San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Spanish firm plants roots in Costa Rica

A new firm recently opened its doors in Costa Rica to evaluate how the Internet and social networks are changing the ways business is done. Spain’s Vipnet360, which specializes in online marketing, chose Costa Rica as the group’s headquarters for Central America and the Caribbean.

Vipnet360’s launch in Costa Rica began with a study to assess how some of the most important national companies are adapting their communication strategies and increasingly using social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, among others.

The study was conducted through Vipnet360’s iSonar platform, a combination of research methods and specialized software that analyzes social media and the notoriety a specific company can achieve on the Internet.

“Based on these results and more specific studies requested by our clients, at Vipnet360 we are able to establish specific marketing and communication strategies to improve a company’s reputation on the Internet,” said Gonzalo Placed, Vipnet360’s regional manager for Central America and the Caribbean.

Initial results showed that Costa Rican companies are rapidly adapting to new ways of communicating their corporate information through the Internet and social networking. The study determined that 10 of 30 of the top Costa Rican companies have a Facebook page, while only 20 percent of those same companies have an active Twitter account. However, the study also found that Costa Rican companies still have a long way to go in terms of a massive utilization of all social networks.

According to the “Pulsómetro,” as the study is referred to, Costa Rican public institutions are in the lead in terms of social media communication. The Social Security System’s (Caja) Facebook page is one of the national entities with the most Internet presence in the country. The Caja not only has a Web page and a news blog, but also an official Facebook page with more than 4,000 “likes,” a Twitter account – @ccssdecostarica – with a similar number of followers and a YouTube channel with more than 30 videos that have been played 21,000 times.

Banco Nacional is also a leader in terms of online interaction, with a broad spectrum of communication strategies throughout the Internet’s social networks. The company is present in YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

“Social networks are a modern and useful alternative to deal with our clients in almost real time,” a company statement said. “It has only been five months since we started our presence on social media sites, and we are focusing on establishing a good relationship with our clients by answering their requests.”

In the private sector, appliance store chain Gollo has become the most interactive with its clients. The company’s page has more than 48,000 Facebook “likes” that receive information regarding sales and new products before other customers. Smirnoff Costa Rica follows Gollo, with 43,000 Facebook “likes,” and Imperial beer with more than 29,000.

The study also shows the challenges of social media presence, as several companies have had less than impressive results. Spanish-Costa Rican conglomerate Autopistas del Sol, which manages the new Caldera Highway, has a Facebook page with only 569 users. Yet one of the many Facebook pages that are critical of Autopistas del Sol has more than 5,600.

“Our goal is to analyze these situations and determine if they are generalized or specific and see whether or not it is necessary to implement a strategy to improve the corporate reputation of a company,” Placed said.

By utilizing their capacity to obtain and read these numbers, Vipnet360 is hunting for companies who want to make the best out of the relations with their clients. “We are looking to sign our first contracts in upcoming months with multinational companies that have established, like ourselves, their headquarters in Costa Rica for Latin America and the Caribbean,” Placed said. The agency proposes social media marketing, reputation and notoriety services on the Internet, online research and analysis, creation of SEM, SEO and SMO traffic, as well as Apple and Android application  development.

In the European market, Vipnet360 is a well-established firm with offices in Madrid, Barcelona and Seville, in Spain. They offer services in both Spain and Italy to clients like Nokia, LG and Orange Telecommunications. In the Latin American market, Vipnet360 already has clients in Mexico, and the Costa Rican office is the fist step to expand on this market.

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