The Use of Facebook in Community Radio: A Quantitative Analysis of the Andean Community of Nations

1 Introduction


Communication as a process of an exchange of meanings and signifiers framed in a cultural context is constructed as a participatory and democratic action.  That is how Antonio Pasquali [1] referred to it almost three decades ago, presenting it as a dialogical, participatory and horizontal process, characterized by inter-learning and empowerment of the subjects in social construction.

In the same way, Armand Mattelart and Jean Marie Piemme [2] defended the generation of an alternative communication in their work, returning the word to the people and imposing itself as a means of popular mobilization for social transformation.

In this theoretical-critical context of communication, the fist community experiences were fittingly born on the radio.  This included the North American initiatives such as the KPFA in the United States and the Wawatay Radio Network in Canada, which had already achieved a certain independence from radio media in relation to the dominant power of the market and government, permitting a larger fight for equality and social justice.

The Global Association of Community Radio (AMARC) [3] defines this type of transmitter asprivate actors that have a social goal and are characterized by being managed through diverse non-profit social organizations. Their fundamental characterization is active community participation in radio programming, operation and evaluation; as well as their empowerment in its management, financing and property.  It is about independent, non-governmental media, that do not have a religious connection and are not the property of or controlled by nor tied to political parties or commercial businesses.

This definition, like that of many other Latin American theories, presents the immersion of the community in radio as a principal characteristic, not only as assiduous listeners or economic sponsors, but as content generators and, in the best case, as media owners with management and ideological autonomy. Community radio, then, is media that moves with its people, a cultural experience that transforms reality and transforms with reality.

In this context, community radio cannot, nor should it, level out in archaic processes of communication, in this intent to maintain cultural roots that fears changes and evolution.  Rather, as Soengas [4] explains, radio should be a participant of the evolution of society and of the media convergence in new information and communication technologies.


  • Community Radio and the Network Society


The development of and increase in access to the Internet, now almost a human right, generates new forms of social interaction, due to the fact that currently, a large part of human interaction is produced virtually. This, coined by Castells [5] as a Network Society, is based on “networks of production, power and experience” which permit one to “acquire, process, store, distribute and access information” [6] in a rapid fashion.

These new platforms of communication disrupt the forms of elaboration and structuring of messages. The specificity of media has remained diluted against the convergence that demands structural changes in the production of content in light of the new forms of consumption and interaction of the public. [7]. However, community radio, especially in Latin America, has inserted itself in these new platforms without greater preparation, and has formed a part of the network society, taking on a new space of fashion, though without understanding its demands and the new communicational paradigms it faces.

Additionally, not only does the Network Society evolve, but also the concept of community. Although interpersonal links continue to provide sociability, support, information, a sense of belonging and a social identity [8], they also take on new characteristics of the virtual spaces, referred to as such by Marta González, mentioning four basic elements that create a “community”:


  • Belonging (Log in): The people in the community share the same codes that make them feel like they are a part of the group.
  • Influence (Share this): Membership of this group grants its members the possibility to establish reciprocal influences.
  • Integration (Content is King) Members of the group arrive to a certain dependence, sharing content, achieving authenticity, operability and durability, with the personal functioning much more than the anonymous.
  • Connection (Contacts are Queen): That there be regular and satisfactory contact between its members with actualization, bonding, propagation, affiliation and following. [9]

These parameters should be taken into account by the community media in order to understand the implications that the management of communication 3.0 brings with it, with more demanding users that search for personalized attention and relationships that transcend media.

The majority of community radio outlets do not appear to be ready to face the demands of the new audience, which searches on the Internet what Apacari calls integrated language [10] in which the “word, image and sound form a unified and coherent whole” [11], acting as the basis of media convergence. This requires not a simple adaptation, but a complete transformation of its contents. Another difficulty community media faces is the consistent taking on of new roles in onlinecommunication tools, which are constantly emerging and even overlapping and require their own language and an individual management to generate the desired results.

