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14. Case Study: Latin America

Tweeting in Latin America: The art to tweet with a Latino touch


It was late April in 2009 and the biggest trend in twitter was not about Obama or Oprah, it was about an epidemic that had initiated in my country of origin, Mexico. I began to see more and more news about the Swine Flu (now call H1N1) a very contagious virus that was becoming a threat not only for the Mexican people, but for the entire world. This is was the first time I recognized the true potential of Twitter to become a real time news tool since ir provided the latest information and breakouts.  As a Latina living in the United States, I was witnessing the impact that Twitter was having among the social media community around the world, especially when the #swineflu became the number one trend in Twitter. [Figure 1]

Figure- 1 Swine fluHowever, it was very difficult to find the most reliable information in this microblog, so I started to follow the #swineflu hastag and soon I found VERATEC, a Kirkland based corporation that tracks disease outbreaks globally. They were providing the latest and most reliable information about the swine flu in Twitter. [Figure 2] There was only one problem they did not offer this information in Spanish, so I took the initiative to re-tweet their information in this language. By the end of the day, I discovered that there were also hastags created in Spanish #gripe or #gripeporcina [Figure 3] (Spanish hashtag for #swineflu). The number of tweets in Spanish came from all over, from Hispanics living in and outside the United States.

Figure 2

Figure-2a Veratec Swine Flu

Figure 3


At that point, Twitter had become the latest and most reliable news about the swine flu for the entire Hispanic community. Television, radio, and newspapers did not offer any new information that you could not already have found in Twitter. That was the moment when I knew that Twitter had broken all geographical boarders with Latin America and with the rest of the world.

The use of Twitter in Latin America continues to grow. However, models that adjust to the way that Latinos converse are needed as Twitter goes beyond writing a message in 140 characters.  Twitter is about the voice and the goal of the tweets, and as Twitter continues to grow in this part of the world, basic guidelines and good models to follow are needed for new users.  But why is the use of Twitter in Latin America Important?  How is Twitter been used in Latin America? What cultural aspects need to be considered?

This chapter explores three main areas in which Twitter is been used in region; politics, media and retail. The findings of the use of Twitter in these areas will be told throughout the analysis and stories coming from Twitter users in this part of the world who use a model that offers a two way communication with a human voice to truly engage their followers.  In addition, it will provide brief information on Twitter facts in the United States and Latin America for statistical purposes.

Twitter Facts in the United States

In February 2009, Twitter experienced a 1,382% year-over-year growth and an increase on the total unique visitors from 475,000 in February 2008 to seven million in February of this year. Making Twitter the fastest growing site among the social media users followed by Zimbio with 240% and Facebook with 228% growth[29]

In addition, this year Oprah had a day in Twitter. This event made Twitter subscribers jump from 5,000 to 10,000 to 500,000 to 1.2 million after the Oprah event. According to PC World, “Twitter’s traffic is shooting through the roof right now.” A report found that the usage of Twitter has doubled in March (131% from February). [28]

Twitter Facts in Latin America

Brazil is among the five countries in the world that use this microblog the most. Brazil makes up for 2% of the world population that uses Twiter and was the first country in Latin America that used Twitter (July 2006). [16] Other countries that are using Twitter as well are Argentina (since September 2006), Chile (since October 2006) and Mexico data was not available. [1]

The growth of Twitter is significantly important as it is changing the way that people communicate in Latin America. As it was mentioned before the way that tweets are written need to have a structure that connects with the culture and technology accessibility of that particular area of the world. For example, In Latin America only 10% of the population uses internet [17], this point is important to consider if organizations are thinking about implementing Twitter in their business model.  It is important to know that in Latin America the first exposure to internet comes from the mobile technology.

According to an academic article [5], there are 308 million people in Latin America who own a mobile phone. In this part of the world only a small proportion of the population has internet service (10%), but a vast majority of the population has mobile/cell phone service (70%). [5] This growth factor on mobile technology in Latin America can explain why Twitter has growth in this region. It also important to highlight that Twitter can be accessed via text message after the user set the account via internet, which it can be done at internet cafes (very popular in Latin America) [4,5] According to Twitter, Twitter’s traffic comes from SMS, Instant Message, Mobile Web and other API projects. [30]

Mobil technology has reached critical mass in Latin America, therefore, this may facilitates the growth of Twitter in this part of the world, as its platform can be access by text message. For example, Argentina has a mobile penetration of 98.7%, followed by Chile which has an 80.4% and Mexico and Brazil with over 70%. [3]

The above penetration rates translate to about 286,503,671 million people of possible potential users of Twitter through a mobile devise and more than 17 million users of the Internet.  Therefore, it is important for business organizations in Latin America and from other parts of the world to pay attention to this numbers as it may increase their number of potential consumers. Also as Twitter users grow, this tool will be use more and more for other reasons besides business, it will be used for purposes like community organizing, mobilizing and politics which can raise the voice of millions of people who may use Twitter as a venue to speak up to make a significant change in Latin America’s society.

Politics: How Is Twitter Used In This Sector?

On June 28, 2009, Honduras ousted its president, Manuel Zelaya. [9] As a result a hashtag -#honduras- in Twitter was created to follow and comment about the event. The response of people from all over the world was reflected on the number of tweets and tweet ups that continue to grow.  For example just in a period of 24 hours in August 1st, 714 tweets were posted under the #honduras hashtag.[Figure 4]

Figure 4


Honduras was not the only example of how Twitter is been used to change the fate of politics. On July 5, 2009, Mexico had its legislative elections and a hashtag -#votonulo-[Figure 5] was created. The purpose was to request that Mexicans vote “NO VOTE”. According the CNN en Español this made a difference on the way that Mexican people voted that day.  About 6% of the Mexican population voted “NO VOTE” in a country with a population of more than 109M this means about 6.5M. In metropolitan areas like Mexico City with almost 20M people [12] and Guadalajara with almost 5M people [11] the “NO VOTE” reached 11% (2.7M). This event has never happened in Mexico before, according to CNN en Español, Twitter played an important role in it. [13,14]


Twitter in Latin America in the area of politics is playing a very important role in the way that people gets involved in politics.  However, the use of Twitter in Latin America for political purposes is not limited only to the hashtag. More and more politicians are using Twitter as a platform to get more exposure with the hope to accomplish what President Obama did with the help of this microblog. Even though Twitter represents a venue to obtain a significant number of followers, it does not mean that anyone, in this case any politician can do what Obama did.

