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eMarketer expects 227.4 million people in Latin America to be social network users this year, representing just over one-third of the region’s population and 68.8% of internet users. The number of people who access a social network via any device at least monthly will expand to 254.4 million in 2015 and 311.8 million by the end of our forecast period.
Meanwhile, the number of active Twitter users is set to reach 28.0 million this year. Regional giant Brazil will be, as usual, the largest contributor to that tally, with 12.7 million Twitter users in 2014, followed by Mexico’s 7.7 million.
Argentina, however, leads by Twitter user penetration among internet users, boasting a 13.7% reach this year that will grow fastest among the individual markets forecast by eMarketer to reach 21.1% by 2018.
Outside of the top three economies in the region, Twitter uptake will be limited to 3.9 million people.
Meanwhile, top social networking competitor Facebook will solidify its leading position when it reaches 208.9 million users in the region this year, one-third of them in Brazil alone (70.5 million). We expect Mexico to have 44.4 million Facebook users, ahead of Argentina’s 18.2 million. But more importantly, Facebook has branched out to the rest of the region, and there will be 75.9 million people logging in from countries like Chile, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela.
Active user bases are key for marketers to understand the reach of their social media budgets in a region that will approach the half-billion-dollar mark in social network ad spending in 2014. This year’s growth (9.1%) in the category will be followed by a 9.6% improvement in 2015, when eMarketer predicts $593.6 million will be devoted to social network ads.
While Facebook has been able to establish a rock-solid lead in nearly any metric in the region (except perhaps growth, given its saturation level), Twitter is struggling due to tough competition from other traditional social networks and even texting and instant messaging services like WhatsApp, WeChat and LINE.
In Mexico, for example, The Cocktail Analysis found that 92% of daily internet users ages 18 to 55 were active Facebook users in December 2013. Google+ ranked No. 2, cited by 59% of respondents, followed by WhatsApp’s 45% uptake—which rose to 73% among smartphone users. Twitter penetration came in at 41%. And when it came to Twitter’s “home turf” category—social TV—The Cocktail Analysis found that Facebook users were the most likely to frequently post comments about video content they consumed (75%), followed by 62% of WhatsApp users who said the same. By comparison, only 36% of Twitter and LINE users did so in the same period.
eMarketer bases all of its forecasts on a multipronged approach that focuses on both worldwide and local trends in the economy, technology and population, along with company-, product-, country- and demographic-specific trends, and trends in specific consumer behaviors. We analyze quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of research firms, government agencies, media outlets and company reports, weighting each piece of information based on methodology and soundness.
In addition, every element of each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all of its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of each forecast means those assumptions and framework are constantly updated to reflect new market developments and other trends.
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