Added to this is the lack of economic resources for training and technological innovation, without neglecting the digital divide that is still considerable in the Andean Community countries. This reality often causes the media to become isolated and stagnant in simple and well-known forms of radio production, without taking advantage of the new possibilities offered by ICT.


  • Community Radio, Social Networks and Relationship Management


In the industry field relationship management is a term focused on contributing to the improvement of relationships and the closeness between a company and its clients, in an organized and personalized way, with social networks serving as one of the most preferred tools in this field. In this way, social networks have become the best window of opportunities for all types of businesses, institutions, NGOs and communication media to be more visible for their clients and generate a valued reputation for their fansas well as improve interactions that are produced in this space.

Oerihuela and Salverría, as cited by Dupin [12], agree that social networks are a prolongation of personal relationships in real life, that is to say, they are new environments that allow one to maintain contact with his or her communities, family, friends or colleagues.  This is why these spaces make up an important part of people’s lives, since it is there where they share, debate and express themselves with much more freedom, even more so than in reality.

However, in light of this new system, community communication media has principally understood social networks as a means of diffusion and distribution [13], precisely leaving the management of relationships behind and throwing away its efforts to be present in each social network that arises. It has concentrated on generating the greatest quantity of information possible, leaving behind user participation. And thus, the function of a telephone call or a letter to the editor in traditional media is replaced by a like or by visualizations, in place of taking advantage of the characteristics of the virtual platform to generate an active and mobilized public.

For the journalist and expert in digital culture, Luis Fernández [14], social networks should be considered as “virtual spaces organized to develop projects, integrate communities, create services and project themselves using all virtual ability”.

Community radio, then, should use the potential of these new forms of creating a community to strengthen the very characteristic of media that makes the roles of sender and receiver be easily interchangeable and, especially, generate closeness and familiarity with the listener to empower the community to feel a shared responsibility of the management of the media.


  • Facebook, a Platform for Social Integration


One of the social networks with the greatest impact at the global level is Facebook, created by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004 as a class project, which sought to create an exchange of messages and content in a simple manner through the Internet.  In June of 2017, Zuckerberg announced that it had reached 2 billion users at a global level. This network, in only 13 years, has converted into the website with the most users of all types and ages.  Its acceptance is due in great deal to its easy access, intuitive interface and constant innovation.

The greatest advantage this network offers is its high component of interactivity and the generation of pro-consumers, making all the communication tools available to any person on a personal, familial, educational, social and even global level, with a high sense of belonging and identity, causing to occupy a large space in people’s lives. [15]

            Sued indicates that the virtual communities on Facebook are made up of four principle elements that are present in a big or small way.  The emergence of political debates, support of members of distinct causes, the formation of an individual and group identity, and the narrow relationship between what is real and what is virtual (…). Facebook users, when posting, generate a convergence of points of view. The repercussion that a post has for other users generates that…the completion of a thought is missing, in a platform that permits everyone to express themselves horizontally without hierarchies.  Collective intelligence, then, is a consequence, fundamentally based on communication. [16].

In this way, Facebook, ignoring the many critiques it faces for its management of information and user privacy, constitutes a platform that allows social relationships to be visualized, offering a scenario for community radio that, in the first place, strengthens community unity, and in second place, promotes development and social projects that may benefit its audience and the collective community.



  • Methodology


This research aims to quantify the basic paradigms of management and the use of the social network Facebook by community radio of the countries that make up the Andean Community of Nations (CAN).  It starts with the bibliographic review of several authors who serve as the basis for analysis.  In this exploratory descriptive study, the Facebookaccounts of the community radios of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia were observed in order to determine the numerical indices of their management.

