ominami’s rapid growth in Twitter followers in Chile has made him the most popular Chilean in TweeterWall, a recently defunct website devoted to popularity contests such as these. Enriquez-Ominami also created an electronic button with his picture that supporters can add to their Twitter avatars.
Tweeting in Latino America is different than Tweeting in the United States. Just recently a new Spanish-language microblog called Birddi launched. Twitter just announced that they are creating a Spanish-language version. It will be interesting to see if this will replace or supplement Twitter use in Latin America or not.
As all these examples show, Twitter has become a very important tool in the creation of a more democratic system in Latin America. Audiences now have a voice in making a two-way conversation possible, and the last word can be said by the people. In addition, Twitter is a natural fit with Latin American culture because of its entertaining and inviting interactive form of communication. It’s still Twitter, but with a Latino flavor!
Rubi Romero provides consulting services as a Digital Media Specialist to non-profits, politicians and media, in the areas of social media and internet content. She specializes in the Hispanic/Latino business market in and outside the United States. Read her blog Vision Latina (http://rubiromero.wordpress.com/) to learn more about current news and trends from a Hispanic/Latino perspective.
The article “Twitter, Latino-Style,” is based upon the chapter “Tweeting in Latino America,” will be included in the book UW Twitter Book to be published in late 2009. For more information about UW Twitter Book, please visit: http://uwtwitterbook.com/about/.