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Ask the Expert: Listening to social media conversations in Spanish



More and more social media conversations are taking place in Spanish all around the world. To illustrate this point, Social Media Spanish says that there are 13.5 million US Hispanics on Facebook. Of that amount:

  • 4.2 million prefer communicating in Spanish
  • 5.9 million of them prefer English on Facebook
  • 3.4 million are using both languages

To gain further insight into this trend, Marketwire’s Emerging Markets Division reached out to Fernando Basto, a fellow Colombian who is an international conference speaker and consultant on e-marketing, e-business, e-commerce. Here’s what he had to say about social media and how the Spanish-speaking community is using it:

What are some of the trends in Latin American countries that Spanish-speaking communicators should be aware of?

Without a doubt, we are experiencing a boom in the use of social networks.  Almost in all the agendas for marketing campaigns, there is at least a desire to understand and use networks like Facebook or fast communication tools like Twitter.  Nonetheless, there is deep divide between wanting and doing.  While there are many websites showcasing their Facebook page or “follow me” button on Twitter and other networks, there are many that don’t know what to do with the thousands of current followers or how to convert fans into real clients.

What is your best advice for a company wanting to penetrate the Latin American market and pitch local journalists?

The top priority is to know the regional culture, the local use of the Web and the penetration of the Internet in the region, because not all the countries have the same levels of use.  In the field of journalism, it’s safe to say that the Internet is the leading communication tool.  In some industries, there is much to learn about the tools available and about the dissemination of news.  For example, there are many communication professionals that are not familiar with tools such as RSS feeds, and they are missing out on opportunities to stay updated in a fast and efficient manner.

What are some tips for improving ROI for your communications dollar?

First, you must always have a clear idea of the final communication objective, whether it is to create the brand, position it in the market or support the commercial management of the company.  Having a clear goal for each communication action is vital to define short- through long-term indicators.  The second thing would be to design and measure indicators that shed light on the results that the communication is having.  For example, an organization can send constant news releases for a month about its new products, emphasizing quality, price and innovation.  Afterwards, it’s necessary to measure how those releases affected sales, changed consumer perception, or triggered social media conversations.

How do you see Latin America’s social media landscape evolving in the next few years?

I believe Latin America will experience significant growth in the coming years, especially since there is much ground to gain. But, at the same time, there are several countries with the sufficient technology to face these challenges now.

Basto is the owner of BusinessCol.com and general director of Internetiz@ndo, which specializes in electronic marketing consulting.  He is an adjunct professor at several leading universities in Colombia, including Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Universidad Externado, Universidad Sergio Arboleda, and Universidad El Bosque, teaching undergraduate and post-graduate courses in social media, SEO and social network. Basto is also a consultant for the Bogota Chamber of Commerce.

In social media channels, do you communicate in Spanish because you feel more comfortable using it or because you want to better understand the audience that you’re engaging with? How do you measure and analyze social media conversations in Spanish?

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  • http://www.expion.com EricaMcClenny

    What software tools are you seeing to help manage social media in Spanish?

  • Ana_maria_garzon

    Very interesting article. This give me a lot of information to be aware of. Actually I am running a business in latin america and I see I must use social networks to promote it.

  • Yfernandez

    Excellent article!

  • Diego Barbosa

    Excellent article… That Shows We can to generate revenue with Social Media Marleting… I hope I can keep finding this kind of articles.

  • Alexandra Isaza

    Great post. Thank you Fernando for giving us a wider landscape of how is Social Media evolving in Latin America. We are a huge potential market for these kind of social interaction, srategies and tactics as we become a priority for most of the major social networks online.

  • Dimarti Ing

    That good news, it’s a really interesting topic and in which we immerse ourselves more and more, each of the points are taken into account in this article and affirm the importance of using social networks and how they become an advantage when making a real e-marketing strategy, “this is the demand of present and future”, excellent.

  • Lisha Ramos

    Great information for anyone looking to be successful using social media as well as realizing what a huge market the Spanish speaking community is.

  • Diego A

    the social network could be a powerfull tool for latin american companies, the big companies got it and its working very well for them but now its time for us, the spanish speakers, we must to upgrade our companies to the next step using electronic marketing and social media as principal strategy

  • Tamara Jacobsen

    Very informative topic on Social Networking. Both having studied here in Colombia, and in the United States, I have been able to see first hand how it is starting to shape how we communicate, and how both companies and businesses are able to expand their consumer base with such a larger obtainable audience. I must say that although the U.S. might have had a head start on this road, we are definitely incorporating it into our schools, curriculum and way of life. In no time, the whole world will seem like a very small and accessible place.

  • Marcelafino93

    it is definitely an interesting article, which referred to the communication in these days through social networking, in this case the article said that 4,2 of poople prefer communicate in spanish, 5,9 in english and 3,4 in both languages, so that the majority of users feel more confident using their own language, at the same time understading the kind of maket that they can find.

    on the other hand, Fernando Basto suggested to the companiesw, if they wish to penetrate into the Latin American market, for me it very importat these point of view, this it is primordial having an clearly idea, and an objetctive; to attempt to have results through the analysis of variables such as custumers needs and perceptions. Nonetheless, Latin American in the nest years will suffer a huge growth with the appropietate using of these tools such Facebook and twitter, which will face a new goals and good profits.

    to conclude, i belived what Fernando Basto said is truly important, because can understand and communicate in its own language it is much better to trasmit clar and appropiate ideas.

    Aileen M F

  • Marcela Angarita

    Actually, I think that tools like social networking are part of globalization and relations between different cultures around the world and languages, especially English, Spanish and Portuguese in Latin America; twitter for example, allows a kind of communication between these languages in an way easy and completely understandable, because many people have the ability to “to tweet” in both languages, either by knowledge or by translation, allowing shorter distances between users in different geographical areas.

  • lorena

    In the world the social networks are frequently used, Facebook and twitter are the more famous. The Spanish language to the Latin Americans is more easy of use because is your native language, but the communication in English language is more used to international level, so we can understand than is important learn two or more language to achieve a good communication with all the possible clients. If the web site is directed to the market Latin American must be in Spanish, if is the market U.S and other countries than speak language different the Spanish the web site must be in English language or the than will appropriate to use.

  • Juliana Gonz

    Las Redes Sociales, han servido tanto para ser negocios, compras, relaci

  • Juan David P

    This article is very interesting because it allows us to analyze how social networks in Latin America are a good way to get to know and more so for companies that aim to reach your most important client “people”, in the same way we gives a council on how we can be successful in network with several major investment tips and part recognition is crucial for growth companies.

  • Diegomarquez

    Today, the Internet has become one of the most important business tools in the world. An entrepreneur who is making your business plan should include the Internet as one means to do this business, because through this will attract many potential customers who daily use this medium. Social networks are playing a very important factor, since in these networks are key potential customers of the internet, therefore we must learn to use this medium effectively.

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