A social media-based group of Latinos is getting serious about influencing politics, online and off. Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) will hold a tech conference at Google’s New York offices in June, and will give the White House a town hall style forum at its annual conference in October.
“It’s the epicenter for all the Latinos in social media,” said Elianne Ramos, vice-chair, marketing for the group [photo left], describing the LATISM 2012 conference to be held in Houston, Texas.
The three-year-old organization, which has 150,000 U.S. members, also plans to host John Berry, director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, during one of LATISM’s weekly Twitter chats to discuss federal opportunities for Latinos. Weekly chats focus on subjects like the economy and jobs, the environment, and cultural issues.
And the group recently held an event for Latina bloggers in Washington, D.C. that included a briefing at the White House.
“It’s time for Latinos to become more active in the civic life of the United States,” Ramos told ClickZ News during an April interview.
The White House’s director of social media was at LATISM’s annual conference last year, she said. Ramos stressed that LATISM is non-partisan and doesn’t accept money from political entities. The main goal of the group’s government interactions is to help people register to vote and give members a platform to communicate messages important to Latinos directly to the government.
“We want to bring access to our community to speak directly to people who are in power,” Ramos said.
Twitter is “one of the most immediate conversation platforms for us,” she said, noting that as opposed to its Facebook following, LATISM’s Twitter followers tend to be more political and “geared more towards problems [such as] discrimination in the way we are portrayed in the media.” Not surprising, LATISM’s members on LinkedIn often discuss entrepreneurship on the social media platform.
Through local chapters in North Carolina and Florida, the organization is planning to participate in the upcoming Democratic and Republican National Conventions, said Ramos.
Both President Barack Obama’s campaign and that of GOP challenger Mitt Romney are using digital media to appeal to coveted Hispanic voters. In April, the Obama camp launched its Latinos for Obama group and recently introduced a bilingual site aimed at voter registration called GottaVote.org.
Meanwhile, the Romney camp partnered in April exclusively with an Hispanic data firm in the hopes of reaching the important voting bloc with online ad messages that speak directly to them. We can expect both presidential campaigns, their respective parties, and advocacy groups to seek out Hispanic voters through refined targeting and by reaching out to them through communities online and off.
LATISM earlier this month held a Google+ Hangout in partnership with NALEO Educational Fund in conjunction with its “ya es hora” – “It’s Time – voter participation campaign. On the agenda for LATISM in June is the Latino 2 Tech Startup, a meeting of Latino technology entrepreneurs, to be hosted in Google’s New York headquarters.