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Silvana MassoloDirector, Digital and Social MediaInspire Agency
Social media plays a major role in how US Hispanics engage online with friends and family, powered by their heavy smartphone usage. Silvana Massolo, director of digital and social media at Inspire Agency, a full-service advertising and communications agency focused on multicultural consumers, spoke with eMarketer’s Alison McCarthy about how US Hispanics use social media, what types of content—and which language—resonates with them and how they respond to advertising.
eMarketer: How do US Hispanics use social media in ways that stand out from the general population?
Silvana Massolo: The way US Hispanics use social networks can best be observed on Facebook. They’re using it to keep in touch with each other and keep up to date on the day-to-day happenings of their lives no matter where they may live. They also tend to use Facebook to ask their friends and family for their opinion on items or services they’re looking into purchasing.
When it comes to brands, Hispanics tend to engage with them [on social media] in a positive manner, vs. reaching out for a negative reason. Many times, you’ll notice that general market audiences will use Facebook and Twitter to complain directly to a brand. Hispanics are known for being optimistic, which is probably why they don’t tend to turn to social networks in this way, and instead often reach out to brands to have positive, informative and light-hearted conversations.
eMarketer: Are there certain social media platforms that you think marketers should focus on more than others to reach US Hispanics?
Massolo: Hispanics are highly engaged on Twitter, Instagram and even Pinterest, but Facebook still has the widest reach. The option Facebook gives brands to target Hispanic consumers based on their language affinity is really valuable. I think it’s a great platform for a brand that has a limited budget and wants to understand how their customers behave and react to them.
eMarketer: Are there certain types of content that marketers should think about when looking to connect with US Hispanics?
Massolo: Light humor is something that really resonates with the Hispanic audience, as long as it fits with the context of the brand. Hispanics are also very optimistic, appreciate celebration and react well to inspirational quotes. Videos should be short and hard-hitting and should obviously work well on mobile.
eMarketer: How should marketers be thinking about the question of Spanish vs. English when creating content?
Massolo: It all depends on who the brand is going after. If the brand is looking to reach a Hispanic English-dominant consumer, they could develop content in English that carries Hispanic insights. If they’re trying to reach Spanish-speaking or bilingual Hispanics, then launching a Latino Facebook page may be best, especially if they don’t have a Spanish website. But content should be developed specifically with the consumer in mind. A lot of times brands tend to translate content from English to Spanish, and that usually won’t work.
eMarketer: Do US Hispanics respond well to influencer marketing?
Massolo: Influencer marketing to me is almost a new version of word-of-mouth marketing, and Hispanics are very passionate about word-of-mouth. It’s a great way for brands to communicate with them, as long as the influencer is genuine and makes sense for the brand. Consumers in general—not just Hispanic consumers—can see through what’s coming off as forced.
eMarketer: We’ve seen data showing that US Hispanics tend to be more open to advertising than the general population. Do you agree with this?
Massolo: They do tend to welcome advertising more, as long as it’s connecting with them and doesn’t feel too pushy. Hispanics take pride in being the first to tell their friends about a new recipe, great sale or piece of news, so there’s a lot of potential there.
eMarketer: Can you give me an example of a brand that’s doing a good job engaging with US Hispanics through content marketing?
Massolo: [Insurance provider] State Farm Latino, a brand I used to work on, does a great job. They target the Hispanic consumer with specific content created for them. They really focus on the consumer and the trust they’re building with them through creating interesting and valuable content, vs. pushing a specific product.
[Eyewear retailer] Visionworks is another one, through their Visionworks Latino brand, which is one of the brands we work on here. They launched their Spanish-language Facebook page this year, which was very well-received by the consumer. The social strategy included subtle nuances delivered through the creative in order to capture the Hispanic consumers through cultural insights.
eMarketer: What are some stereotypes you’re still seeing from marketers?
Massolo: I would love to say that things are changing rapidly, but they are not. You still see things like sombreros, maracas and mariachi bands way too often. That said, I do think brands are getting smarter.
eMarketer: What’s are some key takeaways you have for marketers looking to reach US Hispanics?
Massolo: One, stop leaving money on the table and invest in the Hispanic consumer. Even a relatively small investment can go a very long way. Two, develop content that’s inclusive of Hispanic insights, even if the content is in English. Three, utilize the power of social media to become a friend to and trustworthy source for the Hispanic consumer. Let the ads and everything else sell to them, but earn their trust through social.
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