By Adam R Jacobson
Publisher, Hispanic Market Overview

From Facebook to Snapchat, and from YouTube to Instagram, social media has been woven into the fabric of our lives. For the Latino consumer, social media platforms are fully integrated into how one communicates with friends and family near and far – via video, audio, photography and text messages.

It’s hardly a secret that social media and Hispanics go hand in hand. In May 2015, eMarketer declared that the U.S. Hispanic consumer makes social networking “a crucial part” of their digital lives.

A full-scale report titled “U.S. Hispanics: What’s True, What’s Not True and What’s Sort of True in 2015” found – two years ago – that U.S. Hispanics differ from the total population because “social media plays a distinct role in their digital activity.”

This validated what was, and is, considered to be conventional wisdom among marketers and brand managers.

Here are some of eMarketer’s predictions for 2018:

  • Hispanic social network users will total 39.4 million people, up from 32 million in 2015. This compares to 115.6 million Whites, a slight rise from 111.1 million Whites in 2015. Similarly, growth among Blacks is slow, moving to 24.8 million Blacks in 2018 from 23.2 million in 2015. Asian growth is also tepid, moving to 10.9 million in 2018 from 9.5 million in 2015.
  • Some 79.5% of U.S. Hispanic internet users will access social networks at least monthly, versus 71.4% of all U.S. internet users.
  • Of all social network users, Hispanics will account for 1 in 5 people.

The strong family ties typically seen among Hispanics, and how this transposed to social media use, was examined in great depth in summer 2014 by Ipsos MediaCT for Facebook. One key takeaway from this report: Nearly half (48%) of U.S. Hispanics’ Facebook friends were family members, compared to 36% of total U.S. Facebook users.

Meanwhile, marketers have a plethora of choices when it comes to how to culturally communicate with U.S. Hispanic social media users. CMOs and brand managers are well aware of the need to be authentic, and why a simple translation or transcreation – even in the digital universe – may not bring the same impact as a fully developed initiative with Hispanics at the heart of the effort. With “in-language” now a secondary conversation to “in-culture,” the way Hispanics use social media very much brings one’s language front and center to any discussion a marketer should have with its social and digital media team.

This was first brought to wide-scale attention in May 2014 by Latinum Network, which discovered that 33% of bicultural online Latinos said English was their language of choice when posting on social media while 27% used Spanish and 40% switched fluidly between Spanish and English.

What does this mean for marketers? Read between the lines: Spanish was used more commonly with posts users wanted family to see. For classmates and co-workers (who may not be Hispanic), English was the choice.

The results reinforce the assessment that today’s Latino consumer easily shifts between their English-language world and Spanish-language world – oftentimes, in the same sentence. It also means marketers would be best served by engaging in social media efforts in both Spanish and English. Yes, the beloved millennial Latino is largely living in an “English-preferred world.” But, they could also be a much-desired “influencer” for marketers. If Hispanics family members trust each other and share their buying preferences and “likes,” Spanish-language efforts must be seen.

By engaging in Spanish-language social marketing, along with English-language efforts that are culturally sensitive to today’s Latino consumer, brands can best reach a diverse and still-vital segment of consumers.

In this report, we discover that Hispanic millennials aren’t the only group of Latinos that actively interact and engage with brands through social media. In fact, one group of AARP members stands out for their online prowess.

We also review how experiential marketing and social media are a perfect combination, shifting the focus away from impressions.

This report also looks at several case studies, and how every account requires a different approach to reaching the Hispanic social media user.

Lastly, we remind marketers that, despite the elevated conversation in the U.S. on issues pertaining to undocumented immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries, the U.S. Hispanic population is driven by births, rather than immigration.

Thus, many of the Latinos brands are conversing with through social media were born in the U.S.A., into families that may have a strong cultural connection to their nation of heritage but are 100% American.

Remembering this fact goes a long way with “authenticity” and relevancy.

With more than 3,000 of the nation’s most influential Latino digital content creators, journalism, music, marketing, cinema and business converging in Miami from April 3-6, 2017 for the Hispanicize conference, the eyes and ears of CMOs and brand managers will likely be fixated on the trendsetters set to speak.

We hope they listen, and use this report to help guide them on the smartest route to reaching social media-savvy Latinos.

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