One great example is happening in Chile with parliamentary and presidential elections coming are around the corner. Social media is playing an important role in the race to obtain the majority of votes that will allow them to win. There are two candidates for the presidential seat that excel in the use of social media, Sebastian Piñera for the center-right National Renewal(RN) party [19] which is a constituent of the Alliance for Chile coalition [20] and Marco Enriquez-Ominami who is running as an independent candidate. However, for Enriquez-Ominami it will be more difficult as he needs about thirty six thousand supporters that notarize their support in order to make his candidature official.[18]

In addition, parliamentary elections are also taking place and candidates do not want to fall behind in the use of social media. One good example of this phenomenon is Representative Marisol Turres for District #57 since 2006. Her district has a population of 279,004.  Turres has used social media to maintain his region informed by using tools like Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Twitter.  She will attempt to be re-elected to continue with her efforts in helping the people of her district. Twitter is the most recent tool used by Turres.

Case Studies

Marco Enriquez-Ominami [Figure 6]

Figure 6

Figure-6 Marco Enriquez-Ominami

Enriquez-Ominami is using social media tools including Twitter to organize and facilitate that process for those thirty six thousand people who need to notarize their support to make him an official candidate. Enriquez-Ominami opened his Twitter account, Marco2010, on March 23 of this year. Currently, only five months after he opened this account he has 10,195 followers (as of 08/14/09). [Figure 7] According to Twitter Counter the average growth per day is 492.  For example on June 19 he had 3,602 followers by August 2, he had 8,248 and only three weeks later, he has acquired 1,947 new followers for a total of 10,195 and growing number of followers. According to a Chilean newspaper, the popularity that he has gained among the Twitter community in Chile has placed him as the most voted Chilean in Tweeterwall. [15] [Figure 8]

Figure 7Figure-7 Marco2010 twitter counter stats

Figure 8

Figure-8 Mr_Twitter

Figure 8

The current number of followers may be seen as a low number, but if Chile’s total population of 16.4 million is considered, then this number is not low at all. [21] Currently there are 60 thousand Twitter users in Chile. [35]

It is important to highlight that Enriquez-Ominami’s strong message of change, his effort to reach out to young voters and his charismatic personality, have helped in this effort. Using Twitter does not guarantee an immediate rise of followers or a presidency. The candidate must offer more than a social media platform.

On August 16, Enriquez-Ominami announced during an interview that he had collected 60 thousand supporters almost doubled the amount that he needed to become an official presidential candidate. Enriquez-Ominami has showed that the first step in this campaign had been accomplished.

All of these factors have earned him the title as many have called him “Chile’s Obama” (Obama Chileno in Spanish), he shares many aspects that President Obama has, but Enriquez-Ominami has not yet won the maximum legislative sit in Chile. [18] Only time will tell.

Marco is using social media tools to accomplish his message of change in Chile.  In Twitter, he is using his tweet messages to reflect a true change in the way politicians are conversing with their audience.

Sample of Tweets (interpretation)

Direct Messages (DM) [Figure 9]

Figure 9

Figure-9 marco2010 dms

@KlawMarambio thank you very much, we are opening the doors of history. @KlawMarambio mil gracias, estamos abriendo las puertas de la historia 08/14/09

@fernandounda where did you read that? @fernandounda donde leíste eso¿? 08/14/09

@italoespinoza ok thank you @italoespinoza ok gracias 08/14/09

Engagement [Figure 10]

Figure 10


I have proposed to open the parliament to the indigenous people, what do you think? He propuesto abrir el parlamento a los pueblos indígenas, qué les parece¿? 8/24/09

Going to Rancagua, Quillon, Chillán, Los Angeles and Concepción. I accept suggestions on local themes. Partiendo a Rancagua,, Quillon, Chillán, Los Angeles y Concepción. Acepto sugerencias sobre temas locales. 08/13/09

The TVN Law will be vote on soon, what do you think about the mission that TVN has? Se votará pronto la ley sobre TVN, qué les parece la misión que cumple TVN¿? 08/12/09

Tomorrow, I have a meeting with SCD headquarters, what position do you have about copyright? (SCD is the Chilean Society for Copyrights) Mañana me reuno con la SCD, en la sede del comando, qué posición tienen respecto de los derechos de autor¿? 08/09/09

Arriving home early, what do you think about the proposal to reinstate the death penalty? llegando a mi casa, temprano, qué opinan acerca de la propuesta de reponer la pena de muerte¿? 08/06/09

If Enriquez-Ominami wins the presidency of Chile, he will become the second president elected who used social media to accomplish it.[22]

Sebastian Piñera [Figure 11]

Figure 11

Figure-11 SebastianPinera

He is another candidate running for president in the presidential elections in Chile. This is not the first time that he is running for this seat. Piñera run for the highest seat back in 2005. Piñera is not a new user of social media; he has used these tools for many years.

Piñera joined Twitter back on February 18, 2008.  His first tweet was on April 18, 2009, “Probando Twitter” in English it can be interpreted as “Trying out Twitter”. Piñera is not a new face in the political arena in Chile.  According to The Patagonia Times, the Center for Studies in Contemporary Reality (CERC) poll, Piñera still ahead in Chile’s Presidential Election. [23]

Piñera’s strategy of incorporating social media as a tool for his campaign is a successful and an innovative way to approach the younger populations in Chile. He also has a strong message for change and hope. These facts are reflected in the way that he has been using Twitter. Piñera’s account has an average growth of 226 according to Twitter Counter. [figure 12)

Figure 12


As of August 14, 2009, Piñera had about 11,995 followers which place him as the presidential candidate in Chile with the most followers in Twitter. Piñera’s tweets are written in a human voice and with the idea of an open conversation. Piñera responds to DMs, he Re-Tweets (RT), he shared some of his most precious moments with his followers like when his daughter was to become a mother for the first time. [Figure 13] He also maintains his followers informed of his campaign work.

