Online Interactive Marketing

The Future of Social Media Has Already Been Written…

Posted on April 20, 2009. Filed under: Online Interactive Marketing | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The Future of Social Media Has Already Been Written…by Charlene Li and other Forrester Social Media Industry Researchers a year ago in fact.

No its actually not that anti-climatic, but as corny as it sounds: the future is now, or at least that’s what it seems if you go back to March of 2008 and read what was presented by Charlene Li (Twitter Profile/Blog). Charlene Li is to the Social Media Industry what Felipe Korzenny is to Hispanic Marketing. Over a year ago the culmination her research at Forrester allowed her the insight to predict the Future of Social Networks one year before Facebook or MySpace could even begin to tread its waters. The relevant insight she provided a year ago is definitely shaping the current events of the last several weeks.

The two most undeniable are outlined below:

Universal Identity

  • Federation (OpenID approach)
  • A few major players will serve as major federation focal points
    • Yahoo!, Microsoft, Google, Plaxo (Now a partner in MySpace’s MySpaceID Project), etc.
  • All players must realize that they can grow the market faster/better by working together
    • Data Portability Group is the beginning

Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web

‘We publicly assert that all users of the social web are entitled to certain fundamental rights, specifically:

  • Ownership of their own personal information, including:
    • their own profile data
    • the list of people they are connected to
    • the activity stream of content they create;
  • Control of whether and how such personal information is shared with others; and
  • Freedom to grant persistent access to their personal information to trusted external sites.’”

Both MySpace and Facebook are beginning to compete as the dominant provider of what will conceivably be widely used Universal Identity profiles. Most recently as part of an all out attempt to regain momentum MySpace has implemented a MyspaceID feature to allow the MySpace fans of artists or celebrities to share user profile information with other networks where that same artist also has a following. Besides providing greater functionality to MySpace’s edge in the online music community, this could restart MySpace’s stagnant web traffic. As a social utility, Facebook seemed to have this in its sights for quite some time. Facebook’s steps toward this started with Beacon in 2007, and after an onslaught of privacy complaints, Facebook re-attempted with Connect in 2008. Connect allows a user to voluntarily provide their information to websites they visit to retrieve information about their network in order to provide users with recommendations or information based upon what that user’s Facebook friend’s have purchased, written a review, etc. Previously, if you were logged into Facebook and visited an affiliate’s website, Beacon cookies would alert Facebook to automatically publish an update that a user could approve and publish as a profile update.

The difference between the two Facebook ID models is important and embodied by the Bill of Right Users of Social Web. Connect requires a user to opt-in, while Beacon did not and only after the fact did its surveillance reveal itself. Connect allows a user to define which websites can retrieve information and what ancillary profile information that website can access. The first major partnership that Facebook Connect has cemented is with Netflix.com to be able to post ratings, reviews and other information of its users through Facebook Stream (Facebook’s new Twitter-like status homepage). Another important step toward Universal ID is that the privacy that has encouraged Facebook users to share their lives on the social is now optional. Facebook now allows users to open up their profiles to the entire social network, but not search engines. Another facet of Facebook’s evolution is the voting taking place from April 16th to 23rd on the new Terms of Service (TOS) inspired by the response collected during the 30-day public comment period that Facebook implemented to address the backlash from its previously infringing TOS. If that weren’t enough Facebook’s about-face on its TOS was followed by the installation of a senior attorney from the ACLU as the new Facebook Director of Public Policy to help consider the privacy of its users as it matures.

Now this year from a SXSW-based pulpit, Charlene Li gave a more concrete picture of the functionality that will be provided by the Future of Social Networks (2009) based on her work at her independent consultancy: the Altimeter Group. However beyond the functionality provided by the future of social networks, the social media industry at large is increasingly being demanded to mature into the revenue-producing businesses that mass consumer marketers would like to tap.

TMMR

Concise Industry Coverage

My next post will explain how Facebook is currently positioned to surprise the social media skeptics with an advertising revenue model that will revolutionize social network advertising.

Note: I’m trying something new. In order to produce more digestible posts, I am separating what I would publish as part of one blog post into several smaller editions. I hope you appreciate this shorter format. I would greatly appreciate and welcome any feedback!

