Friday, February 25, 2011

Why Is Twitter So Popular in Brazil?

A recent visit to Twitter's worldwide trending list would have shown a woman named Senhora Aparecida listed below the name David Arquette and the word midterm. That the patron saint of Brazil on the eve of her national feast day ranked near the latest American celebrity breakup (Arquette and Courteney Cox) and the prevailing U.S. political buzzword should come as no surprise to Twitter users, given the regular appearance of Portuguese phrases on Twitter's popularity charts. A new study published this month by comScore, a digital marketing firm, found that 23% of Internet users in Brazil — compared with 11.9% in the U.S. — visited Twitter this past August, the highest rate of participation by any country in the world. "Brazilians have just been voracious," says Katie Stanton, Twitter's vice president of international sales and marketing.

Americans are still the best-represented nationality among the 160 million people who use Twitter, an information-sharing website created in 2006 by a pair of San Francisco software engineers. But Twitter's international traffic now accounts for 65% of the website's overall content, with growing followings in Europe and Asia. In Brazil, the site has carved a truly special niche. In a country known for its vast gulf between the rich and poor, Twitter has managed to cut across the class divide. "It's not something that's just for rich Brazilians," says Gabe Simas, who promotes teen bands for MTV Brasil through Twitter. "The main reason Twitter is so huge in Brazil is because it gives access to normal people to contact their idols." Indeed, the country's soccer stars were among the earliest proponents of Twitter. To take one example, Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, also known as Kak√°, has 2 million Twitter followers, or roughly a million more than NBA star LeBron James.

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