The Future of Latinos and Social Media

It was Social Media Week in Miami and I had the honor to be part of the LATISM panel “The Evolution of Hispanic Social Media” with Fernando Rodríguez and Cristina Rua from the Ford Motor team and Juan Rótulo, digital editor of PeopleenEspañol.com.

I was asked by many fellow tweeps to share some of the discussions. The panel was too intense (and extensive), making it hard to capture all the insights. I’d rather focus on sharing some of the content I presented. Hopefully, the other participants can do the same in the coming days.

The Cultural Connection

Social media is allowing people to (re)connect with their Latino tribe. Either by leveraging their social spirit or identity construction. Social media is fueling Latinos to connect to their Latino culture, even for those that – formerly – didn’t feel the need to. Shared social causes and interests are making diverse and divergent Latino groups come together.

Mainstream interests and Latino passions. Latinos are cultural chameleons, and social media is the perfect playground for them to show their colors. Depending on the topic, their colors might be more Latino (the way they socialize) or American (at work). But in many cases they show a bicultural behavior where they combine both. Entertainment is a perfect example. Take the Xfinity Latino Facebook page. It provides a comprehensive take on entertainment, both mainstream and Latino. But it provides a take on Latino entertainment that you can’t find on the general market page, making it for everyone who’s passionate about Latino entertainment (not just Latinos).

People engage with Latino interests or with a “Latino perspective.” The raison d’être for a specific Hispanic social media platform is to go deeper into Latino behaviors or interests that haven’t been “covered” by the mainstream. Or to provide a space where mainstream issues can be discussed through the Latino lens.

The excellent work that Adrian Carrasquillo and his team are doing with NBC Latino is a perfect example of this. This “New voice of American Hispanics” provides a space to discuss parenting, politics, news, and entertainment, the Latino way.

The Secret of Social Success

Social media has become so big that sometimes we forget to approach it as part of the overall marketing strategy. Successful brands have a holistic approach rather than approaching social media as a standalone tactic.

We know that Latinos show a higher engagement with brand pages versus non-Hispanics. But that doesn’t mean that they will follow any brand. People don’t engage with brands, people engage with a purpose. And the most successful case studies are precisely those that embrace this approach.

Latinos are completely aware of milk’s functional benefits. So the California Milk Board had the challenge to build a higher emotional connection between milk and consumers. Through a fictitious character, “The Master of the Glass Half-Full,” CMPB engaged consumers, promoting a more positive approach to everyday life. By providing “daily glasses of positivity,” the “Master” is always inspiring people to see the glass half-full.

master-of-the-glass-hald-full

Hispanics have a cultural tendency to believe in fate and blame: accidents cannot be controlled or avoided. They refer to it as “mala suerte” or bad luck. Considering Allstate’s purpose – to provide everyday protection – what better approach than personifying bad luck? This hedonist and Machiavellian character allows people to interact with everyday “mala suerte” experiences (including theirs). Allstate helps Latinos be prepared in case “Bad Luck” shows up.

bad-luck-facebook

We know that Latinos love celebrities. And considering its 242,000 followers on Facebook and 680,000 on Twitter, it’s clear that People en Español is doing it right. Special editions like the “50 Más Bellos” (50 most beautiful men) or the 25 most influential Latinas drive huge fan engagement. Even unsung heroes have the chance to be selected, like when the Grammy-awarded Olga Tañon suggested that a nun from Colombia be included in the list of the most “poderosas” Latinas.

people-en-espanol

The Future Is Definitely Social

I don’t like being asked to provide predictions: the present is changing so fast already. I prefer monitoring what’s happening today and testing new things as a way of anticipating new consumer behaviors. Trends don’t appear all of a sudden; they start little by little and then turn into something big. Here are some of the changes that we should monitor for 2013.

  1. Growth of social advertising. Most of the big brands have built (or are building) their Latino social platform. But most of their budget has been allocated to content strategy and community management. We will start seeing more dollars invested toward social media buys like sponsored content, as well as for the development of apps.
  2. Social moving beyond marketing. In the past years, companies have approached social mainly as a marketing tool. There’s a great opportunity for organizations to invest in platforms that can add value to the Latino community in areas like education, healthcare, parenting, etc. that are not necessarily about selling a product or service. Customer care is definitely another big opportunity for companies that want to do business with Latino consumers.
  3. Social TV taking over. The multi-screen consumption is here to stay. While this is still something new for some marketers, there’s an imperative need for them to align their TV media buys with social and understand that for consumers they are one seamless experience. Twitter will become more predominant among Latinos as this trend continues to grow.
  4. Marketers are getting the “mobile first” strategy. Everyone knows that Latinos are leading the mobile web, yet very few Latino platforms have a strong mobile component. Designing and creating for a social-mobile web is critical as the use of tablets and smartphones continues to grow. The focus should be on creating the optimal mobile experience first (from a usability and shareability standpoint).

As a final word, we need to remember that social is not about interacting with a tool or a device, but rather networking with real people. Enjoy this funny example of how a social-mobile experience can engage people in the “real” world.

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