As a Brazilian living abroad and leaving hundreds on friends and family behind, I’ve never seen a bigger social media commotion from my mother nation on social media than…
the day WhatsApp stopped working in Brazil.
This Thursday (December 17), a Brazilian judge struck down a lower court ruling that ordered telecoms to block the popular messaging service for 48 hours, cutting communications for millions of users in the country. The lower court decision was ordered because WhatsApp would not hand over user information connected to a criminal case involving drug gangs in Sao Paulo. Mark Zuckerberg, who heads WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook (FB), indicated in a Facebook post that the case was related to the company’s attempt to guard customers’ data.
After 12 hours from the blockage, another judge cited the lower court’s decision “unconstitutional” and ordered the telcom’s to resume WhatsApp services: “It’s unreasonable to punish millions of users because of the lapse of one company”. By then, around 1.5 million people had joined Telegram, a similar service offered by a Russian company.
WhatsApp is the single most used app in Brazil, with about 93 million users, or 93% of the country’s internet population. It’s a particularly useful service for Brazil’s youth and poor, many who cannot afford to pay the most expensive plans on the planet.
Brazilian telcom’s have been lobbying for months to convince the government that WhatsApp’s voice service is unregulated and illegal (not entirely unlike the taxi industry’s posture on Uber), and have publicly blamed the “WhatsApp effect” for driving millions of Brazilians to abandon their cell phone lines.
It was incredible to me to see how people became dependent of a messaging app in Brazil. It was also funny to see people’s reactions on Twitter and other social media platforms.
After a year of hard work at my job, plus school, races, kickball leagues, social life, bla bla… It is finally time for my VACATION! I’m going to Thailand for 2 weeks and I could not be happier. It will be my first time in Asia and I’ve been dreaming about this day since I came back from my last backpacking trip to Europe in 2012.
Planning trips is a lot of work, but it is one of my favorite things to do. Most of my vacation time is used up going to Brazil to see my family, and for that, no planning is required. All the other times I have the opportunity to go travel, Skyscanner, The Flight Deal and the good ol’ Google are my favorite sites for research.
The one thing that changed majorly from 2011/2012, when I planned my 2 month Europe excursion, to 2015, is that physical travel guides are no longer my go-to. RIP Rick Steves’ guides! It was funny when I realized only a few days ago, that I am about 3 months into planning, and I haven’t touched a book.
In 2011 when I started planning Europe, I went to my local library and got about 4 travel guides. After spending an afternoon going through them all, I took some notes and chose my favorite book (and of course, my destinations in Europe). I ended up buying that book on my Kindle, and taking it with me to the old continent.
In 2015, here are my favorite sources for good ideas, hotels, destinations, and all things travel planning:
1 – Travel blogs
Just about everyone and their mom have a travel blog these days. Kids are leaving their corporate 9-5 job to live abroad, write a blog and collect revenue through ads and authority outreach. I can’t say I’m not jealous, they are living the dream and getting paid for it. In the end, I’m grateful because they make my traveler life a lot easier. Marek convinced me to go to Thailand. Kate chose Ko Lanta as my island destination. Steph even helped me pack. Guess who chose my itinerary? Yup, you are right. Many, many blogs read in the course of the last 3 months. Thanks, guys.
2 – Trip Advisor reviews
Oh, the word of mouth. The amount of time I spent reading reviews about hotels, activities, tours, restaurants and even transportation was no joke. It’s almost like every travel related question that I could think of it was already answered on Trip Advisor. I could not book any hotel or tour before reading reviews on Trip Advisor. These reviews are a great example of a modern day word of mouth. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. An opinion from a random person is still better than no opinion.
Technology has increased social connectivity making it easier than ever for consumers to do your marketing for you. A post that takes just a few minutes for a fan to write will be seen by hundreds of friends who trust them, and it can rapidly travel out to thousands more. The “modern day word of mouth marketing” directly influences brands and their reputation, and it is valuable to develop brilliant strategies as marketers.
3 – Facebook groups for travelers
Facebook secret groups are the biggest reason why I use Facebook. I am currently active on a group for girls from San Diego, where I live, Girls in general discussing girl problems, people who love to cook, people who likes to run marathons, and… girls who travel. It was so easy to find answers to any questions I have about my destination. According to this article, there are actually three of the possible types of groups on Facebook: public, closed and secret.
Marketers are starting to realize how important these groups are for creating a buzz for their product. In fact, many of the girls that answered my questions about my trip on the Travel Facebook group are there to promote their travel blogs. As a marketer, you can use the Secret Group to strike the balance of getting and receiving ideas, data, industry insights, or whatever information that can be useful for you and the secret members—to listen and at the same time share your marketing mojos for growth and success. As a traveler, I have to say that knowing from other travelers with similar interests made my trip planning a lot easier!
This week, the world saw a terrible attack against citizens of Paris. A city accustomed with so much joy and beauty went through hours and hours of panic, over one hundred were dead and many were wounded. My heart aches for the ones affected. Hoping for a speedy recovery for this beautiful city and for more tolerance and compassion from human beings.
Social media played an important part on this sad incident. Almost everyone with an active profile on any platform had something to say, from condolences to opinion. On Friday night, Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Joann Sfar published a series of cartoons that convey his sadness and anger on Instagram, as reports emerged that people had been killed in a string of attacks across the city. Here is one:
Facebook made the Safety Check page available, where people living in Paris or currently traveling in the area could mark themselves safe. The feature was first activated in April, when Nepal was affected by a deadly earthquake. Once again, people could use the feature to tell friends and family that they are ok.
The feature works like this: Facebook uses geolocation to identify users who live or may be traveling in an area affected by a disaster. The social-media network then sends these users a notification asking about their safety, and encouraging them to “check in” to let friends know that they are safe.
Mark Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook page: “When disasters happen, people need to know their loved ones are safe. It’s moments like this that being able to connect really matters”. I was relieved to see that all my Parisian friends were safe.
On Twitter, Paris-based Twitter users created the hashtag #PorteOuverte, which translates to ‘open door — urging other users to open up their doors to those affected by the attacks, and inviting anyone affected to take shelter in their homes.
It is interesting to see how social media interacts with tragedies like this one. I applaud the initiative by Facebook, and all the French citizens opening their doors to the ones in need.