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Twitter Accomplished What Facebook Couldn’t

Posted on March 22, 2009. Filed under: Market Research, Online Interactive Marketing | Tags: , , , , , , |

My previous post explained the early competitive edge that Facebook enjoyed against MySpace. The examples that where explored began to establish just a few principles of the foundation required of successful online social network:

-A homepage focused on encouraging greater social interaction

-Facilitating ways to meet new people that still respect privacy

-Providing ways for real-world social ties (Geography, Organizations, Work) to manifest in group activity

SOCIAL NETWORK SUCCESS is An Empowered Online Community. But Is It Also A Double-Edged Sword?

All of this has translated into the successful fomentation of an empowered online community that takes ownership of the network because their lives are portrayed on it. Mark Zuckerberg has publicly acknowledged the that “one of the things that makes Facebook really special is [that] it’s a service that people are using to put up information that they want to share with people that often is very personal, private, intimate.” The latest retraction of the Facebook Terms of Service (TOS) agreement is part of their continuing realization that any attempt to use the profile information that wets the appetite of every online marketer needs to be done with full transparency and a respect for privacy. At the crux of the TOS agreement misstep is the growing contention between the expectations from online marketers for Facebook to monetize its network and Facebook’s better judgment. I’ll explain what I mean by Facebook’s better judgment a little later, first let’s explore the argument for monetization. The combination of demographic and psychographic information to which Facebook is privileged makes that network an ideal application for behavioral targeting (BT) methods.

In fact, recent research findings revealed a slightly increased acceptance of this more invasive online advertising practice if the marketer/brand/website is “more open, honest and transparent about where, when and how behavioral targeting is used.” When this is considered in the context of the upsetting click through rate (CTR) average for online display advertising on social networks, one can understand that the future of greater social network advertising depends on bridging the disconnect between advertisers and social networks. Most agree that bridge is behavioral targeting.

One of the companies that understand this better and before than most is San Francisco based Peanut Labs, a market research firm that has developed an online social network sampling methodology to target specific demographics. They believe Facebook Connect has the potential become a social network advertising game-changer if a marketer implements specific behavioral targeting marketing practices. An example provided by them sites the affect of BT upon the average advertising click-through rate of 0.01 – 0.1% would multiply CTR by between 3-10 times if just one social network contact clicked on the product advertisement presented to them after someone in their network was identified as a recent purchaser of that product. All of this sounds great for the prospects of Facebook advertising, but let’s look at other edge of the sword.

I believe it’s becoming more apparent to Facebook that its network is too personal real-world relationship-based for it to be used as a marketing platform for big name brands to successfully mass consumer market themselves on the Facebook channel. Nike’s Facebook page has over 1.3 million fans, but what does that mean now, two months after their campaign got their fans’ attention? They haven’t posted anything since January 8th, so it’s hard to tell. Simply put, the kind of online corporate or commercial brand relationship with which consumers comfortably identify typically does not fit within the current Facebook social interaction/utility  model.

The main reason behind this is due to the a growing realization that online activity and personal identity as portrayed through Facebook, is not as amenable to a brand identity/affiliation that could be better facilitated on other platforms. Research from Facebook on their user communication statistics places the average number of reciprocal relationships maintained on the network to be at most 16 people; the high end average amongst the one-way communication is only 26 people. In the brick and mortar world this concept is referred to as the Dunbar number, a concept which suggests that the size of the human brain has a limited cognitive capacity for sustaining a real-world social network of 148 people. Both of these behavioral statistics suggests that average Facebook user’s attention may not have the bandwidth on Facebook to interact with a brand’s advertisements or Facebook profile even if BT is effectively implemented.

What Twitter Reinforces About Facebook

After a failed Twitter acquisition three months ago, the latest Facebook redesign of company pages alludes to some of the important lessons it probably already acknowledged before Nielsen Online reported upon Twitter’s incredible February user growth of 1,382%. The newly adopted Facebook Stream is a twitter-style real-time status update + news + conversation feed that will put another notch into Facebook’s social media marketing tool belt. It takes Facebook a step toward providing a more marketing-friend platform since now companies will have direct visibility on their fans’ homepages. This new development had already hit personal pages earlier this month, but within Facebook evolution, this added feature is only an upgraded version of the “mini-feed.” The only difference between the two is that previously the mini-feed wouldn’t allow comment/like/share options or provide you with real-time updates. Companies have not had enough time to plan and execute any Facebook Stream friendly social media campaigns that specifically harness the niches that exist on Facebook, but when compared alongside Twitter the differences are very interesting.pleitez-example

