While Latin America does not yet represent the same type of social networking market as North America, Europe, or the Asia-Pacific region, social networking is rapidly changing the digital landscape of Latin America. According to a new study from comScore, “The Rise of Social Networking in Latin America,” in June 2011, 114.5 million people in Latin America visited a social networking site, representing 96% of the entire online population in the region.
This figure also represented 16% year-over-year growth in social networking’s Latin American penetration. Out of roughly 1 billion global social networkers, Latin America was home to about 10% of them.
Argentina Leads the Way
comScore data shows that globally, internet users averaged 5.4 hours on social networking sites during the month of June. A look at the top markets based on the average number of hours spent social networking revealed that five of the top ten markets were Latin American countries.
Argentina’s online users averaged ten hours on social networking sites in June to rank first in the region and third overall, while Chileans averaged 8.7 hours, ranking fifth. Colombians ranked seventh with 8.4 hours per social networker, and Venezuelans ranked eighth at eight hours. Social networkers in Mexico (7.1 hours) and Peru (6.6 hours) also ranked among the global top ten.
Much like their neighbors to the North, Latin American social networking users show a clear preference for Facebook, which had about 91 million Latin American visitors in June of this year. This was roughly two and a half times the 36 million Latin American visitors to the number two Latin American social network, Windows Live Profile.
In one regional quirk, the Google-owned social network Orkut comes in third with 34 million users, largely due to a strong base in Brazil. Meanwhile, Twitter ranked as the fourth largest site with 24.3 million visitors (up 59% from 2010) as Latin Americans continued to embrace tweeting.
It is also worth noting that although comScore analysis shows the largest Facebook markets by audience size are the United States, Germany and India, many of the most highly penetrated Facebook markets are in Latin America. In fact, five of the top ten markets for Facebook penetration are in the region.
For example, Facebook reached 90.9% of all online users in Chile, ranking as the third most highly penetrated market globally behind the Philippines and Turkey. Argentina, Colombia and Peru immediately followed Chile, with all markets seeing Facebook reach more than 89% of their internet populations, while the site reached almost 87% of online users in Venezuela.
Young Adults, Women Drive Latin American Social Networking
The study also examines Latin American social networking use by gender and age. While men slightly outnumber women in terms of total users, accounting for about 51% of all Latin American social networkers, they only account for 46% of social networking minutes, showing heavier engagement by female users.
Meanwhile, Latin American social networkers age 15-24 accounted for both the largest share of social networkers (33%) and engagement (48% of minutes). In addition, Latin American social networkers age 25-34 accounted for about 29% of users, while visitors age 35-44 represented 20%, demonstrating a clear youth movement in Latin American social networking.