Facebook To Help Brands Convert 55 Million U.S. Hispanics


In 2014 brands must finally resolve their fate with Hispanic consumers. Most companies see only the growing number of Hispanic consumers and their estimated $1.5B purchasing power in 2015, yet fail to authentically convert this opportunity to their bottom-line. Why? Across all industries, they continue to unknowingly create tension points with the community, making it difficult to earn their trust and loyalty.

Additionally, Hispanic consumers have historically represented a longer-term ROI. Again, why? Brands aren’t doing enough to know who Hispanic consumers are, how they naturally think and what cues trigger their behaviors. Brands must invest in the Hispanic consumer the right way and do a better job of empowering their voices and bringing their unique perspectives into the fold.

Hispanics don’t want to be sold; they want brands to embrace their cultural relevancy. Instead of forcing Hispanics to assimilate, brands must consistently integrate the U.S. Hispanic consumer mindset to identify previously unseen areas for brand growth and innovation. Inconsistency is fatal. Inactive and inauthentic engagement with Hispanic consumers makes them feel undervalued and elongates the conversion process. Building momentum for your brand with Hispanic consumers requires a true intent to earn an authentic relationship that speaks to their culture within the value proposition of your product and/or service offering.

While brands are required to deliver their fair share of investment, commitment and continuity to secure a profitable Hispanic business model – the ultimate Hispanic consumer engagement process requires a two-way dialogue where both parties are equally accountable to reciprocate the promise of a trustworthy relationship that breeds innovation. One way to show that you value and respect the opinions of your Hispanic consumers is to create an online social engagement platform that embraces their feedback and flows into your innovation pipeline. The brands that do this right earn the long-term loyalty of their Hispanic consumers by giving them an opportunity for their voices to matter and even go viral. To maximize impact and ROI, brands must make social media an integral part of their Hispanic marketing strategy, public relations campaigns and community outreach efforts.

Social Media is a Preferred Avenue for Brands to Engage the Voices of Hispanic Consumers

Today, 80 percent of Hispanic adults in the U.S. use social media. Comparatively, that’s more than non-Hispanic whites at 70 percent and African Americans at 75 percent. The numbers show tremendous growth across the general public, considering that only 8 percent of U.S. adults used social media in February 2005.

More than two-thirds (68%) of Latino Internet users say they use Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites, according to a Pew Hispanic Center survey. By comparison, 58% of all U.S. Internet users say they use Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites. In fact, according to Nielsen, Hispanic adults are 25 percent more likely to follow a brand and 18 percent more likely to follow a celebrity than the general online population.

So why are U.S. Hispanics the most active demographic on social media? According to Manny Ruiz, Chairman of Hispanicize, a leading social media resource for Hispanic marketers, “Social media represents the most powerful medium Latinos have ever had to find their voice and harness their growing strength socially, economically and politically.”

With these statistics in mind, Hispanic consumers have become the trailblazers for social media trends and the future of smartphones, mobile apps and website advertising – and it’s time for brands to invest accordingly.

Facebook Launches Dedicated U.S. Hispanic Brand Offering

Executives at Facebook – knowing the aforementioned facts to be true – have made the commitment to serve as the go-to online platform to help brands reach Hispanic consumers. Facebook believes social media is an unprecedented avenue to break down barriers and build bridges with Hispanic consumers in the effort to help brands alleviate tension points and build relationships that matter – achieving both sustainable social engagement and ROI along the way. My recent conversation with Alexandre Hohagen, Vice President Facebook Latin America – in which he shared the following statistics from Facebook’s Internal Data (September 2013) – helped me understand why Facebook is focused on serving as the ultimate engagement tool for brands that are targeting U.S. Hispanics:

23 million Hispanics are active on Facebook every month and they also over-index on mobile usage, plus frequency, duration, downloads, and overall engagement. Facebook has one of the largest audiences for Hispanic affinity in the United States (across U.S. Hispanic television and other U.S. Hispanic digital platforms).

People in the U.S. Hispanic affinity cluster access Facebook more frequently than the overall U.S. subscriber base. For example, 69% of this group was active on Facebook 6 out of the last 7 days vs. 62% of all U.S. users.