Figure 13

Figure-13 Sebastian Pinera Tweet Grand-daughter

Sample of Tweets (interpretation)

DM [Figure 14]

Figure 14


I am referring to @albertoprecht I hope that more young people will be more enthusiastic with politics. Me refiero a @albertoprecht Ojala mas jovenes se entusiasmaran con la politica. 08/14/09

@Lakawila son we will visit Iquique, as well as all the cities in Chile. @Lakawila Pronto visitaremos Iquique, así como todas las comunas de Chile

@juanrojasm Our government will be leaded by young people, just as the Tantauco groups are doing it. Welcome! @juanrojasm Nuestro Gobierno será liderado por jóvenes,como ya están liderando los Grupos Tantauco. ¡Bienvenido!


Thank you very much to all of you who have sent supportive messages. To be in this field good energy and good vibes! Muchas gracias a todos los que me han mandado mensajes de apoyo. ´Para estar en esto se necesita de la energía y buena onda!

Friends: recently my daughter Cecilia informed me that the moment of having her first daughter Antonia has arrived. Therefore I’ll go back to Lota to be with her. Amigos: Recien mi hija cecilia me aviso que llego el momento de que nazca antonia, su primera hija. Asi que vuelvo desde lota a acompañarla

Colocolo tie. Way to go boys. With Colocolo everything is possible!! (Colocolo is a very popular Chilean soccer team) Empato Colocolo. Vamos muchachos. Con Colocolo todo es posible!!

It could be said that Piñera has everything to become a president of Chile; he has used social media, he has appealed to the support of young voters and he has a strong message of change.

In conclusion, Twitter has become a very important tool for these two presidential candidates. Their tweets reflect that they are open to suggestions and that they care for what their followers have to say. This is a model that could to earn the trust and the vote of the Twitter community in Chile which is translated to about 60 thousand potential voters.[34]

Marisol Turres [Figure 15]


Marisol Turres was elected among the 100 women leaders of Chile by El Mercurio, a very important Chilean newspaper. [24] Turres has been a representative of district #57 since 2006 and she is now running for re-election this year. The region that she represents has a total population of 279,004 and it is considered a rural area where internet is limited. However, Turres has used social media to keep her region informed. And just four months ago she included Twitter in her efforts to maintain an open communication with her followers.  Turres has found the venues to provide a platform for people who have no access to internet or to a computer. Mobile technology is more accessible in that part of Chile [25] and the fact that Twitter can be accessed via text message makes Twitter a good tool to keep the conversation open and flowing.

As of July 27, Turres had only 68 followers, but as of August 14 her number of followers has increased to 90. This number may be perceived as a very low number, however if the size of her district and the lack of internet accessibility are considered [25] , then this number is not low at all. According to, Turres is ranked 1st in her location.[figure 16] (Followers in Puerto Montt which has the largest population of the cities that conformed district # 57 with 225,008 peole). [26]

Figure 16


Turres tweets have a  way to invite her followers for a two way communication that possess a human protective/family oriented voice that interacts with the audience, in other words a true open door human conversation. Some examples of these tweets are:

We presented a Project to reinstate the death penalty for child rapists, with good results? Presentamos proyecto que repone la pena de muerte para violadores de ninos con resultado de muerte! 08/05/09 [Figure 17]

Figure 17


I am going to Calbuco on my way to Maullin to give housing subsides. I hope that people have their sweet home soon. (Casita is used as a way to add love/sentiment to the description in Spanish). Voy de Calbuco camino a Maullin a una entrega de subsidios. Ojala que la gente tenga luego su casita!!! 08/14/09

Congratulations to all the children of the world. I hope that each child would have happiness today and every day. It would be a different world. Felicidades a todos los ninos del mundo. Ojala que cada uno tuviera alegria hoy y cada dia. Sería un mundo distinto. 08/09/09

Thank you friends for all your best wishes and love!!! Gracias amigos por sus buenos deseos y su carino!!!!!! 08/04/09

I asked ULA for an audit because salaries are not been paid to teachers and there are no resources for the second semester. Pedí que se realice auditoría a la ULA porque no se les paga sueldos a los profesores a honorarios, ni hay recursos para el 2° semestre. 07/19/09

THANK YOU VERY MUCH TO EVERYONE FOR YOUR SUPPORT.  Another day has begun… I must continue working with enthusiasm. MUCHÍSIMAS GRACIAS A TODOS POR SU APOYO. Comienza otro día y… a seguir trabajando con ganas!! 06/04/09

Friday and Saturday, congress with UDA in Punta de Tralca.  Dear kids and husband: I will miss you a lot. Viernes y sábado, congreso de la UDI en Punta de Tralca. Hijitos y maridito: los extrañaré mucho. 05/15/09

I’m learning to use twitter. Aprendiendo a usar mi twitter. 5/6/08

Turres writes her tweets using a protective/loving vocabulary, but when it is needed to send a strong message, she does it like when she tweeted about the death penalty to child rapists and asked the UDI for an audit.  Turres tweets project a welcoming loving woman, but also a very strong leader with a strong voice in pro of the children and the poor.  None of Turres tweets invite people to support her on her campaign; instead she provides information about who she is and what are her priorities on her tweets.  This is important, because people must have a full trust in their leaders. In this aspect, Twitter presents a challenging platform in which 140 characters can make someone go to the point in two ways, one having an empty voice and the other by providing a human touch.  It is only on the choice of words and this can be a difficult task for many, especially if they do not really mean it.  For Turres’ tweets is not a problem, they flow with her unique human and true caring tone. She still have not Re-Tweet (RT) or DM, but she has just begun to use Twitter.  One good way to increase her transparency will be to use direct messages to respond to particular questions from her followers once they start asking questions or making comments and she can also re-tweet when the Twitter community mentions her work or her district, as they appreciate recognition.

Media: How Is Twitter Used In This Sector?

