Log On to Latin America and Watch

By Ross Cullen

How do you explain the Latin American proficiency at using video as an online medium?

Gordon Brown and David Cameron have both tried to tap into YouTube as a way of engaging a new range of supporters. Yet it is only really around election time that there is any focus on their efforts.

The story is different in Latin America. Felipe Calderon, the Mexican president, has addressed the nation many times, most recently as a plea to bear with his policy towards the drugs gangs, and he knows that the televised content would be uploaded in video format online immediately.

After his televised addresses, the soap operas come back on and television audiences move on. But by not trying to stop his speeches appearing online in videos he ensures that the content is viewed many more times over an infinite time period. Online broadcasting is a free-flowing medium allowing users to engage with content as and when they want, without time restrictions.

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan premier, has fine-tuned this technique. He has a popular Twitter account (@chavezcandanga), just like Calderon (@FelipeCalderon). He has a regular television show ‘Alo Presidente’. His is an online, modern socialism that is developed through online media, particularly edited packages from television appearances published online in video format, through which he likes to grandstand and promote his bombastic, controversial diplomatic opinions. And he knows that this political theatre will be enshrined online.

At the other end of the continent, the Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is another prolific exploiter of the video medium and Twitter user (@CFKArgentina). She knows that a speech delivered looking straight into the camera speaks directly to the online community and has her own YouTube account.

The Latin American politicians have recognised that there is constant global traffic online. They understand the transience of television and the breadth and openness of video content when it is viewed online. Viewers (and potential voters) do not have to tune in to a certain channel at a specified time to watch. They can view on the move; they can view 6 months later. They can also listen to the content and browse other websites while the content plays out.

The mobile and fast-growing market of Latin America welcomes forward-thinking developments with which it can engage. The politicians have seen this and adopted video online as a continuous and open platform to project their politics and they continue to adapt as the medium itself changes.

Source – Video One: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyQ_9AHpsr8&feature=relmfu

Source – Video Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnvsT5IymHA

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