Portuguese is the leading language on twitter after English (see Sysomos study here). Unfortunately, in our geographical benchmark of the followers of 15 pharma accounts, Brazilian accounts were less present amongst pharma followers than this twitter average; only 5% of followers were from Brazil instead of 9% on twitter overall. Also the accounts present in the sample had a very low number of followers themselves (287 vs. 1,046 overall). In total, pharma’s reach in Brazil was thus very low compared to what could be achieved on twitter.
If we analyze the reach further, it becomes clear that English speaking countries like US, UK and Canada make up for 88% of the entire pharma twittersphere potential reach. Yet, considering, that the 15 accounts analyzed for this report were exclusively English language accounts, it is actually not surprising that the sample is so strongly skewed towards English. US, Canada and UK are also the countries in which twitter was adopted first. The longer an account is active, the more followers it tends to have. Canadian, US or UK account thus have between 500 and 1,000 followers more than the average! As you will see in our geographical benchmark, the reach of one pharma company versus another is therefore directly correlated with how many US accounts it has amongst its followers.
In the case of Brazil, pharma clearly loses out on followers due to language.
The under-representation of Brazilian accounts amongst pharma followers is thus probably due to language. Many companies are struggling to decide whether and where to create local language accounts. This obviously depends on internal drivers and resources as much as on the opportunity. As a starting point though, we see that Brazil features a large population and acceptable twitter adoption rates. Twitter use in this high growth market will continue to expand quickly. Brazil is a also strategic emerging market for most pharma companies. It is therefore surprising that most do not have a Brazilian twitter presence or emit at least some tweets in Portuguese.
Finally, let us also note the absence of countries like China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines. These countries are utterly underrepresented on twitter with respect to their population. A couple of factors impact this: a large percentage of the population in these countries do not have access to the internet. In countries like China the government monitors and even blocks twitter use. In other countries, alternative social media platforms exist and are preferred to twitter. However if we look at the big picture of social media evolution, it is clear that pharma cannot ignore these large and dynamic markets from a communication’s perspectives. It has to identify the relevant social media channels to reach these populations. According to this analysis, companies should thus use the Brazilian market as a learning and training ground so that other affiliates can more easily follow this lead. Eventually though, we hope to see twitter accounts, providing local customized content, opening for every pharma affiliate.