June 18, 2009

#Vivaviernes! and Other Things Latinos Do Online

I’m one of those Latinas who looks pura gringa. That is - till I rattle off something or other in Spanish. I’m one of those people we in this business call “acculturated.” Trust me: that doesn’t make me any less Latina – I spent most of the first 17 years of my life in Latin America (yes, I wear that like a badge). While my family and I speak Spanglish when we’re together, many things only sound “right” when they’re said in Spanish. And El Chavo del Ocho still makes me laugh uproariously.

I joined RLPR recently after a career in communications that focused on the general market. Working in Hispanic marketing has had a great side benefit: I’ve made a bunch of new friends who, like me, are Latinos to the core living “in two worlds.” I’ve met these folks on Twitter and other social networking sites, but never in person. Still, we’ve made connections. Names will not be mentioned to protect the innocent but there’s the fun and vivacious woman in D.C., the music-man and leader in Boston, the mom (like me) who’s keeping it all together nicely in NY, and the dad and social media guy who organizes Latinos in Texas.

My point? A zillion studies have come out lately declaring that the Latino community is very strong online, and that we looove social media.
(http://www.contactomagazine.com/articles/hispanicsonline0209.htm and http://www.hispaniconlinemarketing.com/2009/02/the-multicultural-world-of-social-media-marketing/)
I’m really not sure why that’s so surprising: we’ve always been technology early adopters – particularly where cell phones are concerned - and we love to connect with each other.

It’s also pretty obvious why we love social media. Despite differences in “country of origin” there are certain values that Latinos hold dear, and we connect over those values. #Followfriday on Twitter is great and we get involved there, but we like #Vivaviernes! created by @julito77 much more. Why? We like it because it’s a celebration of being Hispanic, of the music, food, sports, entertainment and people that “take us back” and make us feel Hispanic. (If any Latino on Twitter tells you that the music that gets passed around on #vivaviernes doesn’t make them want to dance, they are LYING.) While we don’t all have the same political views, we all agreed that it was nice to have a Hispanic nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court for the first time ever. And don’t get me started about the food conversations. (Pupusas, anyone?) We love social media because even through all the “noise” we can find each other and talk and laugh and share over things that are important to us as Latinos.

So now we have this virtual melting pot of Hispanic culture. Brands targeting Hispanics should really consider engaging with the community here, not because social media is cool or the it thing right now. But because blogs, social networking sites, video and photo-sharing sites and more help Latinos to communicate and connect with loved ones and create and share culturally- and personally-relevant content that’s not available anywhere else. And if you can help Latinos do that – in authentic ways that are reflective of our values and cultura - the connection can be lasting and powerful.

Jennifer Vides is Senior Vice President at RL Public Relations. She can be reached at jennifer.vides@rlpublicrelations.com.