Facebook Stream will not change user behavior to emulate the kind of activity on Twitter because it is a “closed ecosystem [where one user is…] not exposed to as many different users and shared items as they are on Twitter or Friendfeed.” But it will make truly resonating media or messages much more visible within individual Facebook cohorts and communities than before. Obama has been credited with giving Twitter a de facto blessing for strategically using it to communicate with his grass roots movement throughout his campaign. Now a new politician within the same ideological current, Emmanuel Pleitez has begun to benefit from community niches that compose Facebook, because Facebook Stream gives these communities much more visibility to one another. Thus Facebook Stream has the relative potential to strengthen a brand’s existing following. Now that the marketing weaknesses and strengths of Facebook have been discussed, a review of Twitter’s unique success will reveal how this network differentiates itself within the social media universe.

Analytically Dissecting Twitter’s Impressive Surge

Twitter has a much better capacity for expanding that brand’s following; this is almost soley attributable to the search applications that allow for the real-time mining of the thought stream that comprises Twitter. If I had to define the real-world marketing equivalents of the concepts embodied by Twitter and Facebook, they would be company press releases and industry associations, respectively. Much more investment of marketing resources and definition is required of the latter than the former. Like industry associations, Facebook is  a arena dedicated to a specific niche where individuals, organizations and businesses can share ideas, news and other relevant information. Twitter however is a public electronic “soapbox” platform from which to individuals can send personal press releases about the most trivial aspects of their lives.  Although Google CEO berates Twitter as “poor-man’s email,” he has recognized that “Twitter’s success is wonderful, and I think it shows you that there are many, many new ways to reach and communicate, especially if you are willing to do so publicly.” At this point however, it is remains to be seen how the surge of new users will use Twitter. Let’s look at some important marketing case studies to see what interactive marketing lessons we can extract from them.

A “Micro” Analytical Example

Michael Arrington from TechCrunch has shared some valuable insight into their specific example of how the recent Twitter user surge has translated onto increased traffic for Techcrunch’s website. Below are a table and graph that present their number of followers and website traffic derived from tweeters at three critical growth stages:

A) “Organic” growth up until January,

B) When they were added to the “recommended” Twitter list presented to all new users

C) During the surge of new Tweeps subscribing to Twitter

twitter-techcrunch-traffic-table

It seems that at its current network size, an endorsement from Twitter did not result in much of gain for their website when tweeters have already vetted and supported it. Recently Jason Calacanis proposed Twitter to give him one of the recommend slots for an annual subscription of $125,000 on the belief that it would translate into gathering millions of followers and ultimately in one million or more a year in incremental revenue. The math upon which Calacanis is predicating his judgment hasn’t been completely explained, but the example presented by techcrunch.com only represents web traffic trends. It doesn’t take into account revenues that may result from lucrative consulting engagements. This does caution already popular web sites with revenues based upon their traffic to not expect a huge increase in web metrics derived from twitter if they already have a large following on that network.

twitter-techcrunch-traffic-trend-chart

The Twitter Macro-Picture

Who are these tweeters? twitter-demographic-information-chart

Currently our larger demographic understanding of the Twitter-sphere’s population is relatively basic. The most recent “post-surge” age demographics reported by Nielsen Online was the source for charts that detail the percentages and populations that compose the tweeters. The report explains that “the majority of people visit Twitter.com while at work, with 62 percent of the combo unique audience accessing the site from work only versus 35 percent that accessed it from home only. [… and in last year’s final quarter] there was an average of nearly 240 tweets per person.”

Most interestingly about the results of this that the demographic that lead the way for Facebook’s current dominance didn’t represent itself enough within Nielsen Online’s sample for it to be reported upon. The next post will delve deeper into this as part of the concluding lessons learned about social networks.twitter-age-demographic-pie-chart

To which internet sites does Twitter send its users? The dust from the exponentially growth on Twitter hasn’t revealed any single dominate trend, any particular internet sector or brick-and-mortar economic sector around which Twitter’s activity coalesces. The most discernable patterns to recently emerge have been reported Hitwise. Their latest report describes that the web traffic that Twitter generates tends to send its users to the following types of websites:

Search: Google (ranked as the top visited), Yahoo!, MSN & Twitter Search.

The most apparent trend is that 40% of its generated traffic benefits other social Networks (20% and media or entertainment sites (20%): Facebook, Twitpic, MySpace, Youtube & Flickr.

