The following story is just one of many “how to” articles from the 2010/2011 edition of the U.S. Hispanic Social Media Guide that’s being released nationally this week.  To receive this comprehensive guide to Hispanic social media marketing FREE go to http://www.hispanicprblog.com/hispanicize.

BY MANNY RUIZ
PUBLISHER
U.S. Hispanic Social Media Guide (2010-2011 Edition)

If you scour the Latino web as often as I do, you’ll notice that one of the biggest trends right now is that not only are Latinos definitely engaging more through social media but that they are producing unique content as bloggers as well. 

I’ve only been blogging daily for a year but it has taken me a short time to see the dynamic array of blogs emerging in what we call the Hispanic blogosphere.

If you want to find a “mami blog” – easily one of the top three content categories in the Hispanic blogosphere – take your pick. There are at least 24 (and counting) mami bloggers that I’ve identified and each of are as varied as the family lives they live. Want a good blog that talks culture or politics in general? Sit down and learn about one of the more than 50 quality ones out there.

Latinos are increasingly creating blogs to make their viewpoints known and many are getting very specific in what they write about in Spanish, English, bilingual and even Spanglish. In the true spirit of blogs, Latinos are even blogging regularly about such hyper specific topics as taco establishments in Austin. (Don’t believe me? Go to TacoJournalism.com).

As a blog publisher of two sites (Hispanic PR Blog and PapiBlogger), I have the unique opportunity to hear both sides of the conversations taking place around Hispanic blogs. Leading brands are studying or asking their marketing agencies to investigate every known Latino blog that strategically fits their marketing initiatives, products, brands and/or services. From the viewpoint of Hispanic bloggers, the issue is usually about how to continue producing great original content in one or two languages and possibly make a living at the same time. (One sage marketing blogger has noted that more than 98% of blogs are not viable businesses).

VETTING THE BLOGS AND YOUR EXPECTATIONS

As a marketer targeting Latino consumers, the first step in working with Hispanic bloggers is knowing who are the quality ones to work with. The definition of a good Latino blog is highly subjective but in general the best blogs are well written, publish consistently at least three times a week and have a very defined editorial criteria. Without these elements Latino blogs typically won’t gain a loyal, growing audience.

Remember that most Hispanic blogs can’t be measured side by side with the audience numbers of a major Hispanic portal. Most of the best ones have just a couple thousand unique visitors. They have as few as 1,000 followers or more on Twitter and/or Facebook.

The tricky part is that the number of visitors and followers are only part of the story. Most seasoned social media marketers will tell you that the criteria they use for judging bloggers is not just the number of followers the blogs have but who is following them and what is the quality of those interactions. It boils down to quality followers/audience vs. quantity, which is precisely why savvy marketers are so interested in learning more about Hispanic bloggers.

The final factor to keep in mind about Hispanic bloggers is that most of them fall into one of three types. Some blog exist just to get free stuff. Others depend wholly on what they generate through their blog. The third type of bloggers are the ones who are passionate about a topic or issue and don’t have any specific interest in either getting free stuff or generating revenue. Many blogs fall somewhere between the first and second types listed above.

If you are a marketer trying to learn the ins and outs of working with Latino bloggers here are a couple of top tips you need to know about how to effectively collaborate with them.

KNOW THY BLOGGER

In two conference sessions with and about Latino bloggers at the 2010 Hispanic PR & Social Media Conference everyone heard the No. 1 complaint Hispanic bloggers have about marketers: they call us without knowing who we are. This is the first cardinal rule about working with any and all Hispanic media and it is no different with Hispanic bloggers.

Some of the top Latino bloggers are former journalists with little tolerance for this mistake but even those who weren’t journalists share the same mindset.

“Read our content before you call us,” says Ariel Coro, publisher of the technology for Latino newbies web site TuTecnologia.com and a nationally syndicated tech journalist. “Know what we talk about and how we talk about it. I get tons of generic emails from PR pros who don’t know what we do and it makes me upset because they waste my time with irrelevant content.”

In that same context, some bloggers say that it helps when people personalize their pitch. Many bloggers are also fond of adding any existing product videos to accompany the stories they will post for product-specific stories.

CONTACT THE BLOGGER BEFORE SUBMITTING

Most Hispanic bloggers accept products or services for review. The big rule of thumb is to not submit a product for review without first speaking with the blogger. They generally don’t want to review products or services that they may not like, a fact that works in marketers’ favor.

DON’T ASK BLOGGERS TO REVIEW SOMETHING THEY CAN’T KEEP

Given that bloggers rarely get paid to review products, don’t bother sending them a product they can’t keep. “Our time is worth money so many times the items that we review are the only compensation we get for our time,” said mommy blogger Roraima Lassanske of the hip, Spanish-language site Mamå Contemporånea.

Car reviews, vacation packages and other items that are either intangible or ultra high luxury are a few of the exceptions to the keep it rule. (Per FCC rules, anytime a blogger accepts any gift from any company they must fully disclose it online).

DON’T BE PUSHY

Contact bloggers about working with you but don’t harass them because in most cases this is NOT their job. Most Latino bloggers don’t get paid so they don’t want to feel like they are getting paid unless they are.

KEEP YOUR PITCH SIMPLE AND DIRECT

Some bloggers complain about being pitched by marketers who are not only clueless about who they are but also what exactly it is they want from them.

“They have these convoluted pitches and sometimes are not direct about what it is that they really want,” says Lassanske. “Be direct and be honest about what it is you really want.”

BLOGGERS PREFER FINANCIAL COMPENSATION

Most bloggers understand that part of why marketers reach out to them is to get their endorsements in return for products or services. Although that’s a universal fact about blogging it doesn’t mean bloggers aren’t being creative about getting money from marketers.

In order to better monetize their blogs some bloggers sell sponsored posts, ad sponsorships as well as host product giveaways and even serve in some cases as product ambassadors and/or spokespersons.

The cost for working with Latino bloggers varies greatly from blogger to blogger but the principle is that bloggers want brands to consider partnering with them with cash and not just products.

“When I get paid, I don’t just post a story on the blog, I also promote everything on Twitter, Facebook and my other forums,” says Lassanske. Some Latino bloggers like Coro argue that when given the opportunity they can even serve as an extension of the marketing teams that contract them.

FOLLOW UP WITH GIVEAWAYS

A couple of Latino bloggers say they are more careful than ever about doing giveaways because they have had instances where marketers used them to promote a giveaway and then those marketers never rewarded the winners.

“It’s happened to me twice with toys,” said one blogger who did not want to be identified. “It’s really embarrassing to leave your readers hanging like that so I’m more careful now.”

PERSONALIZE AND PITCH PRODUCTS/SERVICE THAT ALREADY EXIST

The final tips are all about personalizing the pitch. Bloggers typically want to be addressed personally and want to be pitched with content that is conversational in style.

Some Latino bloggers also say that marketers should not expect them to blog about products or services that are not already in the market. Several mami bloggers for example have done preview stories about products that are either not in the market or never made it to market.

“It’s not a good situation to have your readers asking you where you can buy something and you have nothing to show for it,” said Lassanske. “I’ve done that and it leaves your audience frustrated because they wonder why you got them excited about something they can’t have.”