Members of the U.S. Hispanic affinity cluster are exclusively accessing the Facebook platform via mobile at a greater rate than the overall U.S. subscriber base.

If these numbers don’t tell the story, here is an example of the U.S. Hispanic Affinity Group engagement levels based on a 30-day report from Facebook Internal User Data; reported and inferred data accessed on September 16, 2013 (indexed against all U.S. users) showed:

338.4M Photos Uploaded (1.3x Index)
1.1 Billion Comments (1.3x Index)
5.83 Billion Likes (1.6x Index)
4M Video Uploads (1.5x Index)
7.6M Check-Ins (1.5x Index)

“Businesses need to constantly think differently on how to connect with all consumer demographics,” says Hohagen. This is especially true when you consider that Hispanics are leading the demographic shift in the U.S. – and that by 2050, 54% of America will be minority. But a deeper look at the numbers tells quite a compelling story regarding the brand conversion potential of online social engagement:

55 Million: Hispanics in the U.S. as of July 1, 2013
128.8 Million: Expected U.S. Hispanic population by 2060 – U.S. Census Population Projections
74.3%: Percentage of population 5+ years old who spoke Spanish at home in 2011 – U.S. Census Bureau, 2011 American Community Survey
68.5%: Hispanic Internet Penetration 2013 – eMarketer August, 2013
25.8 Million: Hispanic Smartphone Users 2013 – eMarketer August, 2013

To support their aggressive U.S Hispanic strategy, Facebook has opened an office in Miami to serve agencies and advertisers – and where Mr. Hohagen will assume the additional responsibility for U.S. Hispanic marketing. Christian Martinez, previously Vice President of Network and Interactive Sales at Univision, will be responsible for ad sales for the U.S. Hispanic market and will also be based in Miami.

Marla Skiko, EVP, Director of Digital Innovation, SMG Multicultural – reacting to Facebook’s U.S. Hispanic strategy – says, “Digital and mobile play such a critical role in the lives of U.S. Hispanic consumers, who want to connect with the people and things that matter to them, on their time, every single day. We want to help our clients connect with the growing, socially savvy Hispanic consumer and enable them to have meaningful, culturally relevant conversations with this audience. We are happy to see Facebook sharpen their focus on the U.S. Hispanic opportunity to help us reach this consumer at scale as well as create engaging experiences on its platform.”

“As the online market continues to grow, Facebook will help businesses understand how to reach this important audience with flexible, creative campaigns to drive meaningful results,” concludes Facebook’s Hohagen.

Industry-Specific Online Platforms Emerge to Capture Hispanic Social Engagement

As the Hispanic online market continues to exponentially grow, this represents an untapped opportunity for marketers. For example, HealthyHispanicLiving.com (HHL) – which empowers Hispanics to be their own self-advocates for healthier living – has launched a dedicated online strategy to help brands engage with U.S. Hispanics in more culturally relevant ways.

“Hispanics are in search of accessible online solutions that speak to their culture to live healthier and longer lives knowing that they are susceptible to chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity,” explains Marisa Salcines, Editor-in-Chief of HealthyHispanicLiving.com.

This particular need in healthcare has emerged for two major reasons: 1) professional healthcare is not necessarily something Hispanics were raised with or see the value in, and therefore they may not seek it out; and 2) the urgency is greater in the healthcare industry because of the lack of continuous research and culturally sensitive outreach to Hispanics, which directly affects their health, lifestyle and well-being.

A new national survey by the Pew Research Center found that 45% of U.S. adults are living with one or more chronic diseases and that when it came to health decisions, Internet users with one or more of these conditions are more social when searching and collecting information about their health issues. “Our research makes it clear that when the chips are down, people are most likely to get advice from a clinician, but online resources are a significant supplement,” says Susannah Fox, an associate director at the Pew Research Center and lead author of the study, in an announcement. “Just as significantly, once people begin learning from others online about how to cope with their illnesses, they join the conversation and also share what they know.”

As we head into the new year, 2014 is looking to be the year of the Hispanic consumer. The brands who see this opportunity and want to seize it must take the necessary actions now to start earning their trust and loyalty – by alleviating tension points with the community; getting to know the Hispanic consumer, how they think and what moves them to act; and giving voice to the community and their authentic cultural values.

–Courtesy of Forbes

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