As family structures continues to change and the current economy forces many people in Latin America to work two jobs or extra hours, it creates time restrains for many Latinos who used to read the newspaper print version, but now with more limits in time, being able to only read those news that interest them without spending time searching for the, has facilitate the old ritual of reading the news.  Twitter is a platform that offers exactly that, short headlines of the most relevant news with links to the full story facilitate the news experience for Latinos that can receive them on their computer or mobile while they ride the metro or the bus to get to their jobs or where ever they need to go (for example, in Argentina 36% of the population use public transportation and in Brazil 32%) [5]

Twitter is an excellent tool to receive the latest news headlines that can be read in short periods of times.  As more news organizations in Latino America adopt the use of this microblog tool, people will have more access to the latest news without having to spend hours reading a newspaper or watching/listening to TV or radio news.

Now twitter presents a platform that not only offers the headlines of the latest news, it also allows the audience to participate; they can share, comment or debate the news and they can do it while they ride the bus, cook, or taking a break by using their cell phones or PCs. The audience now can be informed from a world catastrophe to which soccer team won.

The Media in Latin America is looking for innovative ways to keep their audiences informed and some have entered to the “conversation” with their followers by using social media tools. For example there are many news papers that are using Twitter in Latin America, but there are only some among others that have engaged in a true conversation using Twitter. For this purpose newspapers that are using Twitter in Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Brazil where studied and two radio stations from Chile.

Case Studies

El Universal de Mexico ( @El_Universal_Mx ) [Figure18]


One good example of this new conversation model using Twitter, is El Universal de Mexico that incorporated Twitter to its online version since October 09, 2008, by creating @el_universal_mx.  Currently they have 12,052 followers.

“We decided to implement Twitter due the growth that this tool has had in the Internet.” Carlos Brito, El Universal de Mexico.

The tweets from el_universal_mx is a great example of an “open conversation” with its readers, for example they ask their readers for their opinion on certain subjects like “How do you like the way that Mexico played during the first half” during a the Soccer World Cup game between Mexico and the United States. In addition el_universal_mx also enhances the engagement with its readers by providing polls or contest. For example there was a recent contest in which the winners (14) would win a financial education book package.  Participants had to answered three questions correctly and then send them to el_universal_mx via e-mail. The job of engagement that el_universal_mx used went beyond posting the contest. They explained the rules and the process, and the questions had to do with the subject matter of the price.

Another point in the conversation is to answer Direct Messages (DM), Re-Tweet (RT) and the Hashtag #. This is a model that el_universal_mx implements across it tweets [figure 19,20,21]. For example during the Swine flu event, they used the hashtags #H1N1 and #Influenza.  They also have engaged in bigger/international conversations like when President Manuel Zelaya was ousted in Honduras, they used #Honduras or during the Iranian election conflict when they used #iran.  El_universal_mx stated that in terms of the usage of a hashtag, they use it only when the news becomes a trending topic due to the importance of the issue, then they sign the notes with the appropriate hashtag. [19, 20, 21]

Figure 19 – DMs

Figure-19 El Universal MX DMs

Figure 20 – RTs


Figure 21- Hashtag

Figure-21 el universal mx Hashtag

The effort that el_universal_mx makes to provide quality to their tweets reflects not only on the number of followers, but also on the time they spend in the Twitter account.  According to the el_universal_mx, they spend anywhere from five to nine hours depending on the events happening a particular day. For example, during the last election in Mexico on July 5, 2009, they spent almost thirteen hours in Twitter in order to provide the most current and relevant information about the elections (see questionnaire).

El_Universal_Mx found out about twitter through friends and social media readings. Their decision to participate in the Twitter community was based on the fact that Twitters was a growing tool in the Internet and the hope that this represented for their organization as they could become the most followed organization in the Spanish media. The implementation of Twitter was easy since the director of the newspaper supported the decision. However, due to the existence of various fake accounts, it was difficult for people to identify the official account of el_universal_mx, but the diffusion they gave to through their website made it possible to accomplish the task.

The effort of el_universal_mx goes beyond the implementation of one social media tool, they have also incorporated other tools such as Facebook, blogs, and videos. According to el_universal_mx, out of all the newspapers in Mexico, El Universal is the one that has been the most preoccupied to satisfy the needs of their readers in regards to the online content.  They offer a no charge service, updated 24 hours a day and directly serve their followers. They do not tweet any advertisement to keep the conversation as a true one except when they have a contest in which they have to disclose the brand of the prize.

Perhaps the success of their Twitter account has to do with the format they follow from a manual they have developed. They limit their number of tweets to avoid at all cost to be seeing or perceived as a spam. Also because the people selected to tweet was a self choice which it is important, the person who tweets need not only to know how to use Twitter, but to enjoy it and know how to engage in a true conversation.  Not everyone is capable of accomplish this task. Twitters have to be able to listen and respond to the needs of the readers.  This is the priority of el_universal_mx and should be the priority to all media organizations. [Figures 22,23]

Figure 22

Figure-22 El Universal mx Eng tweets

Figure 23

Figure-23 el universal mx Conversational_Tweets

Diario UNO [Figure 24] ( @DiarioUNO ) -Argentina-

Figure-24 DiarioUNO

“Twitter followers response to see that a newspaper has answered them has been enriching to them and has created a special loyalty to our newspaper” Said Nacho Castro, the person in charge of Tweeting for DiarioUNO.

Diarion UNO, better known by many as “The Newspaper that Talks” is a great example to follow due to their innovative conversation model in Twitter.

Diario UNO  is a local newspaper in Mendoza Argentina. They were funded back in 1993. The name of the news paper adopted this name because they wanted to involve their readers, in other words, readers and newspaper should be UNO which means ONE in English.

They joined the Twitter community on March, 2009 and start the conversation in Twitter the same day. Their first tweet was to provide important news about local gas stations running out of Natural Compress Gas and from that day on, their tweets are not only informative, but have a human conversation that works both ways, they give and they offer. For example, soccer in Argentina is a very important sport and Diario Uno offers live update of soccer games without URL links, only pure conversational up dates one good example of this is a recent soccer game between Argentina and Russia in which they where tweeting up dates about the score. (see figure 25 red tweets). Another example is the way they tweet they headlines, their tweets are not copy and paste from their headline on their website, they are written in an engagement unique way like open questions for the news, some examples are like “Anyone uses Facebook to find love?” and they offered a link to an article that talk about a research in Canada on how about 95% of the internet users their “ex” (see figure 25 blue tweet) or when they asked their followers if they knew what a mortgage was using an engagement tweet (see figure 26).