Hitwise also determined that in February 7.28% of the traffic it generated directed users to personal websites and blogs. In fact, so much Twitter traffic has been diverted to blogs that it has spurred some observers to ponder whether Twitter Search traffic is poised to eclipse Google Blog Search over the long term. Steve Rubel points out that “as of February, Twitter Search attracted 1.35 million users while Google Blog Search, which has been plagued by relevance issues, sits at 1.38 million users.” This is no small accomplishment. Considering that Twitter is no where near maturity as a network, this insight does have time to gain more traction. Most interestingly the type of internet sites that receive the least traffic, less than retail sales, are dating, business and finance websites.

Twitter’s Definitive Accomplishment

The combination of the information from Hitwise and Nielsen begins to construct an understanding that the people, the usage and personas developed on Twitter. There a disconnect between the corporate/business person at work that composes the majoirty population and the trends that represent the where twitter diverts traffic. What this alludes to is the emergence of what is considered the Brandividual, the dual persona that incorporates a business’s brand and their own personal brand in order to more completely engage on a web that’s become increasingly social and personal. The development of the public presentation of the combination of two different aspects has not been without its contention. However what is most significant is that this important marketing development between the world of business and personal online interaction has been propelled by Twitter and not Facebook, blogging or other social networks. Twitter does not have to become a heavily used mass consumer social network for it to maintain it’s relevance with the social media universe as the personalized business-orientated “press release” medium/channel. The innovators from the marketing and technology sectors that invested into developing the Twitter community from the very beginning will not stop tweeting any time soon. Facebook got the consumers to sign up in droves, but marketing potential inherit within Twitter will translate into the kind social network usage that directly connects businesses with their respective markets.

http://MultiMarketResearcher.com
Condensed Coverage of Multiple Markets

COMING UP NEXT:

– The Evolution/Future of Social Media

-Social Media Marketing Lessons Learned

-Transition to The Next Topic

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Social Media Networks: How Facebook Won

Posted on March 16, 2009. Filed under: Online Interactive Marketing | Tags: , , , , |

The previous two blog posts arrived at the conclusion that on average, minorities consume online social media and utilize social networks at levels above the general population. Terra.com was presented as the most promising social media platform to address the incredible opportunity to reach out to the E-Latin@. In general online social media marketing is yet to truly take the form that will cement its place within the online marketing mix tool box. Additionally the nature of information technology development and the relentless pace of the internet destine it to never stop evolving. What follows is what will not change: the first part of the lessons that form the foundation of successful social media marketing. During the last several weeks the news about the most recent developments amongst social networks has exploded. Let’s start there.

The News Media and the Social Media Kool-Aid

When Forbes recommends CEOs should Facebook and Twitter. you begin to understand that the recent media obsession with social networks is far reaching. As an owner of: a blog that comprehensively researches and reports on topics including social networks/media, a twitter account, an open networking linkedin.com account, a Facebook account and several ning.com network profiles, you may assume I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid too. This blogger is actually waiting to see what kind of social media marketing implementation becomes the standard adopted marketing practice for a reasonably successful company before, I call in my vote. Until then, the social media evangelism that is currently enjoying overexposure in the news media has much too live up to. This is not said with any cynicism, it is meant to allude to the fact that the proper implementation of a social media marketing campaign is something few companies are actually undertaking because the test of time has not vetted the best social media marketing practices.

Yet, without getting in over their heads, most companies could start to implement social media tools internally to support a corporate culture that values transparency, collaboration and innovation. The new lines of communication provided by social media are very powerful tools that can allow a company’s top leadership to communicate directly to all levels and empower all employees to contribute through more informal means. But that’s the easy part. Successful implementation of the more valuable and impactful interactive consumer/business social media marketing is much more involved, complicated and requires a long term commitment to allow this marketing strategy to pan out. That said, the best examples of online social media are the big three social networks: MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. The story of the development of these networks provides invaluable lessons about how successful online communities can be organically facilitated. Once a few principles are elaborated through the examples provided by these three ubiquitous online networks, solid social media marketing guidelines can be extrapolated to help guide long term planning and investment into this new and powerful marketing channel.

Assessing the latest Groundswell Quantification (without Twitter)

Maybe after reviewing the numbers below, one could begin to forgive the Media’s honeymooning with online social media and networks.

