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Among Hispanics, Who's Leading Digital Adoption Trends?

More foreign-born, Spanish-dominant Hispanics come online

Online Hispanics are digital mavens and leaders on a variety of social networks. The Hispanic demographic itself, though, has many distinctive characteristics, including preferred language and country of origin, and these differences create varied digital participation levels.

An October 2012 survey of US Hispanics by the Pew Hispanic Center found that between 2009 and 2012, the percentage of foreign-born and native-born Hispanics who used the web rose by 18 percentage points and 27 percentage points, respectively. This helped drive up overall Hispanic internet use to 78%, from 64% three years ago.

eMarketer’s estimate for the percentage of US Hispanics who accessed the web at least once per month is lower, at 66% in 2012, but the pace of internet uptake among Hispanics is the fastest of any other group.

Despite a lower than average overall internet penetration rate, Hispanics who are online are notably active.

According to Pew, Latino social networking penetration among internet users reached 68% last year. Of these social media users, English was the dominant language for 34% of users, while Spanish was the dominant language for a quarter of users. Another 40% considered themselves bilingual.

Social media use skews young across demographics, but among Hispanics the preponderance is especially strong. Only 13% of Hispanics on social networks were over 50.

Interestingly, Hispanic social media use was more heavily male than female by a four-point margin, compared with social media use among US internet users overall, where females dominate.

The mobile internet is another arena in which Hispanics are at the leading edge. Over three-quarters of Hispanic internet users accessed the web on a mobile device, compared with 73% of blacks and only 60% of whites.

The demographic breakdown for Hispanic mobile internet users closely correlated with social media trends. Slightly more mobile internet users were male than female. And those between the ages of 18 to 49 accounted for 84% of mobile internet users.

As marketers reach out to the coveted and growing Hispanic demographic, activity and engagement will work in their favor. But trends suggest growing disparity, rather than uniformity, among the group, and marketers will need to bear in mind the language of choice and other demographic characteristics unique to the digital Hispanic population.


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