Brazil's sheer size and scope exceed the average American's perception and knowledge of its multitudinous topography and population. Images of tropical forests, jungles, Carnaval and Rio de Janeiro typically distill snapshots in the American image of the South American colossus. Mainstream reports and knowledge of foreign business ventures center on controversy more than collaboration, often characterized with hostile takeovers and populated with predators that aren't indigenous to the Amazon jungle. "Save the Rainforests" became the catchphrase and poster child for modern activism, not to mention a distant -- in time and distance -- precursor to the Go Green era. Current controversy abounds with headlines about alleged National Security Agency surveillance and Brazil's official response, punctuated by President Dilma Rousseff's consternation and condemnation of said snooping before the United Nations. While some dismiss the Brazilian president's outrage as a strategic theatrical production, others assert her concern and claims are grounded in international law, not to mention trust, decency and democratic principles.
However, American and international businesses are doing more than peeping and preening. Global corporations and entrepreneurs of all sizes are peering and probing beyond common perceptions and past endeavors to discover an economical wellspring of potential in the nation's urban centers, insular interior and peripheral outposts. The international arena sees opportunities to exploit Brazil's natural resources in a positive manner.
Last month, the Chamber of the Americas hosted an Americas Executive Forum Luncheon featuring Sao Paolo business consultant Clovis Lemes. Lemes not only touted Brazil's business potential, he also read between the impressive numbers and lines, explaining the fine print that presents both challenges and opportunities. Like with most business and personal ventures, exploring and expanding demand premeditated research and connections. Informed decisions and subsequent success (or failure) rely on cultural and commercial intricacies.
Lemes discussed Brazil's overall business environment, as sprawling and disparate as the country's geographical landscape. Of particular interest to many American businesses and citizens, unable to launch subsidiaries and satellite offices or take extended vacations, are emerging aspects and avenues to Brazilian commerce and culture through cyber space rather than air space and other traditional routes. Largely untapped, the Brazilian market promises an accessible, viable, diverse and eager customer base in the digital and social media marketing arena. American exposure to Brazilian traditions and customs will become more interactive than academic.
In a recent Vail Daily column, I noted that international media outlets are tossing titles and kudos Brazil's way; not for the latest soccer championship, but for another national pastime -- community and conversation, and the resultant social and digital media marketing potential. Google returns of "Brazil social media" position the nation as social media's future and universal epicenter.
Just how lucrative is Brazil's surging social media presence and participation? The Wall Street Journal reported that the national participation on social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube is increasing in user numbers and time spent, far outpacing and even surpassing most foreign social media engagement. While American social media activity slowly but steadily slips, Brazil appears prepared to adopted Web 2.0 as somewhat of a national sport, pastime and platform for everything from chats to commerce to activism. Digital and social media marketers, anxious to rush into the exploding Brazilian market -- and replenish and replace diminishing returns elsewhere -- need to pause and look beyond common digital marketing precepts and practices; customize their efforts to an abundant but diverse Brazilian audience. As the Wall Street Journal reported, social media users include the nation's growing middle class. While corporate behemoths will likely target the country's economic center, at least initially before broadening their embrace, prospects for smaller digital businesses and media marketers reside both inside and outside the emerging mainstream. According to industry experts quoted in the Wall Street Journal report, if anything, other than soccer and soap operas, unites the Brazilian people, it's social sharing -- an extroverted communalism and a proclivity, actually a passion, to share information and images.
In a Forbes column titled "The Future Of Social Media? Forget About The U.S., Look To Brazil," Hoot Suite CEO Ryan Holmes noted that Brazilians tend to be "social buyers," inclined to make online purchases through recommendations and networking on social media sites. Holmes also highlighted the nation's economic diversity and disparity. "Social media is also a uniquely democratic institution in Brazil. While the country has a notoriously deep divide between rich and poor, mobile phones give even underserved urban communities and remote rural areas access to social sites. Plus, potential for growth in this sector remains strong." He goes on to note a potential pitfall, foreign inattention to local user customs and habits. For instance, while Brazilians use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other universal platforms, international digital media marketers should identify local social sites and, as Holmes advises, "integrate with these diverse networks and help streamline campaigns."
Social media presents a conducive rather than controversial avenue for business and cultural interaction with Brazil. Historical foreign exchanges with Brazil resemble a demolition derby with international interests clashing and competing in a rush to exploit and exhaust the Amazon rainforest and other natural resources. Social media presents an opportunity to exploit a Brazilian natural resource that will benefit everyone -- culturally and commercially.