By Melanie Edwards of ModernMami Ana Lilian Flores of SpanglishBaby

When I began blogging in 2006, it was hard for me to find other Latino bloggers. There were some, but in the last year and a half there has been an explosion in how many Latino-owned blogs are now published. In fact, the Blogs By Latinas directory had only 156 registered blogs in October 2009 and, less than a year later, has added 505 new ones, with that number increasing by the day. I think it’s all very exciting and couldn’t be happier about it.

I’ve been able to meet some amazing bloggers – and particularly women – who I wouldn’t have met otherwise. They are inspiring, smart, and generous. This is something that is not unique to them because they are Latinas, but the fact that they are, provides for an almost-immediate connection amongst us. We are able to relate on various levels, principally on living a bi-cultural life.

But you see, Latina bloggers are outpacing the general market in our growth.  According to Sophia Mind, Hispanic women in the U.S. are one of the fastest-growing online demographics, and more than 85 percent of Latinas visit social networks on a regular basis. It makes sense then, that Latina bloggers are now seeing much more interest and engagement from brands and companies. Why? For the same reasons we connect with each other; we are Americans who easily maneuver two cultures – often times two languages as well – and we love our social media, which is perfect for spreading the right message.

Let’s take a look at two companies in particular that have successfully engaged with Latina bloggers: General Mills and V-Me.

This past May, General Mills invited 32 Latina bloggers from around the country – flying most of us to Miami at company expense – to participate in the re-launch of Que Rica Vida, its Hispanic-focused family website. The event was unique in that it was the first time in the blogging world that a company focused so heavily on marketing to Latinas. Through attending, we were able to learn about the brand’s initiatives, connect with other Latinos (bloggers and journalists), and use our social media presence to share relevant information with our various online communities.

It’s a win-win-win for bloggers, brands, and the larger Latino online community. Bloggers will grow, the exploding Latino online community will have more content designed specifically for it, and for brands, well, for brands they will be first in line in a culture which values loyalty, family and tradition, so for them, can you say fiesta?” – Silvia Martinez

In addition to the efforts of General Mills, there is a group of seveninfluential Latina bloggers who are being sponsored to attend the BlogHer 2010 conference by V-me, a Spanish-language TV network in partnership with public television. This is the first time any media company is sponsoring a group of bloggers at a major blog conference, let alone a group that is culture-specific. It’s a timely decision, as this year, there will be more Latina bloggers at BlogHer than ever before. We will also have a more active role in the conference with the inclusion of the first all-Latina panel session at BlogHer and the Social Fiesta, BlogHer’s first Latina-inspired community party in celebration of Latina and Hispanic culture.

By selecting these seven women, each with their own following and niche expertise, V-me is building a relationship in which the bloggers act as advocates and create awareness for a brand they already know and trust. “V-Me’s partnership with popular American Latina bloggers is a sign of what is to come — the massive recognition by corporations that Latina brand ambassadors are a smart investment in reaching a powerful market that speaks in two dominant languages and thrives in two cultures,’’ said Carrie Ferguson Weir, publisher of Tiki Tiki Blog, an award-winning site about growing up, and living, Latino in the United States.

So, who are these women that have partnered with V-Me? The seven Latina bloggers chosen by V-me to represent the network are:

You’ve already heard from some of these bloggers above, but what do the rest of these Latina bloggers have to say about the recent surge in marketing to Latinas? In their own words:

Marketers and PR agencies are turning their attention to the Latina blogosphere in a big way because they have noticed what a diverse, opinionated and influential group we are. As the Hispanic population continues its upward trend, brands will continue to reach out to bloggers who capture the true spirit of this diverse group and that know how to talk to us in a way that reflects who we are. Such is the case with V-me’s decision to choose seven of the most influential Latina bloggers, each with a voice of our own, to represent them as Ambassadors during BlogHer 10. This is a huge opportunity for us to show how professionally we approach blogging as a career and how far our reach can go.” – Ana Lilian Flores

I think the time has come for brands to start realizing that we are a real, growing force within the online community, just like V-Me has done by sponsoring a group of 7 diverse Latina bloggers to BlogHer. I believe we’ve been overlooked for too long and as we continue to grow – not only in terms of the population in general, but also in the world of bloggers – we need to continue working for recognition.” –Roxana Soto

I believe that the support of bloggers by major brands and corporations legitimizes and recognizes the work, dedication, passion, and enthusiasm that goes into so many of the blogs out there. Blogs are the products of many creative people, people who inspire, people who support, and people who have something of value to share. When brands support blogs – good, well written blogs- they also help the entrepreneurs and creative writers behind them.

When those bloggers are Latinas, or women of color, they support something more. A voice not often well-represented or heard. I am excited to be a member of the V-Me group not because it gave me a way to get to a conference, but because it gave me an opportunity to stand side-by-side other Latinas who, despite our common culture, represent a variety of interests, lifestyles, and voices different from my own. A difference that was specifically sought out and is enthusiastically supported. Together we represent the differences in our culture on many levels, just as V-Me does. This type of blog-brand relationship is one I hope to see more of in the near future.” – Carol Cain

Are you a Latina blogger? What has been your experience with brands so far? If you’re on the brand or marketing side, what appeals to you about engaging with Latina bloggers?

Disclosure: I attended the Que Rica Vida launch event in Miami, FL as a guest of General Mills. All opinions and thoughts are my own and I was not required to post about the event. In addition, V-Me TV is a sponsor of mine for the BlogHer 2010 conference.

Photos by Dariela Cruz.

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