The latest report from Nielsen Wire is that:

-“Two-thirds of the world’s Internet population visit social networking or blogging sites,”

-This accounts “for almost 10% of all internet time,” and “that percentage is likely to grow as time spent on social network and blogging sites is growing MORE THAN THREE TIMES the rate of overall Internet growth.”

-Internationally, social networks now account for 1 in every 11 minutes of internet usage; interestingly the average in Brazil is 1 in every 4. (But looking into those statistics is a post in and of itself.)

-From December ‘07 to December ‘08 37.7 million new Facebook users aged 35 and above describes the demographic most responsible for the surge in social network subscriptions.

Reasons contributing to Facebook’s rapid growth:

– An organized and simple design

– Activity focus

– Privacy

– Broad appeal

– Architecture for applications, peer-to-peer activity influence, third-party developers have increased word-of-mouth and visitor engagement

NOTE: The first three reasons are critical to understanding later contentions within this post.

Those are more than enough numbers and findings; now let’s add some substance and understanding to these overwhelming statistics in order to explain the behavior depicted by recent shifts in online social network usage.

THE SOCIAL NETWORK COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE: The Loser, The Winner & The New Contender

Online social media/networks follow their own sociological conventions that are translated from the real world. A successful online social network should emulate as best as possible within their platform these conventions. The rivalry between MySpace, Facebook and the latest contender, Twitter, have created and re-created how these human behavioral concepts manifest on these networks throughout each network’s individual development. A review of the rapidly evolving competitive landscape of online social networks provides a fascinating case-study to understand how success can be achieved within social media marketing.

MySpace: The online real estate with looming devaluation

MySpace currently faces the combination of situations that do not bode well for its future as a leading social network. Besides being eclipsed by Facebook late last year in unique visitor count, its own growth seems to have reached an apex, top executive talent has announced it is leaving and an advertising deal with Google that comprises 40% of its revenues is subject to rumors of its retraction and reduction. Last year it and its holding company News Corp. both failed to reach earnings goals and this has overshadowed that fact that it generates the most revenues of any social network. A possible silver lining to MySpace’s current situation is its aggressive plans to expand upon its MySpace Music platform.

MySpace Music is currently 5 million songs, 100 million playlists and a history of almost one billion streams strong. It plans to develop tools to make it even easier for emerging artists post their media. This move will also be extended beyond its current domestic realm into international markets. MySpace Music’s most ambitious intentions are to encroach upon the oligopolistic concert ticketing market by intending to partner with TicketMaster and LiveNation. This multi-pronged plan to fill online spaces is not without competition. $99 music videos is a relatively new service supported by an infrastructural partnership with Verzion fiber-optic internet service (FiOS). $99 intends to provide emerging musicians with a financial accessible way of producing their own music videos and sponsoring the-making-of-music-videos media on their own viewing platform. This new service plans to undertake a social media marketing strategy that will use MySpace and amongst other networks to compete with the heightened MySpace Music initiative. How these two services will share this overlapping space is uncertain, but their competition is guaranteed.

A SUMMARY OF SUCCESS: Facebook’s Community Development and Empowerment

All of this begs the question: Where did MySpace go wrong? What can explain how Facebook was able to achieve its current dominate position? My answer premised upon the main differences between the online spaces created by MySpace and Facebook.

Homepage Layout

The most obvious difference between the two is their respective homepage layout organization and the resulting allocation of advertising. MySpace lack s the simple design and organization that prioritizes its major networking functions. In comparison to Facebook, the MySpace homepage detracts from a focus upon the communal activities provided through its network. On Facebook the homepage space is dedicated to incite its members to use the latest social application or invite others to play a game that leads to more community interaction; MySpace filled that space with advertisements. MySpace has a single Microsoft windows “tool bar menu” that provides the navigation to different applications, community forums and other social networking activities.

The Benefit of Facebook’s Collegiate Roots

MySpace’s networking concept also didn’t recognize the importance of real-world social ties, geographical affinity and the corresponding significance of privacy. The conflated results of this meant MySpace had chronic issues with spammer profiles and the virtual universe it created did not develop communities as organically as Facebook’s platform. Ultimately this difference is what defined Facebook from its early beginnings. Arguably MySpace communities developed more haphazardly because Facebook had the benefit of the university microcosm to help it develop and incorporate early-on the functionality that would result in facilitating online behaviors that foment online relationships.

