Building Multicultural Communities
For many brands, embracing social media and building community has been a juggling act. Balancing user demand and fit with the appropriate resources to assure proper customer engagement and support has been a challenge for many. As engagement is ignited and goals are reached, prudent marketers are taking the next step and adding additional channels to help expand and nurture these communities. With the mantra to be everywhere consumers are, expansion is, and remains, a core goal for many brands. So what’s missing? Multicultural social communities.
At the core to any strategy is knowing your audience and delivering an experience that meets their needs and wants — and hopefully exceeds expectations. While many brands have embraced the Hispanic community by building and dedicating customized advertising programs and website destinations, far too few in my opinion have embraced social media to drive community engagement for this growing and highly influential segment of consumers. What follows is why you should consider a dedicated social media program for one of the largest and fastest growing segments of the U.S. population (Hispanics), along with some tips to help get you started.
Big and growing community
According to the most recent U.S. Census, Hispanics now account for 15.8 percent of the 308 million U.S. population. To put it more directly, a market opportunity of more than 48.5 million consumers that should not and cannot be ignored.
Hispanics outpace everyone in the use and adoption of social networks. Consider the following:
- 48 percent of all Hispanics online have a profile on a social network, 55 percent higher than the general population;
- more than 2.3 million people in the U.S. use Facebook in Spanish; and
- Hispanics overindex in several core areas within Forrester's Social Technographic ladder.
Online Hispanic power users are highly influential within their communities. A recent study by AOL found that 91 percent of Hispanic power users spread the word about deals to their followers.
Building a Hispanic community takes more than just a language toggle. To do it right, marketers must recognize and do the following:
1. Recognize the Hispanic community is diverse. While language preferences vary based on background and life stage, Hispanics are first and foremost seeking the most relevant experiences. Therefore Spanish community efforts should go beyond straight translation and include targeted visual and cultural references that take into account ties to their home country. Take the time to understand who your customers and prospects are, then build the team and resources needed to be authentic and believable to that community — or they'll go elsewhere.
2. Review and audit existing efforts and market intelligence. If you have a Spanish website, spend some time reviewing metrics and traffic patterns to help you understand the needs and interests of your audience. A recent review of a client’s website in Spanish uncovered critical learnings and served as the catalyst for launching a dedicated Facebook and Twitter effort.
Not only did the review uncover key engagement differences (e.g., visitation and usage of the client’s website in Spanish far outpaced its English counterpart — visitors stayed four times longer and viewed three times more pages), but it also discovered navigation to a feature and service not yet available in English. This prompted the company to provide this service.
3. Research and create unique content that meets your audience's needs. Building a Hispanic community isn't about translating existing communities into Spanish; it's about taking the time to understand the interests and shared passion your brand may have with that audience. My firm did customer research for another client that uncovered an opportunity for a sports sponsorship. This sponsorship now serves as the company's foundation for community engagement and discussions.
4. Hire a Spanish community manager. Google Translate is helpful, but in order to be taken seriously you need to be real. Hire a community manager who's Hispanic and can relate to the Hispanic culture and community. This is critical in keeping the conversation authentic, real and respectful.
For many brands fighting for the attention and loyalty of consumers, social media and, more specifically, a dedicated multicultural effort offer enormous opportunity. There's audience and scale, and it remains a clutter-free and all too often ignored segment among your competitors.
Related story: Building Your Facebook Community