September 2, 2008, 12:00 AM

U.S. Hispanics are active online social networkers, Forrester says

69% of Hispanic consumers watch, read or listen to content created by others online vs. only 42% of U.S. counterparts.

U.S.-based Hispanic consumers are significantly more likely to participate in online social media than their non-Hispanic counterparts, making a social media strategy a must for any marketer wanting to reach this group online, according to a new report from Forrester Research Inc.

“Hispanic Social Technographics Revealed,” classifies 69% of 3,000 online Hispanics surveyed as Spectators, meaning that they watch, read or listen to what others have created online. That compares to 42% of non-Hispanics. “This is also the largest segment for non-Hispanic online adults, showing that this is where many consumers start their climb to more engaging levels of activity,” according to Forrester’s report.

At the highest level of online activity, 40% of Hspanics were characterized by Forrester as Creators, meaning that they take part in such online activities as blogging, publishing web pages and uploading audio and video. By comparison, only 12% of non-Hispanics online consumers participate in these activities.

Overall, Hispanic consumers taking part in some sort of online social activity make up 77% of online Hispanic adults. Forrester characterized this group as influential, reporting that on average 60% tell friends and family about products that interest them. In addition, more than 70% of all Hispanics surveyed said they stay with brands they like, suggesting that marketers who successfully build relationships with them now will have advocates for the long term.

Forrester notes that three aspects of Hispanic culture dispose Hispanics toward online social networking. For one, Hispanics are traditionally early adopters of entertainment technologies, which corresponds online to the use of video, audio and related social computing technologies such as blogging. Further, Hispanic culture emphasizes the group over the individual, making Hispanic consumers more likely to look to others to guide product choices, Forrester says.

Finally, according to Forrester, even though many U.S.-born Hispanic consumers prefer to use the Spanish language, many media publishers and marketers in the U.S. don`t offer this option. Social networking provides Hispanics with opportunities to fill that online gap by contributing their own Spanish-language content, Forrester says.

According to report author and Forrester analyst Tamara Barber, “Any company that touches online Hispanic consumers would be remiss not to include them in its social strategy. The focus should be on what technologies are a strategic fit and which social computing channels to use.”

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