Figure 25

Figure-25 DiarioUNO Conversational_Tweets

Figure 26

Figure-26 DiarioUNO eng Tweet

Some ways Diario Uno have to thank their followers, is not only to offer them the most recent and relevant news, but to offer them the chance to win prices like every Thursday their followers can win free tickets to go to the movies, of course the followers have to agree to receive information and promotions. [Figure 27] In addition, as part of the conversation they use RT, DMs and hashtags (see figure 28, 29, 30). “We follow everyone who follow us even if we know they are our competitors, we answered back to everyone who talk to us, but we do not send DM’s to our followers unless it is strictly necessary to do it like when we need to inform them that they have won tickets to a show.” Added Nacho Castro to the way they manage who to follow and DM’s.

Figure 27

Figure-27 DiarioUNO prices

Figure 28

Figure-28 DiarioUNO DMs

Figure 29

Figure-29 DiarioUNO Hashtag

Figure 30

Figure-30 DiarioUNO RTs

Diario UNO has used Twitter to enhance the job they do in their online newspaper in which they have a blog/comment model to each of their news.  They also use other social media tools like Facebook and Mobile.  It needs to be said that Diario UNO let their online readers right away that they are in Twitter and Facebook, and via mobile. Most of the other news papers have this information either hidden or the reader has to scroll down to find it.  In addition, all of their news can be linked to the different social media venues and have a comment section. [Figures 31, 32]

Figure 31

Figure-31 DiarioUNO social media in web

Figure 32

Figure-32 DiarioUNO sharing news

How do they do it? Mendoza is a small province in Argentina and for a newspaper to do this great work on Twitter is great news for readers.  This is a great model to follow for other newspapers in Latin America that are thinking to start using Twitter. Diario UNO is using Twitter in a way that it shows they truly care for their readers and what they have to say. The best example to show their interest for their readers is in their Twitter profile background in which they included a question “Why don’t we chat for a moment, huh? (See figure 33)

Figure 33

Figure-33 DiarioUNO invitation on profile

The Voice of DiarioUNO:

“We use Twitter as a radio model, this model allows a real time conversation. Therefore our followers feel that they are not alone.  We have a policy to establish a communication that is personalized, caring and especially human with a sense of humor” Mario Simonovich, 2.0 Manager.

“It is important that the person who tweets, really likes it, in our case, I selected a journalist that was a fanatic of social media and who had a BA in Social Communication and he decided to implement a personalize communication in a radio style, basically he was told to do it as he wanted.”  Mario Simonovich

“We believe that followers in Twitter should stop following when there is a lack of dedication from the organization” and “When the tweets stop being a conversation and become SPAM” Mario Simonovich and Nacho Castro

“Honesty should be the priority of every news papers and that is why UNO’s statistics show that more visits to our site are coming from Twitter” Nacho Castro

“La mejor manera que encontramos de promocionar el canal fue comenzar a seguir gente. Una vez que los seguimos procuramos interactuar con ellos comenzando por algo tan básico como saludar. La sorpresa de los seguidores fue muy grande y los chistes sobre “el diario que habla” comenzaron a llegar. Junto a los chistes y sorpresas de los seguidores fueron llegando más seguidores hasta ganarnos nuestros primeros FolowFriday. Los RT de los seguidores frente a algunas noticias también sumaron. Aprovechamos también nuestra página de Facebook para promocionarlo. Finalmente aprovechamos un rediseño que hicimos en el header para incorporar el logo de Twiter linkeado a nuestro perfil”.  Nacho Castro

English interpretation

“The best way we found to promote our channel was to begin following other people. Once we follow them, we try to interact with them starting from something as basic as a greeting. The surprise of the followers was very big and the jokes about “the newspaper that talks” started to come in.  With the jokes and surprises from the followers more followers arrived until we earn our firsts FolowFriday. The followers’ RT’s in front of some news also added more. We also used our Facebook page to promote it.  Finally we took advantage of our profile re-design to incorporate the Twitter logo to be linked to our profile.”

Diario Uno’s unique tweets model is a good model to follow by other online newspapers as it provides a true engagement with its readers. Even though they cover a local area with a population of 169 thousand people, they have about 59 thousand visits to their site daily. “particularly, I believe that a national paper can implement this model, they just have to humanize their Twitter account and to generate a voice that is capable of interacting in Twitter.  I spend about one hour throughout the day writing tweets for Diario UNO” Nacho Castro

Diario UNO Translated Tweet Samples [Figure 34]

Figure-34 DiarioUNO tweets

La Tercera and El Mercurio (Chile)

There are other news papers in Latin America that are doing a good gob in Twitter. For example in Chile there are two newspapers that are using social media to engage with their readers. La Tercera and El Mercurio with their online version e-mol. Both newspapers use twitter to share their most relevant news headlines and links to their webpage. Both have incorporated social media into their business plan and both have had a great response from their readers. La Tercera has gained 3,313 followers since they first started to use Twitter back in April of 2007 and Emol that has gained 1705 followers since they first launched Twitter back in August of 2008.

OGlobal (Brazil)

Another newspaper using Twitter in Latin America is Oglobal from Brazil. OGlobal is using Twitter since April 09, 2007.  Back 100 tweets, they have not opened a door for a conversation with their followers in Twitter. It is true that short headlines is a way to provide a fast glimpse on the most relevant news, but when is the only service offer to followers it may affect their Twitter traffic. The number of followers they have seems very low for a country with almost 192 million people.

Radio Cooperativa 93.3 FM [Figure 35] ( @Cooperativa) -Chile-

Figure 35

Figure-35 Cooperativa

“Twitter allows a platform that contains real time information” added Manuel Contreras, Deputy Director Digital Media for CCC (Chilean Communication Company/Cooperativa).

Contreras started using social media tools even before he began to work at Radio Cooperativa. “I knew that Twitter was an online phenomenon.” “We gave Twitter a sense of live broadcasting for our followers” added Contreras when he was asked when he started to use Twitter.

