A talk with the founder of “social media day Panama”
Let’s talk about a very interesting subject: social media marketing in Panama.
And let’s do it with a very interesting person as well! Dionisio Guerra Núñez is the organizer of Social Media Day in Panama – a country with three million four hundred thousand inhabitants, located halfway between Central and South America.
Since late ’90s the government has pushed for the development of Internet connections; in recent years, the country has constantly been on top of the ranking in the Continent for what concerns Web technologies and penetration of mobile. Goes without saying that social media marketing is playing a major role in the growth and development of the country: let’s find out what Dionisio tells us about it.
– Hi Dionisio! Tell us briefly what you do.
Hello guys! I am a journalist, and I’m currently working as a communication director at Social Snack, a company that creates and develops online communication strategies for brands and organizations. I also am a blogger for teclaatecla.com, and a very happy person.
– I know you organize the Social Media Day in Panama: how did the idea was born?
The first year – along with hundreds of cities in the world – I decided to attend the call from Mashable. At that time I was working at Cuidad del Saber (City of Knowledge), a technology park, and we started organizing several events related to social networks, aimed to entrepreneurs – yet open to a general public. We did a little event in 2010, and then decided to make it bigger in 2011, and again in 2012.
– How was the first edition, and how did the project grow?
Even the first edition – back in 2010 – exceeded my expectations. We started organizing it only 5 days in advance; we were expecting to receive 30 people, but over 70 people showed up. It was a big success, we had people sitting on the floor and outside the classroom, listening to lectures. With that in mind we worked in order to make the event grow. In 2011 we took more time to set things up, and we did the event in a big auditorium, fitting 650 people. Incredibly, the same thing happened: we got 1,100 people throughout the day, and once again some of them were standing or sitting on the floor!
This year 900 people came, but we also had many people connected via video streaming. We and also had a second stage: the Panama Canal, which hosted the closing ceremony and a networking party.
– I’ve seen you guys talked about some very interesting stuff, from Social TV to enterprise incubators, such as @CreaPanama. How did you pick the speakers?
I wanted to give a chance to everyone who have asked me, but due to timing and schedule I had to choose the most interesting topics, to bring in something different and new. The vast majority of speakers work in companies and agencies involved in social media; one of them is Mackenze McAleer, from the international digital agency Creative Asylum (you can check out his presentation downhere).
– Let’s talk about Panama: the most famous example of digital campaign from this country is probably Peugeot on Pinterest. Do you know of any other good example?
Panama is a small country, so it’s quite unlikely to see large numbers in digital campaigns. We are 3.5 million people, and 1.5 million Internet users. Very small things can go viral really quickly, but in comparison with the figures you can reach in other countries… we can say we are still a bit conservative. However, the user of social networks has matured a lot, and the interactions with brands is much more critical now. Therefore, companies are forced to keep on being creative, in order to convince consumers to stick around brands.
– The use of social media is exploding in Latin America: what kind of impact do you think it will have on small and large companies?
Social media provided a new status for many companies. They can be large or small: when they enter social networks, they are on the same level – which is great because outside of this environment smaller companies are out of the competition when it comes to getting space in press and TV, while here they have the same opportunities their larger competitors have, sometimes even using zero budget. In Panama the companies that jumped in first had a real advantage; and not all of them were big fish.
– With almost a million users, about a third of Panama’s population is on Facebook (at least that’s what Social Bakers says!). All of this despite the fact that 35% of the population cannot access the Internet from home: do you think the future of the Web will be mobile?
Definitely. In this part of the world it has been a very particular phenomenon, a few years ago. At a certain moment, everyone had a Blackberry with an Internet connection, and this made social networks like Twitter grow three times faster than any other kind of technologies. Nowadays there are homes with just one computer connected, yet with three smartphones online 24/7. Android phones and iPhone also are growing very fast now: even young people are now permanently connected.
– Last question: what is the impact of geolocation on local businesses?
Foursquare is very well accepted in Panama. There used to be some sort of fear of geolocation, but now I think it’s lost, and people found out how to overcome the privacy issues concern them, and are increasingly using applications like Foursquare. Many businesses set up “specials” for customers that use this tool. Of course, this also is strictly related with the high presence of smartphones in the country!
– Thanks Dionisio!