Mexico Led Latin American Facebook Growth in February, but Region’s Gains Are Relatively Low

It has been a few months since we singled out Latin America to show how the region is growing. Since late last year, growth has slowed down in many of the region’s countries, despite their relatively low market penetrations — the opposite of what’s happening in the rest of the world. The lone standout is Mexico, which sent almost a million new monthly active users to Facebook in February.

As you can see below, Mexico is also the only country among the region’s fastest growers to post a growth rate above 10 percent.

What’s going on south of the border? Brazil, for instance, Latin America’s largest country by population, should be jetting ahead of the pack. Instead, the country has only given Facebook half as many new users as it did last November, a piddling 283,680 people. Growth has similarly declined for the other countries you see below, though they have higher market penetrations than Brazil.

Orkut, the social network from Google, is dominant in Brazil — but that’s also the case in India, and the latter is growing more strongly for Facebook.

Latin American users, with their strong regional identity, may also prefer to have a native-language network designed around their needs. Witness the recent growth of Quepasa, a new social network for Latin users that, according to a quote from its founder on, is “an authentically Latino site.” Facebook has a lot of localizing to do before it can claim the same.

Still, there are exceptions. Chile is a big one, with a 35.7 percent market penetration. The next closest Latin American country with a big population is Argentina, which has a 20.4 percent penetration.

Here’s are the top ten growers in the region. Note that we get our data from Facebook’s advertising tool, which is typically delayed by at least a few weeks.

Overall penetration for South America stands at 9.2 percent, or 34.8 million people — with the addition of Mexico and the Caribbean, this number is up to around 45 million. Despite the slow spots, we still expect the region as a whole to double its Facebook user base over the next year or so. There are other factors here, of course. Many Latin American countries have relatively low internet penetration rates, due to typically high income disparities. Most people don’t have enough money for a computer and an internet connection. Internet cafés and mobile data services, however, help offset this — and may be where Facebook’s regional growth will come from in the future.

The data above all comes from our in-depth Global Monitor report, which provides 164 pages of growth statistics and forward projections for 98 countries and five world regions.