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Monday, April 25, 2011
Special Reports

Latin America Moguls on Twitter

Eike Batista leads the way in using Twitter, with Lorenzo Zambrano and Emilio Azcarraga also frequent users.
TWITTER KING The Twitter king among Latin American moguls is Brazil’s Eike Batista.(Photo: @eikebatista)
HIGH ROAD  Cemex Chairman and CEO Lorenzo H. Zambrano tweets in a gentlemanly and professorial style that seeks the high road. (Photo: Twitter @LHZambrano)
SOCCER Televisa Chairman and CEO Emilio Azcarraga often tweets in a chummy way about soccer. (Photo:Twitter @eazcarraga) 


BY LBC STAFF

They’re all Latin American billionaires, but when it comes to Twitter, their styles vary widely.

Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecom magnate and world’s richest man according to Forbes magazine, doesn’t even tweet. His account @carlosslim has more than 87,000 followers. But he hasn’t sent out a single message.

His Mexican compatriot Emilio Azcarraga, chairman of media group Televisa, often tweets in a chummy way about his favorite pastime: soccer.  Green Bay or Pittsburg? I prefer soccer,” he wrote in Spanish on Super Bowl Sunday Feb. 6. He posted four cheers March 5 for his Mexican team America.

In all, youthful Azcarraga has tweeted more than 700 times, according to his profile @eazcarraga.

Yet that pales next to Lorenzo H. Zambrano, the veteran chief at Mexico’s cement giant Cemex. He’s tweeted more than 3,700 times, often in gentlemanly and professorial style that seeks the high road.

For example, @LHZambrano sent out five well-crafted messages in Spanish on April 15 about a new survey on Mexicans’ goals and values: what unites and divides. He linked to an article about the survey, summarized the findings and invited readers to comment on survey results for the good of Mexico.

To refute a U.S. publication, he wrote 11 tweets in English on April 8 that politely expounded his ideas and offered back-up data. He began with this: “Hello @latinintelligence read your blog post on Mexico and I am very disappointed about the untruthful description of the cement industry.” And he ended: “We always value the benefit of thorough and balanced analysis by followers of our company and industry. Thanks.”

Billionaire Sebastian Piñera as Chile’s president instead tweets with a more motivational and poetic style.“To have 500,000 Chileans living in extreme poverty and 2.6 million in poverty is a wound in the soul and heart of our country,” he tweeted in Spanish on April 22. “Together, we are going to defeat extreme poverty and lay the foundation to become a developed country ..before this decade ends,” he wrote.

Piñera also shows his personal side. “After a long time, eating with the family, with the children and with the grandchildren.  I miss these moments so much!,” he tweeted March 13 from @sebastianpinera.

President Piñera already tweeted more than 900 times. He follows more than 22,000 accounts and now exceeds 404,000 followers – about 10,000 more than Televisa’s chummy Azcarraga.

Yet the Twitter king among Latin American moguls appears to be Brazil’s Eike Batista, the high-profile oil and mining baron who has said he aims to be world’s richest man. Batista’s account has more than 12,000 tweets, exceeding Piñera's presidential postings more than 10-fold.  Eike doesn’t post all by himself. His helpers indicate when they write, ending their tweets with #EquipedoEike.

Yet Batista is extremely active on his own, with comments that often are smart, playful and progressive, written mostly in Portuguese but also in English. On April 23, he tweeted more than 40 times remaining on Twitter for more than an hour. He responded directly to individuals with thanks, greetings and banter on topics from Facebook to carbon-neutrality and even career counseling.

His personalized advice to @micheljoa1991: “Civil construction in Brazil will continue strong for more than a decade!!! Stay in that area because you already have experience.”

LIMITED USE

Despite the growing tweets from the billionaires, they and other leading business executives use Twitter relatively little compared to the average among Latin Americans, says Christian Lisogorsky, founder of SMLatam, a leading researcher on social media in Latin America.

“I believe that these moguls are aware of the technologies and the advantages of their use, but don't see them as a value added when it comes to using them as a channel to broadcast to their audiences their plans, visions or projects they are developing,” he says.

Currently, less than one percent of the tweets in
Latin America are considered of value, the rest of the people use Twitter as an alternative for Instant Messaging. “I think this will change soon as more and more companies enter the twitter space and start adding more value,” Lisogorsky says.

He believes the way Twitter is used in
Latin America differs from the United States in part because of different cultures.  “The [US] culture is more accustomed to sharing knowledge and experience [while] in Latin America [we still] believe we are in the information age -- where knowledge was an advantage, when we are in the conceptual age, where sharing information not only gives us the power of the information but also the power of the feedback,” Lisogorsky argues. “When I share what I know with you, I keep my knowledge and also add your vision, point of view and feedback. At the end you get my knowledge and I keep my knowledge and add yours to it. In the US sharing is power, in [Latin America] sharing is thought to threaten your advantage.”

Ivanka Trump, for example, uses Twitter to share value, projects, pictures and personal information as well and thus becomes more real and down to earth and closer to her audience, he points out.

Meanwhile, there is also another major difference between the
United States and Latin America: personal safety, Lisogorsky says.  There is an increasing awareness of these moguls about their security and if they tweet and people are aware of their whereabouts, they are more likely to be kidnapped or mugged,” he says. “Since Twitter implemented the geo-location feature on the tweets, people in [Latin America] are not using it in order to prevent disclosing their location. I've heard and read many stories about middle to upper class residences being robbed while their owners where in vacation because their updated an status on Twitter or Facebook.”

 

© Copyright Latin Business Chronicle
 

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