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?