Connecting 'Like A Good Neighbor' On Facebook

How should marketers customize a Facebook initiative for the U.S. Hispanic market? State Farm's Aymee Zubizarreta answered that question during our recent conversation about how the insurance giant found its voice and connected to its Latino audience with content about music, family and culture on the leading social network.

Q:This past April, State Farm became the first national insurance company to create a bilingual (English, Spanish) social networking site for Latinos. Why did State Farm launch a Facebook page specifically for the Hispanic audience? Do you find that this helps sell financial services directly or simply provide a platform for consumer engagement?

A: You have probably heard our jingle, "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there." For us, this is much more than just a phrase, it's our mission. By establishing a social networking page that speaks to America's largest minority group, we are building an online community of vecinos where Latinos, regardless of their language preference or country of origin, can share their ideas; express their opinions or learn something new.

Given the overwhelming number of Latinos who have turned to Facebook as a way to stay connected with friends and family on a regular basis, it made perfect sense for us to build State Farm Latino.

Just like in any relationship, State Farm understands that we need to earn the trust and respect of our customer before we can have a share of the wallet.

Therefore, State Farm Latino is more about building long-lasting relationships and having a meaningful exchange of ideas and conversations with our customers rather than pitching a new product or service and having a one-sided chat.

For a brand to communicate effectively online, we believe one has to listen twice as much as one speaks while also being respectful, courteous, engaging, straightforward, and culturally relevant at all times.

Q:You included two applications on the page: one, an e-card to send for Mother's Day, and two, a music game. What consumer insights have you gained from the feedback and usage trends on the State Farm Latino page?

A: Yes, since our launch of State Farm Latino in April, we have released two applications as part of our Hispanic content strategy.

So far, we are very pleased with the outcome. Both have generated high levels of interaction, which tells us about the diversity of our audience and their varied interests.

Moving forward, it will be key for us to be able to offer a variety of alternatives for our users' diverse interests.

Q: What questions and commentary do you find resonates best among Latino consumers on Facebook?

A: Upon visiting State Farm Latino, visitors will find our voice is about passion and our passion is about people. Given that State Farm Latino has just two months of consumer engagement activity, it's still too early for us to determine if there is a specific trend or pattern that may be developing and resonating.

However, if we take a microscopic look at the conversations since this past April, the bulk of the online activity revolves around the topics of music, family and culture.

Q: How does this fit into the overall Hispanic and digital marketing strategy? And into the consumer's 360-degree experience? For example, how do your agents fit into the social media equation?

A: State Farm Latino allows for conversations to happen organically, in real time and in the language of our customer's choice.

Throughout the calendar year, State Farm Latino will use this platform as a way to promote some of the company's existing marketing assets like the Gold Cup, and the Latin Billboards to name a few. In addition to this, this page will also serve as a conduit of information in times of a natural disaster as well as a public affairs tool to engage Latino participation and engagement.

For our agents, the same holds true. Additionally, many of our agents have also begun to launch their own individual agent Facebook pages so that they can better engage with both new and existing customers in their hometowns.

Q:What recommendations do you have for other marketers launching a branded Facebook page?

A: Find your voice and your passion, first and foremost. Once you have established this, remember the key to a successful relationship is to listen twice as much as you speak, and keep the conversation engaging, culturally relevant, in-language and above all, genuine.

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