Understanding the “Poke” & Privacy

At Facebook’s very beginnings the clearest example of this was the “poke.” Poking is meant to indicate a causal interest in interacting with someone that you might not even know or just met but haven’t gotten to know. This simple and almost meaningless expression of interest represents the level of consideration that Facebook has given to principles that translates real-world acquaintance-type circumstances to an online social network. Poking is an important first step in breaking the online privacy barriers between two unknown people and introducing yourself to another person’s online cognizance of your existence in their virtual universe. In short all it does is prompt someone to respond to the unsaid expression: “Hi, I am also on Facebook.” It also represents the subtle act of voluntarily admitting that you went out of your way to look them up. There is no “poke” equivalent on MySpace.

Instead MySpace new introductions happen out of the blue and more overtly. Worst yet, a loss of privacy and social network legitimacy has been deteriorated by chronic spammer profiles that can find any profile on MySpace. This simply does not occur on Facebook to any remotely close degree of incidence. It could be argued that since MySpace had intended on facilitating new friendships with people they didn’t know that this critique is not fair. It is important to note however, that instead of following a model that went above and beyond make new connections, over the long term MySpace found itself following in the footsteps of Facebook instead of pursuing innovations in developing new online relationships.

Communal Affinity

The most significant difference between the two is the greater communal affinity that exists on Facebook. The early manifestation of this social media element reached its pinnacle on Facebook through the proliferation of the most obscure and comical groups/causes/online associations. These kinds of groups exist on both networks now, but they were adopted first on Facebook. This communal activity of forming nonsensical groups begins to jeer at the very act of gathering around a cause for the sake of affiliating to the same sense of “collegiate” humor. The existence of these kinds of groups represents the degree to which early Facebook adopters claimed ownership of Facebook. This is the cornerstone of the social behaviors that drove Facebook growth and network ownership from the very beginning.

The Resulting Success

These differences explain the edge that Facebook has against MySpace in facilitating greater social interaction. The result of this greater social interaction is that Facebook represents the best example of a mass consumer online community that has taken hold of its network as their own. Facebook is the most complete online repository of relationships, personas, groups and other social activity; and this personal information is highly valued property upon which this online community has already taken claim.

http://MultiMarketResearcher.com

Concentrated Analysis

COMING UP NEXT:

-Facebook Community Ownership, Monetization of Facebook, The Two Latest Changes to Facebook and long term plan.

-The Latest Contender: Twitter, The Evolution/Future of Social Media, Social Media Marketing Lessons Learned

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The Market’s Reaction to the Socially Inclined E-Latino

Posted on February 28, 2009. Filed under: Hispanic Marketing, Market Research, Online Interactive Marketing | Tags: , , , , , , |

The last blog post ended by concluding that insightful marketers have already begun addressing the growing online opportunities to market to Hispanics. And in fact, reports from TNS on Hispanic online display advertising spending in the first ten months of 2008 measured a $47 million increase from all of 2007. Yet despite the $212 million spent during only the first 10 months of 2008, research findings from The Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies and the Advertising Research Foundation highlight a different understanding of those figures. A December ARF study press release contends that overall Hispanic advertising spending fell short of the “8 percent investment in the Latino market AHAA recommends marketers should be spending based on population and buying power of U.S. Hispanics alone.” However, before marketers are blamed for not directing enough of their budgets toward low hanging Hispanic opportunities, a concise review of the available actionable online Hispanic market information and online Hispanic media marketing channels could help explain why these opportunities to market to Hispanics were not pursued.

Until recently the allocation of that limited Hispanic marketing budget was not assisted by the knowledge of trends describing what Hispanics were doing online. According to a study performed by Adage, Hispanic internet usage exceeds the general population in the realms of instant messaging, audio/video media consumption, and social networking. Most recently, Dr. Felipe Korzenny bestowed upon the blogosphere the analysis that supports previous assertions about minorities leading the internet trends into social media. Throughout the incredibly enlightening data, the numbers show that English-preferring Hispanics’ usage of social networking sites lead if not shared the lead with Asians. Marketers should take special note that the difference in trends between the two Hispanic groups exhibits & alludes to much more than nuances in social media usage levels. Yet, before speaking to the differences amongst online Latinos, overarching marketing guidelines to address commonalities should first be articulated about Hispanics online. Few could define this better than Dr. Korzenny:

“Culturally, ethnic minorities tend to be drawn to collectivistic values and often look to one another to help guide decisions and opinions. In addition, ethnic minorities are more likely to leverage social networks to communicate with groups of family and friends who are geographically dispersed. Social media facilitates such collective sharing of information and communication.”