Radio Cooperativa has only one account as an organization, but all the broadcasters have their individual accounts. [Figure 36] The account for the organization on Twitter is done to a Twitter feed in an effort to maintain a real time broadcast feed using this microblog. On the other hand they have their individual accounts where they have a more open conversation with their followers. “This way journalist are tweeting and receiving feedback.” Explained Contreras.

Figure 36


The power of Twitter as an instant messaging communication through cell phone is very powerful and media channels have begun to use it as a tool to communicate with the audience.

According to Contreras Radio Coperative does not have the same barriers that newspapers have in terms of barriers to implement Twitter.  “We want to innovate by providing an innovative environment with minute by minute information” added Contreras when he was asked if there was any resistance about the implementation of Twitter as part of their business model.

Radio Cooperativa’s main audience is from 18 to 23 years old which is the population who interacts in Facebook, therefore another social media tool they use is Facebook, however, they do not send their followers to Facebook as it is a platform that has their own advertisement and it will be like sending their audience to their competitors. They know that about 29-30% of the population in Chile is in Facebook, consequently they had to have a presence there according to Contreras.

“The success of Cooperativa in Twitter is because people like the latest news and we provide that for them” explained Contreras. Radio Cooperativa’s strengths is the sports and Twitter provides a great way to update their audience with the latest news and comments on a particular game. Twitter allows them to have more audience participation than ever before.  Before Twitter the audience could participate by using the telephone, but only one person at the time.  Twitter allows multiple participants to interact with Radio Cooperativa by commenting during a soccer game. Therefore Twitter is for Radio Cooperativa a venue of live broadcasting where broadcaster and the audience can engage in a true conversation with a human voice. [Figure 37]

Figure 37


One innovative way that Cooperativa has to engage it audience in Twitter is a program that takes place every day at 6:00 pm called “Whoever calls pays”. A question is asked and the Twitter community responds through Twitter instead of calling as it was done in the past when the engagement was done by phone. They can see the tweets on real time and many can participate at the same time.  They also acknowledge the participation of some of the Twitteros (people who use twitters) and this mention is important for the participants, they feel that their tweets and their contribution is important and this is a great innovative way to engage with the Twitter community.

Cooperativa does not have to deal with any particular policies about who they follow or who they answer to in Twitter because this is a platform that belongs to the people, there are times in which a negative vibe can be felt through the tweets, but this is not a concern to Cooperativa in terms of what to say and what not to say.  They main focus is their followers, what they have to say and no so much what Cooperativa says.

“We have created tools in our website four our Twitter followers to follow any program or event they want, we created an RSS a la carte, [Figure 38] so that they can chose.  We also created an event using Twetter feed on our web.  Followers can comment and see other comments about a particular event on real time.  We also created a training on what is and how to use Twitter and it is on our web available for our readers to use, it is in Spanish and it is a good way for them to find out that we are in Twitter.” [39] Commented Manuel Contreras as he explained more about the different ways they use Twitter as a tool for engaging with their followers.

Figure 38 – RSS a la Carté


Figure 39 – Twitter on Web


Radio Cooperativa’s vision of engagement is present through every Twitter tool they have developed.  They know about the importance of a two way communication with their followers.  It is fair to say that not all radio stations share the same view, but time will show that having a vision of engagement with the audience is more powerful that the most expensive marketing campaign among the Twitter or any other social media community.

ADN Radio Chile 91.7 ( @adnradio )

Another radio using Twitter as a tool to engage in a conversation with their audience is ADN Radio. They just started to use Twitter last July. Not many radio stations in Latin America have adopted Twitter as one of their tools to reach out to their audience and ADN Radio’s followers continue to rise. The combination of Twitter with their online radio-blog style allows people to choose which links to follow and gives them the opportunity to comment on a particular story.

There is room for improvement for ADN Radio in terms of Twitter, but the fact that they have joined the conversation while thousands of other radio stations have not, is a big plus.  Twitter is not a tool that requires a long planning process, the longer time you wait the worse that it is to engage with millions of potential listeners. Many radios will be late adopters of Twitter and this is a huge advantage for those radios like ADN Radio which just decided to do it and become one of the pioneers in Twitter.

As internet becomes a platform full with “free” information and with millions of choices, it is important for media to create a unique voice where people feel comfortable and create a loyalty to the brand.

Retail: How Is Twitter Used In This Sector?

In the past years the role of the Latino women was very different than today’s.  Before the vast majority of Latino women used to stay home, however, this practice has been change with the years and with this the use of technology has become more important to facilitate the many roles that Latino women has to play; professional, mother, wife, daughter etc. Retail plays an important aspect of this, because women can buy on line or keep themselves informed on the latest sales that their favorite retail stores offer.  [7,8]

Twitter is a tool that facilitates the time restrain that many women have due to their multiple roles and also it makes it easier for men to help, as shopping on line or check social media is not a women’s thing. The fact that Twitter limits its messages to 140 characters only, makes it viable in terms of time limitations that Latino families are facing now as both parents work. [2,3,4,5]

Also the use of mobile technology in this case cell phones is the technology that has reach critical mass in most of Latin America and the fact that Twitter can be access through text message service or through mobiles that have internet accessibility facilitates the use of Twitter in this part of the world. [2,3,4,5]

Not many retail stores are participating in Latin America, however as more retail stores implement this tools as part of their business model, it will be important to know how to implemented, how to avoid sounding like adds and sounding more like humans as they enter to the big “conversation” with their consumers.  There are two big retail stores that can serve as a great example for many retail stores to join the Twitter community, Jumbo which has stores in Argentina and Chile and Falabella which has stores in Argentina, Chile and Colombia.

Case Studies

Jumbo[Figure 40]( @jumbotienda ) -Chile-

Figure 40


Jumbo can serve as a great example model to follow for many retail stores to come. Currently Jumbo has stores in Chile and Argentina.  On April 14, 2009, Jumbo created @jumbotienda to maintain their consumers informed about their latest offers. However, with time this model change and currently they not only offer information about their sales, they offer much more.  They offer a human voice that allows a flowing conversation between Jumbo and their audience.  Currently they have 809 of followers.

