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88.1% of local social media users connect daily, most gravitate toward Facebook

Ernesto González, president of IAB Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s Internet surfers are spending more time on social networks, a phenomenon that has been fueled somewhat by an increased willingness by employers to allow their staff to access while at work, a survey by the local chapter of the Interactive Advertising Bureau unveiled Wednesday showed.

The “Puerto Rico Social Networks Usage Study” that polled about 1,000 people ages 18 and older showed that 51.4 percent of them dedicate more than three hours a day on social networks, while 39.2 percent is connected between one and three hours; 88.1 percent of them said they connect to social networks every day.

“With the emergence of social networks as a new interactive communication tool, marketing, advertising and public relations industry professionals in Puerto Rico need relevant data on the impact these networks have on consumers,” said Ernesto González, president of IAB Puerto Rico.

The data gathered through a questionnaire posted online from April 17-30 also showed there has been a slight growth in terms of the number of people who are allowed to log in to their favorite social media channel at work, to 57.5 percent this year from the 52.4 percent reported in the first edition of the survey produced last year.

The five preferred sites among Puerto Rico Internet users, in order, are: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Pinterest, Tumblr and GetGlue. They use the networks mainly to communicate with family and friends and read the news.

“Though we have other social networks in the digital spectrum, Facebook is still the preferred first choice. There was an increase from 79 percent in 2011 to 84 percent in 2012,” said Carlos Soto-Santoni, president of economic consulting firm Nexos Económicos.

Meanwhile, more than 60 percent of participants residing in Puerto Rico indicated that the presence of brands or companies on social networks motive them to seek information (62 percent) and shop (60 percent), which could be a relevant factor to companies looking to promote themselves online.

The five top favored brands among those surveyed are: Gustazos, Walmart, Groupon, Banco Popular and Coca-Cola. Meanwhile, the most visited online news outlets are: El Nuevo Día, Primera Hora, Wapa, El Vocero and Univisión.

The study showed that 59 percent of participants gave a "thumbs-up" to the presence of brands and products on social media networks.

Results stir mixed reviews
While the presentation was well attended, News is my Business learned that a good number of participants were none too happy with the information they received, saying it lacked a scientific methodology and in-depth details about local social media users.

“I would say it was more like a broad survey and the way it was presented was somewhat irresponsible because it gave the impression that it was a scientific study,” said Radamés Rosado, president of the Radagroup advertising agency. “It isn’t, so it can’t be used for cross-referencing.”

Meanwhile, social media expert Juan Carlos Pedreira, founder of CaribNews, said the study lacked detail and also questioned the methodology used.

“What jumped out was the proportion of men (33.7 percent) and women (66.3 percent) surveyed, which was not calibrated to represent Puerto Rico census figures, so the data could be lacking regarding general trends on the island,” said Pedreira. “While I think it’s commendable that there are organizations in Puerto Rico that want to gather data about social media users, they need to make sure the information they provide doesn’t raise these types of questions.”

He also expressed concern about the potential conflict of interest between having one of the survey sponsors, Gustazos, rank first among the favorite or most remembered brands.

Another participant, who asked not to be identified, also said the information was too basic, “and I expected more.”

“The IAB seeks to increase investment in digital media data, but needs deeper and more professional presentations,” the source said. “For example, they presented consumer feeling toward brand presence in social media with a 59 percent acceptance. But, which network do they prefer? How many messages are few or too many? What do they look for in the brands or out of that interaction? Does that relationship influence their purchase or support of a product?”

On the other hand, José Maldonado, co-founder of Content Driven, a company specializing in content development for social media, said the results show that Puerto Rican consumers are shifting their leisure time from traditional media to social media, and companies need to adjust their marketing and advertising strategies accordingly.

“But many companies seem to think that just by opening a Facebook or Twitter account, the followers will come. That’s a big mistake, because it is only through the publication of content that engages those users that brands are able to develop a long lasting relationships that lead to sales through social media,” said Maldonado, whose company also co-sponsored the study.

“Many businesses and industries in Puerto Rico are not leveraging the power of social media correctly yet. With an investment in social media and digital media that is minimal in comparison to what brands are spending on traditional media, a brand can establish long term relationships with existing and potential customers,” Maldonado added.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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