Public Relations Tactics

Using Social Media to Connect with Hispanic Audiences | Diversity Dimensions

Publication Date: 10/2009

Source: SO01 Public Relations Tactics
Product Code: 6C-100910
Organization/Author/Firm: Katherine O'Hara
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Sept.15 – Oct. 15 marks the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanics have traditionally relied on the original concept of social networks to gain trusted information. This draw to family and friends for sharing information and seeking guidance makes Hispanics natural players in the new consumer-driven social media arena.

Hispanics influence, and are influenced, through peers more than their general market counterparts. Social networks also offer a means to communicate with family and friends with whom they are geographically separated.

A 2009 study by the Captura Group examined data from the Florida State University Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication. Their national online sample surveyed nearly 2,500 people who were equally divided among the following cultural groups: Hispanics who prefer English, Hispanics who prefer Spanish, Non-Hispanic Whites, African Americans and Asians in the United States.

The findings solidified the importance of utilizing social media in building interaction with the Hispanic market. It also supports the growing awareness that one does not connect with Hispanics through English-language platforms only.

Overall, more Hispanic people (63 percent) visited social networking sites than Non-Hispanic Whites (18 percent); English-Preferring Hispanics were at least twice as likely to visit these sites than Non-Hispanic Whites; there were more English-Preferring Hispanics than Spanish-Preferring Hispanics; social media users who are 36 years old and older were nearly twice as likely to be English Preferring Hispanics (24 percent) than Non-Hispanic Whites (13 percent); and Hispanic social media users ages 36 and over represented 47 percent overall, while Non-Hispanic Whites and African-Americans combined reached 30 percent.

The Web offers few cultural or in-language options for ethnic minorities. This has fueled the trend for tapping social networks to generate original content. For businesses to connect on this level, they must be mindful of the audience’s desire to connect on a personal and cultural level.

Savvy marketers understand that the term “Hispanic” refers more to a related group of cultures rather than simply to those who speak the Spanish language. The Hispanic market is 60 percent bilingual, while about 20 percent are dependent on either English or Spanish. Hispanics originate from more than 20 countries — each bringing distinct language use and culture. When you consider standard marketing targeting such as income, housing, psychographics and lifestyles, “Hispanic market” is clearly a term that requires a bit of homework and a target definition.

While few marketers proactively target ethnic minorities, even fewer connect through social media. This translates into a wealth of opportunities for those who can identify meaningful ways to connect.

Katherine O’Hara is the co-founder of S3, a New Jersey-based advertising, marketing and PR agency. She heads the agency’s creative, production, online and Hispanic marketing initiatives.