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The start of the year is a good time to dig into social trends.
As usual, our latest Internet Statistics Compendium update sees a swathe of new data from across the world of freely accessible stats and our own in-house research.
This month it is the social arm of the compendium that boasts some of the stand-out insights.
I thought I would take this opportunity to dig into the Latin American social data.
After all, it is a huge and still-growing market, as well as being one that is not often reported on in the UK.
The region as a whole
Data collected by We Are Social sees South America ranking second only to North America in terms of penetration of social media services.
50% of South American citizens are in contact with at least one social network (compared to 59% of North Americans).
According to StatCounter, Facebook makes up for more than 90% of the social market. This percentage is up by around 3% since January 2015.
Thanks to country-by-country breakdowns from Internet World Stats, we can see that for the whole of Latin America (i.e. including Central America and, importantly, Mexico) there are around 296m Facebook users in total – within a total population of more than 570m.
Of course, Brazil leads the region. 49% of the market’s population use a social network and it ranks second only to The Philippines when it comes to the average time consumers spend being social online – around 3.3 hours per day.
103m people use Facebook in the country and the service is still seeing growth in market share, accounting for more than 86% in January 2016 (having grown around 4% since January 2015).
If we focus in on just mobile and tablet users, we see Facebook account for nearly 93% of the social market.
It is important to acknowledge when looking at Latin American internet trends that there is little uniformity to how respective analysts choose to focus in on the region.
Mexico, of course, is in the lucky position of potentially being lumped into discussions about North America, Central America and Latin America.
Due to the structure of our ISC, we tend to keep our analysis of the market either within the global context or the Latin American context (rather than splitting out Central and South America).
60m people use Mexico’s biggest social network, Facebook. It reaches 47% of the overall population but has actually seen its market share drop 0.48% between January 2015 and January 2016 to 91.19%.
Reach has seemingly plateaued on mobile and tablet, too, hanging around at about 91% throughout 2015.
For engagement, We Are Social ranks the region third globally – with consumers using social for 3.2 hours per day on average.
The third key Latin American market for social is Argentina. Again Facebook leads other channels with around 27m users and reaching 62% of the overall population.
Facebook’s share of the market is very notable, accounting for nearly 94% and having grown 4% through 2015.
For mobile and tablets, 94.15% of social use is on Facebook – up from 91.14% in January 2015.
Again engagement is impressive. Argentina also boasts a massive average of 3.2 hours spent by each user on social every day.
Some of the most engaged social users globally
It was the penetration numbers for social media that drew me to look at the region in more detail this month.
At least, in South America, We Are Social’s latest data shows how the region is boasting big social numbers and good penetration in high-number populations.
Yet it is social engagement which is arguably the biggest story when looking at the three key Latin American markets – Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.
In these countries we see some of the most engaged social media users globally behind only The Philippines.
With Facebook being so dominant in these markets too, the service is really hitting a sweet spot of being accessible across mobile and desktops, as well as serving up the kind of content and networking functionality which really connects with users in these areas.
Newer services such as WhatsApp are certainly starting to make their mark, but it will be interesting to see how well Facebook holds its own in 2016.