In my last article, I asked, “Are we approaching Hispanic Social Media all wrong?” Has 40+ years of Hispanic advertising based on language, demographics, and culture led us astray in the age of social media? My thesis was, and continues to be, that marketers need to move beyond language, demographics and culture if they hope to be effective in using social media to engage Hispanics. I introduced the topic of psychographics (e.g., tapping into digital psychographic communities) and the possibility that this might be an effective starting point when it comes to reaching Hispanics in social media.

More importantly, I promised an attempt at the billion-dollar question of how marketers could successfully utilize social media to reach Hispanics. In anticipation of an answer, we need to start with the right research and approach. In an article I wrote last September, I noted that “our industry needs more robust qualitative research and behavioral models … to smartly ‘go to market’ with Hispanics in social media.” I think personas might just be the right framework.

Personas are user archetypes that help guide decisions about product features, navigation, interactions and visual design. Since their introduction in the late ’90s, they have grown in use from being a tool used mostly in the software industry to becoming a central planning tool within the Web and digital advertising community. Personas, in their traditional form, are synthesized from ethnographic research with real people and then summarized in one- to two-page descriptions that include behavior patterns, skills, attitudes and environment combined with a few fictional personal details to bring the personas to life.

I think personas provide an effective tool that can be evolved to include psychographic data (among other types of qualitative research) to help brands effectively navigate the Hispanic social media waters. It is for that reason that our team undertook what we are calling the Hispanic Persona Project.

The Hispanic Persona Project is a primary research effort aimed at creating personas that represent the U.S. Hispanic Internet population. The project methodology consisted of over 60 ethnographic interviews with Hispanics across acculturation levels, geographies, and nationalities. Understanding the inherent complexities of clustering 30 million diverse Hispanics into four to five personas, our goal was to introduce a new framework to guide Hispanic marketing across the POEM (Paid, Owned, Earned Media) spectrum. We also wanted to start a robust discussion about new market research and planning tools to use in a world of over 50 million Hispanics, more than half of whom are U.S. born.

We will be unveiling the results of the Hispanic Personas Project during a live, interactive session at the 2011 Hispanicize Conference in Los Angeles. In addition to publishing a report with the Hispanic Personas at Hispanicize, we will be providing attendees with a unique opportunity to interact with the personas, via an interactive panel of live consumers representing each of the Hispanic personas.

In advance of unveiling of the formal research, I can share information on three of the Hispanic Personas we have created:

Super User Social Techie Moderates
Innovators Always connected for social purposes Tech-savvy but not a super user
Do everything online “Heavy social user” doing it because everyone else is Uses tech on an as-needed basis
Early adopters of new
media and technology
Always the first to respond to social posts Uses Facebook as a tool to stay connected to people
Teach others
about technology
Smartphone always at their side Doesn’t use Twitter
Heavy mobile usage Texts more than they talk Uses mobile for talking, not
text or Web
Always connected Use social media to “observe”
and track people and friends
Goes online to access news
and stay connected to their roots
Being online is their main source of entertainment Occasionally shops or downloads music online

As you can see from these high level personas, they focus on digital behavior and mindsets, not demographics. While personas have historically been used only to plan digital “experiences” in owned platforms — such as Websites, kiosks or apps — they clearly provide important texture to plan earned media initiatives, particularly in interactive and two-way social environments.

Finally, I’ll leave you with some interesting topline results from our research:

  • U.S. Hispanics are heavy social media users — almost all of interviewees noted that the first thing they do when they go online is check email and Facebook — very often from mobile devices.
  • “The young teaching the old” — younger Hispanic “super users” are teaching the late adopters how to use new technology and introducing them to new digital trends.
  • Evolution from old social media platforms to new ones — U.S. Hispanics have migrated from Hi5 and MySpace into Facebook. The only people who are still on MySpace are artists and musicians.
  • Online Advertising — Interviewees mentioned they are likely to click on online ads if they are relevant to their interests or contextually relevant, particularly hyper-targeted Facebook ads.
  • Mobile Internet — most interviewees had smartphones. Those who do not have one are considering buying one.

In my last installment of this three-part discussion, we’ll take the final results of the Hispanic Persona Project and talk about applying them in the real world of Hispanic social media.

SOURCE MediaPost/Jose Villa