The analysis begins with the determination of samples, for which a census was distributed to the community radios in the Andean Community countries, studying the official webpages of governmental entities that government telecommunications in these countries.  In the case of Peru, for not finding the detailed information in the official organism, the list provided by the Global Association of Community Radio (AMARC) was taken as the basis, from which a digital review of the aforementioned radios was developed to determine if the there was indeed a self-designation of community.  To complement this list, journalistic and academic research was accessed as well as a selection of the quantity established in government data.  Once the radios were determined, their respective Facebookaccounts were located to determine their presence on this social network.

The second sample was formed by the radios that possessed a fanpageestablished on Facebook’s platform, in which the following indicators were examined:


Table 1. Indicators in the analysis of fanpages of community radio in CAN countries


Variable Indicator Detail
Performance Performance index Average increase and participation of fans, out of 100.
  % increase from the starting point Increase in fans and publications from the opening of the fanpage


Recognition Number of fans Quantity of followers
  Number of “likes” Quantity of interested parties
  Total growth Increase in fans within the period




Total number of publications within the period
  “image” publications Quantity of images posted within the period
  “video” publications Quantity of videos posted within the period
  “link” publications Quantity of links posted within the period
Participation Commitment Average number of interactions Reactions / fans
  Reactions Number of reactions within the time period
  Comments Number of comments within the time period
  Shares Number of shares within the time period
  Fan publications Number of publications by followers within the time period


Interactivity Comments on fan publications Number of feedbacks within the time period


            For the collection of data, the digital tool Fanpage karma was used, applicated to the fanpages of community radios in a period of 90 days, that is to say, from June 1st to August 31st, 2017.  from there, the data from each country was developed to create comparative tables that permit a global vision of the situation of community radios on Facebook.


3 Analysis of Results


The countries analyzed, while having similar socioeconomic and cultural realities, present stark differences in terms of the existence of state-recognized community radios and their acccess to Facebook.  Graph 1 shows the total quantity of community radios in the countries, separating them into three categories; Fanpage, which refers to the radios that have an institutional page on Facebook; Does not analyze,in terms of the existence of personal profiles; and Does not have,which corresponds to groups with less than 100 followers or which have insufficient activity, which are not an object of analysis for the indicators.




                          Fanpage       Does not Analyze       Does not Have                               


Fig 1. Relationship with access to Facebook by community radios in CAN countries


In the graph, one can clearly observe the existent gap between the quantity of community radios in Colombia (627) with the other CAN countries, which, all together (120) do not reach even 25% of the radios in Colombia.  Even so, in terms of a porcentual difference, Colombian radios do not present a high institutional access to Facebook, with only 34% of radios having fanpages, in comparison with Ecuador (62%), Peru (74%) and Bolivia (17%), which has more radio stations than Ecuador and Peru (56) but does not use Facebookits in communication processes.

In terms of the analysis of management parameters of social networks, the two first variables are shown, indicating the performance and recognition of the Fanpage,taking into account that, due to the difference in the number of radio stations per country, the averages of each country are presented.


Table 2. Relationship and recognition of fanpages of community radios in CAN countries


Countries Performance Index % Increase from the start date Fans Likes Growth
Colombia 10.13% 0.55% 3,574.50 1,271.49 48.54
Ecuador 14.83% 1.28% 89,714.04 31,744.88 50.54
Peru 38.43% 7.22% 21,579.71 21,265.43 1,916.07
Bolivia 23.75% 3.37% 1,626.67 876.56 35.00



In the table, it can be observed that Peru leads in the majority of indicators, presenting a higher average in Performance index (increase in fans and participation) with 3 radios obtaining a percentage of 100/100; in Ecuador, the highest percentage achieved by a radio is 64/100; in Colombia they reach 59/100 and in Bolivia 53/100 in terms of the maximum range for individual qualifications.  The same tendency is maintained in the Percent increase from the start date, and in total growth, but falls in terms of the average number of followers and number of people interested; indicators in which Ecuador presents the highest index.  The averages that Colombian radio present are important, as this country has the most Internet access and social media presence, obtaining first place in the 2017 statistics, according to the organization “Alianza para el Internet Asequible” (Alliance for Accessible Internet) (A4AI).  Even so, it is evident that community radio is relegated in terms of the management of Facebook.

