The boom in Brazilian social networks represents a major opportunity for company communications - provided they can properly identify users' profiles and expectations.

Interview with Leslie Orsioli, Managing Director of the Brazilian branch of social media agency We Are Social.

L'Atelier: Is the Brazilian market open to social marketing initiatives?

Leslie Orsioli: More and more! In fact we’re seeing huge numbers of consumers joining social networks. An obvious example is the increase in the number of Facebook users. Brazil has the biggest growth worldwide. Some 30 million Brazilians can now be reached via this channel, that's 15% of the population. And that's without counting Sonico, the other fashionable social network in South America, which has more or less the same number of members. So a company simply cannot ignore these new communication media. That's why We Are Social's move to set up here makes perfect sense, especially since there are very few companies in this country that are genuinely dedicated to social network management.

L'Atelier: What's special about Brazilian Internet users?

Leslie Orsioli: Internet users in Brazil, in contrast to those in the U.S. or France, are much more sensitive to the tone of a company's communications and on the social networks they look for friendly, caring relationships. Of course they respond to promotions and product and service quality, but that isn't what counts most in their eyes. They want to be able to create a special relationship with the brand, to be able to talk about themselves, and they expect the brand to listen to them. Basically they want the brand to become a friend, like any other friend with whom they converse and exchange ideas.

L'Atelier: So what does that mean for the brand itself?

Leslie Orsioli: The brand has to do more than simply run promotional campaigns. It must really woo the user, based on sharing an experience rather than just pushing something for sale. The form the communication takes must also be appropriate. For instance, Brazilian humour doesn't really do hidden meanings. A 'double entendre' will simply not be seen as funny, and a train of thought intended to create a bond with the consumer could well backfire - the consumer may take offence. Basically, brands have to fit in with the more direct style of communication that is part of Brazilian culture.