Monday, August 18, 2008

Use of Social Networking Sites Among Diverse Cultural Groups in the US

Social Media Marketing depends on the popularity of social networking sites. In the study referred to in my prior Blog we also asked our large multicultural sample of respondents to "please indicate the social networking sites you visit regularly." We listed MySpace, HI5, QuePasa, Habbo, Orkut, FaceBook, Friendster, Bebo, Classmates, WindowsLSpaces, Xanga, Flixter, Tagged, Netlog, Reunion, Broadcaster, Cyworld, MyHeritage, Friends, Reunited, Linkedin, BlackPlanet, and SecondLife. We also provided the option "none."

The chart below illustrates the preponderance of use of MySpace and FaceBook among these emerging minorities:
The first observation is that Non-Hispanic Whites, as in the prior blog, show a lower incidence in visiting these sites regularly when compared with the other cultural groups. Interestingly both popular sites fare best among Hispanics who prefere English and Asians than among anyone else. Hispanics who prefer Spanish and African Americans, however, are still more likely to visit these sites than Non-Hispanic Whites. Again, it is emerging minorities that are leading the future of the digital era in the United States.

The following Chart illustrates that culturally targeted sites do better among specific cultural groups:

Sites that have a preponderance of particular cultural groups, or who target specific cultural groups appear to do well with them. The International Site HI5 and QuePasa do realtively well with Hispanics who prefer Spanish. Friendster, populated by a larger number of Asian Americans does relatively well with Asians as compared with other cultural groups. African Americans are more frequently regular visitors of Black Planet. Thus, cultural targeting seems to have great potential among those who strongly identify with their culture. Interestingly, none of these sites seemed to do particularly well with Hispanics who prefer English or with Non-Hispanic Whites. In the case of Hispanics who prefer English this may be because there are few sites specifically catering to them.

Perhaps even more surprising is that members of all of these online cultural groups visit social networking sites with regularity as the following chart shows:
This last chart illustrates that very few individuals in any of these groups use none of the social networking sites we listed in the questionnaire. This emphasizes the importance that this new social medium has for most online consumers.
Social networking is growing fast and becoming very popular among most Americans. Emerging minorities, however, are leading the trend. Social Media Marketing efforts can capitalize on this knowledge to establish their brands and territories in these social circles.

The moral of the story is: Go market where people are associating with others, and become part of their socio-cultural identity. As culture is rooted in social interaction, brands can become part of these complex patterns of interaction.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Social Media and Emerging Minorities

The new multicultural landscape of the United States is showing some interesting trends, at least with our recently collected data. The Florida State University Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication with the support of DMS Research (an AOL LLC Company), collected data in March of 2008 from a national online sample with over 500 cases in each of the following cultural groups: Hispanics who prefer English (HE), Hispanics who prefer Spanish (HS), Non-Hispanic Whites (NHW), African Americans (AA), and Asians (A) in the United States.

The results are quite interesting. When asked about how often individuals in these groups visit Social Networking sites like FaceBook and MySpace, the following distribution was obtained for TWO OR THREE TIMES A MONTH OR MORE OFTEN:

Hispanics who responded in English and Asians are the most avid users of Social Media with about 35% of them using these outlets 2 or 3 times per month or more often, while Non-Hispanic Whites are least likely to use these media with only 17% of them using them with similar frequency. Hispanics who responded in Spanish and African Americans are in between at about 25%.

What this new and original data seems to say is that emerging minorities are quite a bit more likely than the traditional mainstream of American society to be reachable with Social Media Marketing. It is fascinating that many traditional marketers still talk about "the General Market" when refering to Non-Hispanic Whites and seem to still orient most of their campaigns to this segment. It is revealing that it is precisely those who are not considered the mainstream are at the forefront of the use of Social Media, and apparently eager to participate in what it has to offer.

The lesson of the story is: Those who are forgotten may be your biggest opportunity.

Related links with additional resources:

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Why Social Media Marketing to Reach Hispanics?

There is a lot of talk about social media, user generated content, and Web 2.0. Marketing and outreach via social media to Hispanics is a very promising touchpoint. First let me clarify that we are not talking about the traditional field of social marketing in which the product is usually a social service, or a product that will improve the life of users with relatively little or no benefit to the one generating the message, like a health promotion campaign. Well, that is not what I am talking about here. I am talking about Social Media Marketing, like using LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Blogger, Plaxo Pulse, or any other social media now visited online, to create brand awareness, product/service purchases, and perhaps brand loyalty and a continued brand relationship.

Social Media Marketing is particularly interesting in the case of Hispanics. After conducting several studies with different cultural groups online ( ) we have discovered that Hispanics are particularly interested in new technology, having their own personal blogs and websites. This is likely due to the social nature of Hispanics who see Social Media as a way to keep in touch and maintain relationships. As these new technologies are important to Hispanics, Marketers and other entities who want to reach out to Hispanics online can set up their interactive sites in the multiple Social Media outlets available, and create buzz about something. Clearly, this has to be an attractive and useful site, but once a take-off point of interactivity has been reached, the site feeds itself and creates further enthusiasm about the brand, topic, product, etc.

Social Media Marketing is not expected to be solely attractive to Hispanics. Hispanics, nevertheless, have a strong propensity to affiliate and create networks. Now that interpersonal communication is moving from face-to-fact to virtual, Social Media marketing has great potential for creating legitimate emotional links, particularly among Hispanics.

A strategy for Social Media Marketing has to be carefully formulated, managed, and orchestrated to be effective. Companies like Captura Group ( ) are examining the conceptual underpinning on the use of Social Media Marketing to create loyal following among Hispanic consumers.

On the Web everything is transparent. A company or entity cannot succeed with a Social Media Strategy by misleading consumers. Legitimacy and truthfulness are crucial for establishing long term relationships. That is the virtue of this new medium, that it is a legitimate way of creating long term, honest, relationships.

Interactivity on the Web is now making Social Media Marketing more power than television, radio, newspapers, and magazines ( ). The future in marketing to Hispanics is here.