In terms of the management variable, the average number of publications of the radios in each country are shown, taking into account multimedia indicators as well, such as the publication of images, videos and links.



Total Publications; Images; Videos; Links


Fig 2. Average number of publications by community radios in CAN countries


A big advantage for Peru can be seen in terms of the average number of publications by its community radios, which shows a high management factor, taking into account that an analysis of 90 days was carried out, implying an average of 7 publications daily. The data for Ecuador, however, presents a low index of the publication of links, indicating a lack of hyptertextuality in the fanpages of its radios; a situation that is also true for Bolivia.  In regard to Colombia, its lowest index is for the publication of videos, which constitute a powerful tool in social media to eliminate the limitations the radio faces of only appealing to one of the five senses.


The two last variables analyzed show the situation of the radios in terms of participation and interactivity, which are of vital importance.  It could even be said that they represent the reason to use social media.


Table 3. Indicators of the participation and interactivity of community radios in CAN countries.


Countries Commitment Reactions Comments Shares Fan Publications Comments on Fan Publications
Colombia 0.17% 1,513.07 157.20 1,157.95 4.07 0.40
Ecuador 0.43% 34,451.85 2,037.31 7,656.85 6.85 2.08
Perú 2.21% 30,608.07 7,063.21 20,497.36 28.14 6.43
Bolivia 0.81% 1,124.67 153.33 440.00 1.89 2.11



According to the comparative analysis, Peru has the greatest advantage over the other countries in the majority of indicators, but in terms of reactions to publications, a higher average is seen in Ecuador. Although in terms of comments and, above all, the action of sharing publications, Peru exceeds the indexes in Ecuador.  On the other hand, the variable of interactivity analyzed through the comments on fan publications indicates a poor feedback process by the community radios towards their audiences, resulting that Colombia is the country in which less radios respond to their listeners.

In a general vision of the data, the participation indexes are very low.  In the case of Peru, for example, a relationship of only 44.87 reactions per publication is seen, which indicates that from an average of more than 21 thousand fans, only 50 participate in a basic manner.  Actually, in the two final indicators, the active participation index with comments (10.35 comments per publication) and fan publications (.0001 publications per fan), show a reality that is not much better in the other countries, as observed in Graph 3.




Reactions/ Publications; Comments/Publications; Fan Publications/Fans


Fig. 3. Relationship of the indicators of participation, management and recognition in community radios in CAN countries.


The indicator that sticks out in the graph shows that Ecuador has a good average in terms of the relationship between reactions and publications, showing a basic level of participation by the Ecuadorian audience in community radios.  While a more active participation is desired, through comments and publications, its relationship between the other indicators is very low.




  • Community radio is a current and necessary form of media in the current context to promote the democratization of communication, as well as the strengthening of social relationships for the generation of a cultural identity.
  • The situation of the use and management of Facebook in the Andean Community of Nations presents various weaknesses that begin with the legislative reality of community radios, which, regardless of many efforts, are still relegated to rural spaces, experiencing coverage limitations and are minimized by the government.
  • The percent analyses of the variables and indicators of community radios constitute the first step of this research. It is necessary to generate social change projects, with the development of community media, providing the necessary tools for a just competition against private communication in order to achieve the necessary sustainability.
  • For social networks, so congested and saturated with information, such as in the case of Facebook,it is very important to be conscience of the limitations and threats that it may be bring. Community radio must be able to mark differences and spaces of their own, which link the interests of the public with the goal of identifying with the media.
  • It is necessary to understood the virtuality of social networks as a tool with advantages and disadvantages, not as the panacea of communication.Community radio must not forget that its principal role is making a community not only in the virtual world, but in reality, face-to-face.




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A translation work by 9h05
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