By Lee Vann
President, Captura Group

Astronaut José Hernández, a/k/a @Astro_Jose, tweets in both English and Spanish to 100,000 people who have been following his remarkable life from field-worker as a child in northern California to outer space.

It’s not hard for him to find followers these days.

The majority of online Americans now visit social networking sites, and Hispanics and other minorities continue to visit them more than non-Hispanic whites, according to the 2009 Multicultural Marketing Study by the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication at Florida State University, DMS Research, and Captura Group.

The study also reveals that social media usage among Hispanics and other minorities continues to grow by double digits, with Facebook and MySpace leading the way. What’s more, smaller social networking sites such as Hi5, Black Planet, Twitter and LinkedIn have strong appeal with certain ethnic groups.

Most online Americans visit social networking sites at least twice a month

In the past year, we found that usage of social networks across ethnic segments has grown exponentially. Marketers take note: most Americans now visit social networking sites and use them as increasingly important means for communication and information.

Percent of a given segment who visit a social networking site at least 2 -3 times per month:
62% of English-Preferring Hispanics, up from 46% in 2008
63% of Asian Americans, up from 42% in 2008
60% of African Americans, up from 33% in 2008
59% of Spanish-Preferring Hispanics, up from 35% in 2008
55% of Non-Hispanic Whites, up from 24% in 2008

Although ethnic minorities are still more likely to visit social networking sites when compared to Non-Hispanic Whites, the gap has closed considerably as social networking has become more popular.

Most ethnic segments now prefer Facebook over MySpace

In 2008, we found that MySpace held a firm lead over Facebook. Today, the tables have turned, and Facebook has become more popular among all of the ethnic groups that we analyzed with the exception of Spanish-Preferring Hispanics.

Percent of a given segment who visit Facebook (2009/2008) and MySpace (2009/2008) regularly:
– English-Preferring Hispanics    Facebook (44%/18%)     MySpace (41%/44%)
– Asian Americans    Facebook (55%/18%)    MySpace (29%/31%)
– African Americans    Facebook (42%12%)    MySpace (40%/29%)
– Spanish-Preferring Hispanics    Facebook (36%/13%)     MySpace (41%/35%)
– Non-Hispanic Whites    Facebook (43%/7%)    MySpace (31%/22%)

Social media preferences are beginning to fragment among minorities

When considering a social media strategy, marketers should take note that ethnic groups have preferences between social networking sites. Consider the case of Hi5, a social media site with a strong presence in Latin America. Its success in the southern hemisphere has made it extremely popular with Spanish-Preferring Hispanics in the U.S. who want to connect with family members back home.

Today, Hi5 competes with both Facebook and MySpace among Spanish-Preferring Hispanics (29.1% usage versus 36% and 41%, respectively).
These findings are important because as social networking has become ubiquitous, specialized sites have become viable options for advertisers looking to target ethnic audiences.

Percent of a given segment who visit Hi5 and Black Planet regularly (2009):
– English-Preferring Hispanics    Hi5 (6.1%)    Black Planet (2.4%)
– Asian Americans    Hi5 (5.0%)    Black Planet (1.0%)
– African Americans    Hi5 (4.8%)    Black Planet (17.2%)
– Spanish-Preferring Hispanics    Hi5 (29.3%)    Black Planet (0.6%)
– Non-Hispanic Whites    Hi5 (0.4%)    Black Planet (0.0%)

Asian Americans are twice as likely to use LinkedIn and Twitter

The 2009 study also included the usage of LinkedIn and Twitter. We found that both sites are still emerging and most popular among Asian Americans. We attribute the popularity of LinkedIn and Twitter among Asian Americans to higher income levels and technology adoption.
Percent of a given segment who visit Twitter and LinkedIn regularly (2009):

– English-Preferring Hispanics    LinkedIn (7.2%)     Twitter (6.7%)
– Asian Americans    LinkedIn (14.5%)    Twitter (10.8%)
– African Americans    LinkedIn (4.2%)     Twitter (6.6%)
– Spanish-Preferring Hispanics    LinkedIn (0.9%)    Twitter (2.6%)
– Non-Hispanic Whites    LinkedIn (7.1%)    Twitter (5.6%)

More growth expected for 2010

In the past year, usage of social networking websites has exploded among all ethnic groups and we expect this trend to continue. While preferences of certain social networking sites might change over time, social media promises to remain relevant for all ethnic groups.
People such as José Hernández can expect many more followers. For marketers, the sky should also be the limit.

Story courtesy: MediaPost Engage:Hispanics

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