Abuelas, The New General Market for Social Media

My digital existence will have to undergo a serious change. Last Sunday, my Abuela casually commented on pictures she saw of my nephews on “El Facebook.” I was barely able to contain my surprise. Many of my non-Hispanic friends had told me about this very thing and how it affected their social media experience. Strange as it may sound, I thought I was off the hook, thanks to the proverbial Hispanic “digital divide.” 

Truth is, this day was coming. A recent report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that while online non-Hispanic Whites and non-Hispanic Blacks use Twitter at 5% and 13% respectively, 18% of Hispanics online are Twitter users, a difference that is statistically significant. When it comes to Facebook, the trend is very similar. According to online marketing company BIG Research, Latinos have taken up Facebook faster than non-Latinos. In all, 54.2% of Hispanics online regularly use Facebook, just above non-Latino Blacks at 47.7% and non-Latino Whites at 43%. But the story does not end with overall usage.



According to a Forrester study, “Social Media Is Mainstream For Online Hispanics,” Hispanics are actively more engaged across a number of social media channels. In comparison to non-Hispanic adults, Hispanics online are more likely to create, critique and collect content.Additionally, Hispanics are more likely to join groups or act as spectators to on-going open online forums. Given the manner in which technology has evolved how we communicate, social media has provided a channel for Hispanics to make their voices heard. The age of Hispanic social media is here and here to stay.

So, why is it that Hispanics seem to be so actively engaged with one another online, given the relative lack of content specifically created with this market in mind?

Current online offerings can be somewhat disappointing to the online Hispanic user regardless of what language they choose while surfing the net. Hispanics recognize the disparity between the amount of English and Spanish-language content available online. In the 2010 AOL Hispanic Cyberstudy, Hispanics expressed that they believe marketers are coming up short when attempting to engage Hispanics online and that they believe English sites are more comprehensive, detailed and useful than their Spanish-language counterparts. (And, yes, we are comparing!) 

For marketers, this is a great opportunity to tap into the collective nature of Hispanics and insert themselves in the conversations already taking place online. When looking for ways to engage Hispanic consumers, marketers often find that it’s not only a question of language but also of existing resources. The process of investing in new content or even trying to translate existing assets can become excessively expensive and time consuming. 

Developing a social media strategy can help overcome some of these challenges to create a strong online presence. Comparatively speaking, to create a Facebook page or a Twitter feed can be done with less economic resources or time than developing a fully developed Hispanic site or promotional microsite. Language and relevancy issues are also minimized because much of the discussion (i.e., content) will be coming from an authentic source – the Hispanic consumers.

From that point on, it becomes a matter of providing a forum for your consumers to talk about your brand. It is about listening as opposed to simply pushing content. However, that may be the subject for another conversation because right now I need to go through and censure some of my profile pictures.

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