It’s a chicken-and-egg sort of question: Does the platform you get your content from determine who you are, or do your traits naturally take you to the right outlet? Whatever the answer, it is generally accepted that certain social media platforms attract certain audiences: The young and cool are all about TikTok, while out-of-touch older relatives are still lingering on Facebook. Yet, this is an assumption that, given Latin America’s vast diversity, is generally — and increasingly — wrong.
Legacy social media platforms now have very different demographics depending on where you look. Sure, in Latin America’s larger markets, a familiar story is playing out: Facebook has been losing ground, as the young see it as the bastion of their gossipy tías. But in places like Bolivia, Facebook still reigns supreme. It’s even still growing, much to the dismay of Bolivian users who might like to use another platform. According to Hugo Miranda, head of digital economy at Fundación Internet Bolivia: “95% of all e-commerce in the country happens on Facebook.”
Meanwhile, newcomers like short-form video platform, Kwai, in Brazil have made a point of ignoring rival TikTok’s strategy of attracting younger and wealthier southern users. Instead, Kwai is looking north for their target market of older, working-class folks who share their content via WhatsApp.
And then there are young and budding influencers who, disillusioned with the poor monetization options social media companies provide, are turning back the clock to the ’90s and opting for community-building platforms as ancient as email.
Social media may be a global phenomenon, and platforms may span borders and even continents, but that doesn’t mean the same assumptions work in every country. And nowhere is this clearer than in Peru.
Way back in 2021, when now-president Pedro Castillo was elected, the well-to-do, Lima-based Twitterati said that “the Peru without internet had spoken.” The only issue was that the people who voted Castillo into power did have the internet; they just weren’t on Twitter. Rather, Peru’s rural working class was campaigning on TikTok.