Although the data is focused on myspace and facebook, the extrapolation of these trends to other facets of social networks is supported by the existence of some “Hispanic internet-elite” social network groups. The most obvious of these exist on twitter and ning.com networks. Apart from very popular ning.com networks such as National Society of Hispanic Professionals, the existence of Hispanic social networks dedicated specifically to social networkers, namely sites like www.twitteros.ning.com, exhibits the degree of ethnic community sought after amongst online Latinos. Currently, these small and rapidly growing online enclaves have developed on Twitter through profiles like TopTwittLatinos and Blogadera. These groups assert a commitment beyond the normal linkedin.com, facebook.com or myspace.com groups. They’re based upon being social-network savvy Hispanics who are proud of their heritage and want an online dialogue. The kind of affiliation Latinos desire incorporates an online recognition for the adoption of the latest technology trends. The larger and consequentially more attractive National Society of Hispanic Professionals subgroups require a moderated admission or invite. This is not to say that these are not welcoming, that is actually far from the case because these groups actively seek each other online. This is just one example, but it is a very important one in light of the most recent research on ethnic online social media usage.

Beyond the umbrella understanding of Hispanic online social media engagement, marketing to the coveted Spanish language preferring niche must incorporate another layer of much more increasingly culture-specific targeted marketing. Basic guidelines for this arena are still being developed and uncovered by marketers, but SEOSAPIEN has begun to compose what amounts to clearly defined Hispanic search engine marketing guidelines to less acculturated Hispanics . The main points from one of his latest posts recommends:

-Personalized Content must consider both geographic U.S. location and original nationality

-Latinos will Google and Yahoo search for products they hear about offline and tend to seek and trust user generated content on those products, this alludes to the effectiveness of integrated Hispanic marketing campaigning. (I would highly recommend reading this previous link, it is extremely insightful)

-Depending on your marketing goals, Mobile media could play a huge part in your marketing campaign.

-Using general language to avoid offending any particular nationality is a smart move.

The importance of social media marketing, and an effective search marketing campaign now begins to give a more concrete notion of how to approach the Hispanic market through interactive marketing. However, a cornerstone of an attractive online market are highly visited online properties. A growing frustration of marketers interested in the U.S. Hispanic online market has been its limited online media channels. There have not been many websites that have attracted and sustained a Hispanic audience reaching a critical mass within particular market niches. If you contextualized this issue within the recent acknowledgments that most bilingual online Hispanics have no problem jumping between English and Spanish media, you may begin to understand the importance of measuring that Hispanic internet critical mass. This leaves marketers in dark about websites that could be receiving more advertising revenues for the Hispanic eyeballs on their sites. Some anticipate a rise in online advertising costs to reach this market. Although online media channels options are still relatively limited, strategy is not. A new benefactor of Dr. Korzenny’s valuable insight, the Captura Group, an Online Hispanic marketing group is probably one of the best versed in this kind of consulting. They have recognized the spectrum of challenges and opportunities when reaching out to the Hispanic online market . These include online sponsorship, content syndication, IP targeting, behavioral targeting and search partnerships. Although this point should not be underestimated these various strategic options now benefit from the fact that the top ten most visited websites for Spanish dominant E-Latinos have been identified. Seven of the coveted online properties listed below belong to Spanish, Mexican and Colombian internet media companies.

1. Weblogs SL Sites: Blog network with 30 sites based in Spain

2. Mundoanuncio: Classifieds site based in New York that serves Mexico, Argentina, and Guatemala

3. Adam4Adam.com: Gay men’s site

4. MercadoLibre: Auction site serving nearly every country in Latin America owned by eBay

5. ParaChatPro.com: Chat provider, based in California, that powers e-commerce sites and content sites like Univision.com