Jumbo uses Twitter to provide short conversational messages and links to latest recipes, information about their products, their new and future projects and to a list of new/sale products. They take the time to say great their audience, to suggest a cup of coffee in the morning, to drive carefully or simply to comment about the weather. [Figure 41 and 42]

Figure 41

Figure-41 Jumbo tweets

Figure 42

Figure-42 Jumbo tweets

Jumbo also provides information to their customers about certain terms like organic products (see figure 43) or provide incentives for the customer such as games, recipes, contest etc. It is a very innovative way to use Twitter.  It engages their followers as they can read or share their recipes by using a blog platform that connects with Twitter or interact in their contest or games. According to a research Mobile Internet User Experience in Latin America, people like prefer to establish contact with people, but if an inviting entertaining environment is provided then the interaction is easier. [5] See examples on figures 44 and 45.

Figure 43

Figure-43 Jumbo eng tweet

Figure 44

Figure-44 Jumbo gifts

Figure 45


Another great tool they have is shopping through their mobile phones. This is very important since Jumbo tweets have latest offers, recipes to help on the daily cooking tasks, coupons, and information about new products. Jumbo provides a mobile platform for women and men who had more limited time as they can do it while they ride the bus or the metro or just for fun or convenience. Someone can be waiting on a long line at the bank and do his/her shopping while waiting in line just by using their mobile phone. [Figure 46]

Figure 46 – Mobile


It is very easy for Jumbo’s customers to know that Jumbo is open to have an open and human conversation. Jumbo has added as part of their bio a phrase that invites people to communicate “We want your feedback, simply write to us to @jumbotienda” this conversation is enhance by Jumbo answering to their customers direct messages.  Also, jumbo is the only retail store that I could find that has included Twitter in every page of their website.  Therefore, it will be easier for customers that visit Jumbo’s website that they can join Jumbo in the Twitter conversation. See figures 47 and 48.

Figure 47


Figure 48


As the role of the Latino women continues to change and have to face time constrains, models like Jumbo will become important.  Jumbo’s model provides another tool for Latino women to help them with their daily needs of housewives, mothers, or caregivers. It also provides a more comfortable venue for Latino men as they can shop online, they can have access to recipes and their orders can be delivered directly to their homes.

Falabella (Argentina and Chile)

Falabella Argentina and Chile have recently started to use Twitter. Argentina only last month on July 27 and Chile back on May 27, 2009. They do a great marketing job in their tweets, some of them include greetings. This model works great when the offers are very good, which is the case of Falabella. They offer extraordinary prices online, which can make it easy for people to shop online versus in the store, especially if you can pick up your merchandise at the store or have it deliver to your door the same day.

Falabella complements the use of Twitter with other social media tools and their website. They still the new kids on the block in regards to Twitter, but the fact that they have started to Tweet and that some of their tweets include greetings is a good sign.

The use of Twitter in the retail business is very new in Latin America, but Jumbo and Falabella can be a good model to follow for other retail business to join the twitter community in Latin America.  See figure 49 and 50 for a sample of some of their tweets.

Figures 49


Figures 50



The areas of politics, media and retail were selected for the Latin American region as these are the areas in which Twitter has grown the most.  The criteria I used, was based first to find out if they were also using other social media tools or only Twitter.  This was important because even though Twitter is an important tool without the other social media tools it will be difficult for a complete conversation.  For example Jumbo exchanges recipes, but Twitter is not the platform to post the entire recipe, therefore a blog and/or a tool like Facebook are needed.

1. Use of other social media to complement Twitter.

2. First to use Twitter in their areas and countries.

3. Using Twitter as a conversation and not marketing only, in the case of newspapers and radio, they provide headlines to any news, but all their news have blogs/comment section for the audience to comment or asks questions.

4. They have to be housed in Latin America or their main audience is the Latino community.

5. Be currently active in Twitter.

6. Be well recognized in their area of business (have years of experience in the business area)

Thought Leaders from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and other parts of Latin America.



















Lessons Learned / Recommendations

There are four important lessons learned as a result of this research:

Cultural: The word culture can be perceived as to broad, but however in this case, culture is more incline to the specific needs of the Twitter audience. The content of the tweets needs to consider age, choice of words, content relevance and tone of voice. People in Latin America like the direct contact with people, they do not like to be alone, and so the tweets need to be entertaining and inviting to interact with them. Latin American people tend to be collectivist group and communication as well as information is important to them. The perceive value is very important, they must see this microblog as a valuable asset even though this value can be based on service, communication or just for entertaining purposes.

Also, even though it was not mention by any of the interviewees as a reason not to provide more personal information on their Twitter profile like a picture, email or the name of the author of the tweets, it is important to consider the political aspect of certain areas of this region.  For example, due the high crime situation in Mexico, transparency may not be 100% possible as journalists, celebrities and even regular people may have a higher risk to be a victim of kidnapping or a violent crime than in other parts of Latin America like Chile.  This may be a valid reason to avoid providing a picture or more personal information on the Twitter profile.

Therefore, issues like politics, religion and customs need to be considered as well.

Conversation: Tweets need to be written in a conversational way.  The Twitter community do not appreciate tweets from automatic feeds that in a high volume may be perceives as spam.  Tweets need to reflect the effort of “talking” this means, being open to a two way conversation. The conversation needs to be inviting, fun, interactive and most important, human. The two way conversation consists of listening and answering, do not ignore your followers, even if you think they are too small to take care of them.  In Twitter every follower is powerful; therefore, the power of the followers should not be underestimated. Because the Latino Community is a collectivist community, they need to feel they are part of the community. If you ignore their questions or concerns the sense of belonging disappears and with that they disappear from your followers list. However, if they perceived themselves as part of that community, then they become loyal to that community, in this case it could be a newspaper, radio, retail store or even a politician.

Direct messages are an important part of the conversation as it shows your initiative, but try to avoid a high volume of them as they may be perceived as spam. Use this tool to answer their questions or concerns or to provide important information that pertains only to them like if they win a price or if you want to interview them, but not for marketing surveys.

In addition, part of the conversation is to acknowledge people, it is okay to re-tweet (RT) as the Twitter community appreciates acknowledgement.

