Latinos are helping define the new face of social media, either as influencers, content creators, or consultants. This is more evident from a user standpoint; social media penetration is growing faster than with the general population.
Though Latino presence has grown across all social media tools, Facebook growth is even more amazing. According to comScore, from April 2010 to April 2011, Latino Facebook users grew 167 percent (versus 21 percent for non-Hispanics). This triple-digit growth overshadows the overall Latino online market growth (24.8 percent) or Hispanics on LinkedIn and Twitter growth (53 percent and 22 percent respectively).
Latinos are catching up with the general market: Facebook has a 70 percent penetration among Latinos online versus 72 percent for the general population.
Love (Like) This
The numbers are pretty telling: Facebook is leading social media growth. Latinos are more than simply "liking" stuff: Latinos love Facebook. But what are the factors that are driving this dramatic growth? Here are some initial thoughts to this Latino love affair:
"Liking" the Latino way. Latinos play a very active role online, overindexing as both creators and critics. Check their walls and you see a larger amount of status updates and content posted. The number of engagement tends to be higher, with a higher average of comments, posting on friends' walls, and a larger number of followers.
Compared to the general population, Latinos use Facebook more and more frequently. And they are anything but shy. Sharing more intimate and personal things, Latinos love to share their personal stuff via Facebook. Latinos are more social and Facebook enables their social nature to the fullest.
The Latin America connection. Facebook has become the main destination for sharing news and pictures with family and friends in Latam. Thus, the growth in Latin America is also helping.
Latin American users have grown 20 percent and more in many countries. Four Latin American countries (Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Peru) are among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of Facebook user growth.
Staying in touch with music, art, politics, and sports, among others, it's taking over the traditional media as a source for news. Not simply getting the information, but having access to a broader experience in collaboration with their friends. For recent arrival Latinos as well as U.S.-born Hispanics, Facebook has become the social bridge with Latin America.
Cross-generational sharing. All Latino segments are growing, but the 2-11-year-olds segment has grown more than 900 percent. The other side of the spectrum, the 55-64-year-olds segment has grown 200 percent, far more than the younger segment of 18-24-year-olds.
Facebook has become a cross-generational social media tool. Kids are playing games and connecting with friends. Multitasking Latino adults use Facebook as a way of catching up and staying in touch with their "friends." For moms, Facebook is like having a social conversation with many friends/family members at the same time. And also, for many parents, it's an effective way to check what their kids (and their kids' friends) are up to.
The language of love. When it comes to language preference, English-preferred Hispanics has been the segment that has grown the most. Currently, 50.6 percent of Latinos on Facebook are English-preferred. This is somehow aligned with the notion that more acculturated Latinos have driven Facebook growth. As I mentioned before, kids (presumably U.S.-born) are one of the fastest growing segments.
Latinos express themselves in both Spanish and English. This is evident when you check the conversations on Facebook walls. Considering the diversity of the friends' base; playing both in Spanish and English allows them to connect with all their "friends" no matter age or acculturation level.
Brands that Latinos "like." In a previous column, I mentioned the gap that exists between how Latinos interact with friends on Facebook versus how they do it with brands.
Little by little, brands understand the need to start a social conversation of their own, if they want to win with Latinos. Simply adapting or translating their general market strategy doesn't work. True engagement requires a deep understanding of this audience. The same way marketers are heavily investing in research to better develop their advertising campaigns; they need to start taking a more serious approach to social media.
Like Me, Like Me More
Latinos are not simply growing social media presence; Latinos are driving social media growth.
Brands are catching up by building relevant content and conversations, capitalizing on this opportunity.
Though English-preferred male and young Latinos are growing at a faster pace, Facebook penetration and use is (dramatically) growing across all Latino segments.
Latinos in the U.S. and in Latin America will continue to drive growth for Facebook. Considering this love affair, perhaps a "love" button would be more on par with this oversharing, emotional, and fanatic social media audience.
Gustavo Razzetti is EVP, Managing Director of Lapiz, the Latino shop of Leo Burnett. He has 20+ years of experience in integrated marketing communications in U.S. and Latin American markets.
A change agent, with the expertise of transforming agencies into digital at the core shops, Razzetti has become one of the leading voices when it comes to understanding the new market dynamics of US Latinos.
Strategist by conviction, digital pioneer by choice, leader by evolution; Razzetti has received recognitions that include Effie awards, Gran Prix AMBA, Euro RSCG's CBI Award, and Strategic Planning Director of the Year, McCann Erickson. Many of the campaigns he strategically led won Cannes, Clio, New York Festival, London, and FIAP awards, among others.
On a personal note, Gustavo loves scuba diving, bicycling, gourmet cooking, and fine wines.