Weekly Chart: Where Latin Americans Are on Social Media

By Holly K. Sonneland

Even with half the online population, Brazil added more mobile social media users in 2016 than the United States did.

In few regions of the world are people as innovative—and effective—in how they use social media as are Latin Americans. Ecuadorans ask their president for street repairs over TwitterPeruvians make bank transactions via apps from the middle of the Andean highlands. Brazilians map shootings in favelas where the police have little to no presence. Venezuelans use social media to track down medicines as public information sources collapse. Mexicans use Periscope to hold litterers and parking space hogs accountable. The list goes on.

Latin America’s online audience is now bigger than Canada and the United States’ combined (about 390 million to 320 million)—and growing. Most Latin Americans (57 percent) are on social media. While the United States’ social media population grew 11 percent from 2016 to 2017 and Canada’s 10 percent, Mexico’s grew a whopping 27 percent—and even more for those using social media on mobile (33 percent). The growth is notable for such a large market and is due in part, per the OECD, to a 2013 telecom reform that trimmed prices and opened up access; the number of mobile broadband subscriptions tripled from 24 million to 74 million in a span of four years. And social media use is growing the most in some of the region’s poorest countries: Haiti, where just 15 percent of the population is online, also saw the biggest single-year growth in the number of social media users, jumping 45 percent.

AS/COA Online takes a look at where Latin Americans are on social media, and where there’s room to grow the market even more.