Language: It is important to point out that Twitter is not available in Spanish or Portuguese which are the main languages spoken in Latin America. Sometimes speaking English can be connected with higher social position and may limit the acceptance of the people who are non-English speakers.  However, Twitter has broken this language barrier and people in this region are using Twitter as an important tool of a communication in that region. Some organizations have created tutoring materials for the Latino Twitter community, so that they can join the conversation even though the Twitter platform is not available in their language.  The more educational materials on how to use this microblog in other languages, the more possibilities of increasing the number of potential users for use this tool. It will be very nice if in the near future, Twitter could be available in Spanish, Portuguese and in other languages as well in order for the non-English community to grow even faster that is has.

Best Technology Venue: It is important to understand that the way that internet is accessed in Latin America and in other parts of the world is not the same that in the United States or in other elite countries. In this part of the world mobile technology has reached critical mass. Twitter provides a perfect platform for mobile technology as it can be accessed via text message. However, the lack of competition in the mobile industry can represent an obstacle as the prices of text message and internet services can be high. Nevertheless, this fact has not stopped mobile technology to reach high penetration rates in this region.  The use of PC is also accessible as the Internet centers have increased in Latin America which is a cheaper way to have access to the Internet without incurring in a high monthly bill.  Latinos enjoy simplicity, connectivity with others, entertainment and of course security. Twitter offers all of these factors, but they have to be implemented well throughout the voice, tone and content of the tweets.

General Notes:

According to our interviews, they show that there has not been any economic investment to implement Twitter as it is a free tool.

All of the organizations Twitter profiles link to their websites and all use other type of social media as Facebook and/or blogs.

Most of the organizations use the following:,, (Mexican shorten URL/ito is used as a diminutive/to make thing little).

All the tweets from the organizations are done in Spanish with the exception of one which tweets are done in Portuguese.

All organization are well recognized not only in their countries of origin, but in other countries as well.  All of them have established recognition and a good reputation in their particular areas of expertise.


  1. @emol
  2. @jumbotienda
  3. @cooperativa
  4. @El_Universal_Mx
  5. @latercera
  6. @marisolturres
  7. @marco2010
  8. @sebastianpinera
  9. @adnradio
  10. @diarioUNO
  11. @falabella_com
  12. @falabellaOnline
  13. @Oglobo

Q & A


El Universal Mx

Radio Cooperativa


(1)Twitter Facts:

(2) Mobile Penetration in Chile and Argentina:

(3)Mexico and Brazil: and

Burkart, P. (2006, 2006 Annual Meeting). Does Access Ride on a Wireless Web?: eMexico and Mexican Wireless Telephony. Conference Papers — International Communication Association, Retrieved February 6, 2009, from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

(4) Mobile Twitter Stats:

(5)Mobile in Latin America:

(6)Mobile and Public transportation in Latin America:

(7)Rol de la mujer latina:


(9) President Manuel Zelaya –Honduras- is ousted:

(10) Mexico’s Population:

(11) Guadalajara Population:

(12) Mexico City Population:

(13) Twitter #votonulo Mexico’s federal elections:

(14) CNN #votonulo Mexico’s federal Elections.

(15) E-mol/Marco Enriquez Chilean most voted in Tweeterwall:

(16)Brazil 2% of Twitter Population:

(17) Internet use in Latin America:

(18) Marco Enriquez-Ominami : and

(19) National Renewal Party/Chile:

(20) Alliance for Chile Coalition:

(21) Population and internet penetration in Chile:

(22) Marco Enriquez-Ominami Charismatic/Obama:

(23) Pinera latest polls:

(24) Marisol Turres Lider:{eaf5dd5c-6eab-4cec-8a5d-e7185c582494}

(25) Internet accessibility in Chile Vs. Mobile:

(26)Population on District #57: Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional)

(27) District #57 cities:

(28) Twitter and Ophra: and

(29) Nielsen’s Statistics on Twitter:

(30) Countries that use Twitter Score:

(31) Twitter Traffic around the world:

(32) Twitter world statistics Brazil & Mexico:

(33) Twitter Total Accounts:

(34)Twitter numbers in Chile

Bio: Rubi Romero

Picture 50Rubi worked in the non-profit field for over 10 years. First she worked for the Consulate of Mexico in Seattle Washington.  During her job in the consulate, Rubi opened the Mexican Cultural Center of the State of Washington (first in the northwest).   Then she worked for a Latino non-profit organization as a Domestic Violence Program Director.  During her position as a Program Director, Rubi saw the great need of the Latino community in the State of Washington.  As a Result, Rubi became an advocate and a leader for the Latino living in this state.  She added multiple programs in King County including a 23 unit apartment building shelter for Latino victims of domestic violence and opened three offices in Eastern Washington.  Rubi’s work in the area of violence against women was well recognized not only at a local level, but national and international.  As a result she was invited to participate as an expert by the Latino radio, television and international organizations in Colombia, Bolivia, Chile and Mexico.  Thanks to all her efforts, the Domestic Violence Program she managed was among the five recipients of Arte Sana’s 2006 National Latina Victim Advocate Award.  Rubi also served as a commissioner for the Seattle Women’s Commission from 2004-2006 and served as a board member for the King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Partners of America.  In November of 2006, Rubi left the non-profit field to finalize her first play “Human Borders” which was produced in February 2007, by the Stage One Theater with excellent reviews from the Seattle Weekly.   After this production, Rubi became a full time student and obtained a BA in Communication from the University of Washington in June 2008. Rubi is a member of Sigma Alpha Lambda and the Golden Key. Currently, Rubi has blog “Vision Latina” where she writes about different issues from a Latino perspective, she also has a Podcast blog that she uses to post children fairy tales with a Latino touch. Rubi also managed two Twitter accounts a personal account and Twitino.  During an internship with a local Spanish channel Univision Canal 51, she launched the channel’s social media strategy that consisted of a fun club in Facebook, and a Twitter and blog account for the news section, accounts that she managed until the end of her internship with excellent results. She also created a series of technology training videos in Spanish in an effort to assist the Latino community of the Puget Sound to learn more about social media, mobile technology and parenting awarenes, these videos aired through out her internship.  Cohort 8


One Comment leave one →
  1. 23 April 2013 9:30 am

    Thank you very much Rubi for this extensive insight into Latin American Twitter behaviour.

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