I still remember the day Manny Ruiz asked me to join as a member of the Hispanicize advisory board. 2012 wasn’t simply the third year for the event; it was a major turning point. Manny had a clear vision: “Think South by Southwest meets Latino,” he said. The successful Latino event, previously focused on social media and bloggers, would add marketing and entertainment content. “People think I’m crazy,” he said, “but it’s worth trying.” That was the motivation I needed to say: “I’m in.”
It’s been crazy for both of us since then. For Manny, that meant lots of planning and running an ambitious Latino event. For me, that meant helping to organize the content for the marketing section as well as “recruiting” new speakers for Hispanicize 2012 (#hispz12).
Today, after very dynamic and intensive sessions, I agree with Manny. He is crazy, but he is not the only one. There are more than 700 participants who share this craziness about the new trends of Latino marketing.
Dealing With the Digital Divide
As part of the “Latino Digital Divide” panel, we had an interesting debate with José Marquez-León. He provided an interesting perspective from a community standpoint. His organization, Latinos in Information and Technology Association (LISTA), is encouraging the use of technology for the empowerment of the Latino community to conquer the digital divide.
From a marketing perspective, as I explained in a previous column here at ClickZ, the Latino digital divide no longer exists: Latinos are leading technology adoption. They are over-indexing in everything social and in new device adoption and they are leading the path toward the mobile web. While Google predicts that mobile web traffic will surpass PC traffic in 2013, Latinos are already doing that. So instead of thinking of Latinos as tech laggards, marketers should be using them as a test market for mobile.
I agree with Marquez that there’s still room for increasing technology adoption among certain Hispanic groups. Programs like Comcast “Internet essentials” offering broadband access for $9.95 a month is a great step. I encourage professionals to help support initiatives like this. Brands can really benefit by supporting the community and empower Latinos by helping them satisfy their digital hunger.
Is Social Media a Fad? Let’s Measure That
The third Latino Social Media roundtable took place today as well. I was honored to be part of that conversation with colleagues representing clients, media, marketing, and PR professionals.
There was a general agreement that clients are investing more in building Latino social media platforms. Disney shared how aggressively it is using Facebook and Twitter to engage with Latinos in a very successful fashion. Laura Spencer, social media manager at Disney, shared her approach to sticking to proven successful tools. “Don’t fall in love with cool new stuff like Pinterest” she said.
Borja Perez, SVP, social media at Telemundo shared the long-term commitment that the media company has toward social media while delivering great results: Telemundo’s fan base has almost doubled in the past year. Borja also shared updated stats on how Latinos over-index in digital and was loud and clear regarding the critical piece that the Latino market represents. “By 2015 if you don’t invest in the U.S. Hispanic market there will be no market for you” the media executive said.
From personal experience, I see there’s a growing interest among clients in using digital to engage with Latino consumers. Clients get the numbers. They see the importance. We’ve been successful in educating clients on how Latinos can be a great testing ground. I also shared how CPG companies are building multi-branded platforms targeting online Latinos. Unilever Vivemejor and Comida Kraft are great examples of this trend.
When discussing metrics, we all agreed that we must focus on those that are relevant to a specific business or brand. You can not have a single approach. Perez shared how Telemundo uses a variety of tools like comScore, Adobe’s Omniture, Google Analytics, and Facebook Insights to track its social performance. I shared the approach we use with our clients. First, that everything can be measured doesn’t mean it’s important. Second, we measure social media with the same metrics you apply to regular media: reach, frequency, effectiveness, and efficiency. Third, we measure the engagement level generating a score that, combined with standard media metrics, can be tracked and compared to other clients’ programs.
There was a unanimous consensus about social media delivering great results: everything but a fad.
Engaging Aspiring Celebrities
Blogging was also a major topic discussed during different panels. There’s been an explosion of Latino bloggers in the past years (it increased 10 times versus 2009). There was a big discussion on how to engage with bloggers. Laura Spencer mentioned how Disney deals with a lot of different bloggers to cover different conversation topics as well how important it is to expect from bloggers the same ethical codes that you would expect from The New York Times. Hispanicize CEO Cristy Clavijo-Kish said bloggers need to continue to evolve, also agreeing that should meet the same standards as newspaper writers. The social media expert added that marketers need to understand that bloggers have to be paid for their work. The blogger engages an audience who’s intrigued with the content and that is something very valuable to brands.
My personal take is that bloggers are not necessarily journalists, so we shouldn’t treat them like that. In an era where consumers trust other people more than they trust brands, people are turning into media. Bloggers are like aspiring celebrities. They have their fan base that follows them and trusts them. Celebrities get paid for brand endorsement – people know that. They also know that they need to “enjoy” a pre-roll ad video before accessing “free” content online. It’s the rule of the game. If brands do the proper due diligence in choosing the right “aspiring celebrities” to act as their brand ambassador, paying bloggers will not be an issue.
Latino Marketing in Beta
As I’m getting ready for today, I realize how digital and social media have been impacting just about every aspect of our jobs. Brands must have a long-term commitment if they want to succeed. If not, why lose your time and money? Social media is reshaping the way we do marketing. It’s not a fad. It’s not an add-on. And once you learn to have a beta approach to marketing, there’s no way back. “Are your brands ready for social media? Are you willing to let consumers post negative stuff about your brand in your own Facebook wall?” asked Disney’s Laura Spencer. “Marketers need to learn to live in a world in beta.” That’s also great advice for of all us trying to contribute to the future of Latino marketing.