Apr 17, 2012

Reaching & Engaging US Hispanics Online

When it came to reaching U.S. Hispanics in the digital space, things were pretty tough early on.

In the 1990s, only 24 percent of Hispanics had Internet access, so there definitely was a digital and computer gap, said officials with Ogilvy who spoke during Social Media Week DC about reaching U.S. Hispanics online.

“Today, the Latino community is playing and engaging in social media,” said Kety Esquivel, vice president of digital influence at Ogilvy PR Worldwide.  Esquivel mentioned this provides a tremendous opportunity for those interested in reaching this growing audience.

Starting in 1997, things changed pretty quickly for the Hispanic audience with the popularization of instant messaging.  Two years later, Terra was launched and it became a very popular portal in Latin America, said Julio Valeriano, who oversees cause advocacy with Ogilvy.

Hispanics in the marketplace today represent $1.2 trillion in purchasing power. There are 6.4 million Hispanic homeowners, and Hispanics have the largest households with 3.6 people per home.

Contributing to this increasingly tech-savvy audience were huge milestones, including Friendster’s launch in 2002, MySpace and hi5 in Latin America in 2003, and Facebook in 2004.

Ogilvy officials said these factors really led to a boom of Hispanics in online media – a social revolution that led to iconic meetings like Latism and Hispanicize.

Esquivel pointed to SXSW, which this year has added a new award to Latinos in technology that “honors this very revolution.”

Nowadays, the numbers are growing by leaps and bounds:

  • There are 30 million Hispanics online. By 2014, it’s expected that 39 million Hispanics will be online.
  • Hispanics spend an average 29 minutes per day in social networking activities.
  • Seventy percent of online Hispanics are using Facebook.
  • Fifty-nine percent of online Hispanics are on YouTube.
  • Eight million Hispanics are on Twitter.
  • There are more than 1,900 Latina bloggers, compared with just 159 in 2009. (Source: Mamiverse, blogs by Latinas.)

The digital divide now resides between native-born and foreign-born Hispanics.

“Engage with the community,” said Esquivel. “Don’t just send messages out or just find out who to contact … we need to understand where the opportunities are.”

Phones are among the critical points of access to the Hispanic community, they said. Seventy-six percent of Hispanics own a mobile phone.

Valeriano said that five years ago, the recommendation would have been to reach Hispanics in Spanish. Now, it’s important to reach them in both English and Spanish.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager for PR Newswire and freelance writer. You can follow her @cpcube.

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