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Facebook: the Latino way

by Gus Razzetti on December 12, 2010

Post image for Facebook: the Latino way

This article was first published in the Marketing to Latinos column at ClickZ.com

Social media is becoming one of the most powerful tools to engage with Latino consumers. By empowering social conversations around relevant topics, the brand – a cultural connector – becomes a facilitator rather than the hero. Social media strategies should always be approached in holistic fashion, but today we’ll focus basically on Facebook.

The Face of Your Brand Online

For many brands, Facebook has become their largest online presence.

Fifty-two percent of Hispanics use Facebook at least weekly, spending an average of 29 minutes on social networking versus White Americans who spend 19 minutes. Even among Hispanic adults age 50 and over, Facebook has become their main online destination.

Still, there’s more conversation going on than brands starting their social media efforts, making finding great case studies difficult.

The good news is that the key players are taking the lead and Hispanic social media is heating up; like AT&T Latino, which started in December 2009, though its approach is still too brand-centric as you can tell by the size of its fan base: 1,500.

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A less visible brand, like Pantene, has around 10 times that: 15,000 fans. Tu Pantene added a “cultural twist”: understanding the “diversity” of Hispanic women’s hair when offering care advice (“rizado” or curly, medium-thick, etc.) and having Latino hair stylists.

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The Soul of Your Online Presence

Some brands have done a great job, not only by adding a cultural twist to their Facebook pages, but by effectively leveraging culturally relevant insights. I chose these examples because they tap into the Latino soul.

  • éne.bé.a: This is a bold move from a very established American icon such as the NBA: rebranding itself as éne.bé.a to be more relevant and appealing to Latinos. It’s a great example of real commitment to this particular audience. This fan page is a parallel NBA universe, with the right balance, as Latinos want to be recognized, but do not like to be singled out.Of course, most of the conversation occurs in Spanish except the 220-plus video highlights that are in English (NBA learned that Hispanic fans prefer to read content in Spanish but watch highlights in English). Once again, the company is leveraging how fans relate to the brand rather than trying to “educate” them.This approach has proved to be very successful, reaching around 270,000 fans. Many of the posts get around 100 likes and 30-plus comments. Typical content includes news from the NBA, video highlights, questions to fans, clips from its Spanish-language ad campaign, and news about Hispanic players. Fans can suggest questions to ask their favorite player who is to be interviewed by éne.bé.a ambassador Felipe Lopez. The name of the fan whose question is chosen gets mentioned during the interview, humanizing the brand.
  • Being Latino: This is not an example of a brand expression on Facebook but rather of how Facebook helped build a brand from scratch. Entrepreneur Lance Rios found that there was no real space for Bicultural Latinos to interact and express themselves; no media was communicating with Bicultural Latinos in English and tapping into the specific needs of this segment.U.S.-born Hispanics have grown in an English-speaking world influenced by American media, which neither represents nor includes them. Being Latino filled a huge gap in mass media communications with a conventional social media platform with over 50,000 fans in Facebook and an estimate of over 100,000 across its entire platform. Filling that gap was crucial, though the key driver was not only being Latino, but being bold. Bold because it allowed real conversation around sensitive topics like discrimination, immigration, differences among Latinos, etc. The conversations are very passionate, no matter if the subject is politics, food, or sports.Lance Rios affirms that Latinos are less afraid of saying what they think and feel, as cited by Ixmati Communications, “they are more expressive in social media and more willing to put it out there.” This passion is pretty clear in the level of engagement it has: the fans themselves start most of the conversations and content. Another key is simplicity, which drives greater response rates.
  • Todos somos Latinos (we are all Latinos): This is a simple and great idea. Through an integrated effort (grassroots, TV campaign, etc.), the Toyota Latino fan page plays a major role in this campaign. The insight is simple: Latinos feel very proud about their country of origin, which comes first to being Latino.toyotalatino
    Ninety nine different decals with the names of Latin American countries and major cities are offered for free. You can choose a formal country or city name such as “Somos muchos mexicanos. Somos muchos Toyotas,” Spanish for “We are many Mexicans. We are many Toyota owners.” Or you can go with a more colloquial approach: someone from Mexico City, for instance, could opt for “capitalino” or the more slangy “chilango.” Though the idea is more focused on less acculturated Hispanics (the Facebook page is mainly in Spanish), the concept also appeals to more acculturated Latinos, especially with the growth of retro-acculturation.
  • This Facebook page has a lot of interaction, with over 28,000 fans and growing, and almost 300,000 decals have been delivered to the public. The campaign has contributed to a more favorable opinion of Toyota. The question now is how can Toyota take this conversation to the next level? So far, most of the interaction has been around the decals. The automaker has a great opportunity to continue building on that connection between Latinos and their heritage, facilitating new means of cultural self-expression.

Learnings for Your Online Presence

Be meaningful. Social media can provide the content that TV and radio won’t provide due to costs. Brands should promote conversation and content, and be useful, facilitating a connection with culture. Latino social media should act like a catalyst for Latino culture here in the U.S.

Be simple. The more human the conversation, the more you reach into Latino’s soul, the better engagement you’ll get.

Be bold. Either rebranding yourself, allowing difficult conversations, or playing a bigger role.

Be yourself.

Stay tuned for Part 2 that will be coming in two weeks.

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