Commentary

Minorities: More Connected And Visible Than Ever Online

It isn't often I can begin my train of thought with a bold and seemingly surprising statement on the state of interactive marketing, but in this particular case the data is there to support it: Multicultural marketers are boldly going digital, whereas their general market counterparts have been timidly testing the environment. And this is particularly true for those marketing urban entertainment.

Minorities tend to be the early adopters--the influencers and trendsetters; needing to see or buy the latest movie or album, latest gadgets and latest fashions. Playing into their aspirational needs, they aren't afraid to spend disproportionately more for what is perceived as "the best" (64% vs. 51% of Caucasians).

African Americans and Hispanics have flushed out robust online entertainment experiences; using the web to consume more media: both premium (downloads of music and films) and user-generated content.

All interactive marketers are beginning to understand that the new hurdle is not just impressions or eyeballs, but also true consumer engagement and adoption. Targeted outreaches have to look at consumer online patterns and behavior, understanding how they are engaging with a brand's messaging or online experience and ultimately, leading to consumer initiated proactive adoption.

Leveraging technology to 'spread the word' is a daily part of the African American, Hispanic and Asian online experience, and all of this is not lost on multicultural marketers, who generally suffer with the challenge of having to do more with less resources.

Entertainment brands seeking these engaged online multicultural groups seem to be hitting their stride. Big media companies, content distribution companies, music labels have all found that digital/social networking is the perfect platform for stimulating participation in consumer dialogues. Knowing that minorities are more prone to and comfortable with consuming entertainment and create "virality" around it, multicultural marketers in the entertainment industry are creating bold programs and launching them across a variety of social networks; reaping successful rewards.

How are they doing it? Well, from our own experiences on BlackPlanet.com and MiGente.com, the largest social networks for African Americans and Latinos, respectively) we have isolated six key ingredients:

1. Self Expression: Be brave and bold and allow users to express themselves around your relevant brand messages and experiences. After all, most successful brands might be recognized and respected by many, but most certainly won't be right for all.

2. Engage, Enlighten, and Entertain: Don't forget that this is precious time for your consumers. Make your brand interactions fun and rewarding.

3. Facilitate & allow brand evangelists: Easy to say, but hard to do, clearing a path for the dialogue to begin is a start.

4. Community is driven by the members, not driven by the brands: Remember that relevancy and authenticity to the audiences in messaging makes brand campaigns successful.

5. Become a relevant and seamless part of the community: Brands must leverage their key insight into their audience to be integrated into the fabric of the community.

6. Leverage your friends: Successful brands generate "opt-in" brand "friends"/ambassadors as valuable networking assets.

Ultimately, it's not strange that multicultural marketers in the entertainment industry are leading the way with successful campaigns in new media. The interactive space is inherently more cost efficient, reaching larger audiences in shorter times, and allowing marketers to test, adapt and enhance their campaigns in near real time.

Starting with the sweet spot of entertainment is the low hanging fruit. Leveraging these passion points to their benefit is helping these proactive brands to create compelling and engaging experiences for their consumers while simultaneously raising the bar for what true online consumer engagement can really look like. So for once, multicultural marketers can take pride in leading the way, but don't be fooled, your general market peers are right behind you!

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