6. Musica.com: A music site based in Spain

7. Grupo Prisa: Owner of El Pais, based in Spain, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the world

8. IT&IS Siglo XXI: Network of four travel sites based in Spain

9. Grupo Salinas: Owner of TV Azteca properties, based in Mexico City, with a presence in the U.S.

10. El Tiempo: Newspaper based in Colombia

The diversity represented by the content of these top sites is striking; it underscores the point that niche targeting is imperative. Confronted with these newly emerging online Hispanic niches and subgroups enhances the competitive positioning of online social web portals as attractive and efficient marketing partners for limited Hispanic marketing budgets; enter the recently revamped Terra.com. At the end of January 2009, Terra.com announced $10 million dollars in investment that they have funneled into a complete renovation of their website and have dubbed it the: “Atom Project.” The Atom Project amounts to company-wide effort to redesigning their website with third generation social networking tools, fresh layouts and unprecedented content integration.” Terra has been around for about a decade, but these latest improvements put this website at the forefront of practicing and ultimately testing the combination of guidelines that should ensure success with online Hispanics. Will Terra.com be the next Hispanic –centered Facebook/Craigslist/Expedia/Youtube/Google News/TMZ in-one? The market will definitely take note to see if E-Latinos will validate this revamped property with their valued clicks. Regardless of that website’s success, the tools that are now provided to online marketers gives them little or no justification for not allocating more of their budgets into one of the most attractive U.S. consumer markets.

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The Market’s Recognition of Hispanics Online

Posted on February 22, 2009. Filed under: Hispanic Marketing, Market Research, Online Interactive Marketing | Tags: , , , , |

Few topics could provide a better first posting for this blog than the emergence of the E-Latino. This is the first of two posts that will provide a comprehensive review of the online conversation about Hispanics online and marketing to them. The evolution of online marketing has already begun incorporating the growing numbers of the online Hispanic market. Although various visionary voices have been heralding the growing importance of this online market, the latest research findings from Ipsos now support their contentions. Apart from the fact that the market is now realizing that US Hispanics are online in overwhelming force, what is interesting about the numbers documenting Hispanic interactive marketing is that when compared to the general population, studies have shown that Hispanics:

-are more receptive to mobile marketing since 6% interact with text-messaging campaigns versus 3% of general population. (According to Adage Survey)
-spend on average more time online than the US population. (According to SEOSAPIEN)

This amounts to supporting what the Godfather of Hispanic Marketing, Felipe Korzenny, contested before this study was released: “The fact is that Hispanics, along with other emerging minorities, are leading the technology revolution in this country.”

However, an important factor that the study conducted by Adage on mobile marketing points out is that the average age (27.6) of Hispanics within their study was 9 years younger than the population in general (36.6). So it may be due to the fact that the average Latino is younger, that this growing population’s will show up disproportionately as technology friendly. This still however does not justify why a younger generation would be more receptive to interactive media. When you start scrutinizing the online metrics for Latinos, you might start to understand why more actionable marketing data requires further targeted research. The discrepancies are most apparent in the measurement of the activity and numbers of in Spanish or Spanish dominant online users. Targeting this elusive and WOM-heavy demographic is a marketer’s dream, however this population has been known for their avoidance of surveys. Additionally there is a lack of appropriate measurement methodologies for a population that unevenly changes with new waves immigrants growing within various communities across the nation.

Unfortunately, it may not be until after the Census in 2010 that the true size and composition of the Hispanic market will be known. Although marketers have been alerted to this increasingly important market, the lack of up to date or accurate data is not a new issue. In order to address this issue, Hispanic media giant Telemundo has been preparing to educate its viewers with a year long media campaign starting in April aimed at creating greater awareness and Hispanic community involvement in the national census. Issues of trust, authenticity and confidentially pervade Hispanic’s perceptions of the Census. The League of United Latin American Citizens is acutely aware of these issues and is also organizing toward helping alleviate them. After these issues, the true magnitude of the Hispanic market maybe better measured by the census.

Another related factor that deserves consideration even after the census is taken is that most Latinos have already acculturated to consuming English-language media. This may be one of the reasons that Spanish-language internet media consumption has not registered as substantially as their population growth would suggest. In fact, the media consumption trends reported by Ipsos’s study provide greater marketing insight into areas previously left blank. This step toward better recognizing this group is important. But there still a great lack of actionable information on this valuable and untapped market. Regardless, the stage is set to divert resources toward the Hispanic Market, and the best positioned players to provide your online connection to this demographic already have their stakes planted and are waiting for your attention. That will be the topic of my next blog post on Hispanic Marketing.

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    Providing concentrated analysis of syndicated research on the intersection of Online Interactive Marketing, B2B Marketing/Market Trends, Brazilian Market Developments & U.S. Hispanic Consumer Marketing.

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