Social Media Diversity
Is your social media presence culturally diverse? Are you sure? It’s a simple enough question but one which only the smallest segment of small business owners have ever stopped to think about…much less put into practice. Of perhaps even more importance, when asked whether or not their business appeals equally to all racial, religious and/or cultural segments of the community served, the majority of small business owners immediately answer in the affirmative. Yet research repeatedly demonstrates a major disconnect between small business perception and actual client response rates. As a major social media management firm, part of our success is the ability to reach those consumers which traditional small business owners find difficult including different ethnic and cultural groups, gender and other diverse populations. Today we are going to cover some of the essential elements to consider when evaluating the social diversity of a small business site.
1. Gender – Without a doubt, one of the most apparent mistakes made by many business owners is failure to integrate gender differences into their social media communications and marketing strategies. Even male dominated products or services must remain diligent in their ability to target women as well as men or risk lost sales! Why? Consider this surprising statistic…nearly half of all men’s products were actually purchased by women including clothing, cologne, grooming items etc.. Research has found that women were the primary decision-makers when it came to other big ticket items including everything from automobiles to housing.
2. Cultural Diversity – This is a particularly tough area in part, due to the changing nature of cultural norms. Take the Latino population as an example; this widely diverse group includes an astonishing level of diversity and complexity including different levels of bilingual ability, duo cultural affiliations, religion and much more. In fact, recent research indicates the new norm is “bi-cultural” in which the Latino population identifies with two distinct but equally important cultural norms rather than one. With over 97 percent of online Latino’s embracing the use of social media, few retailers can afford to ignore this growing trend.
3. Race – Think back to the early days of television; chances are you will have a few favorite shows that come to mind and the overwhelming majority of actors/actresses were…well, white Caucasian. In fact, you could take it one step farther…the majority were probably WASP’s (white anglo-saxon protestants). Surprising as it may seem, very few people in major media or the general public noticed a problem. It wasn’t until the beginning of the Civil Rights movement and media coverage of culturally diverse issues that another side of the story began to emerge; come to find out, minorities from many walks of life had noticed the absence of racially diverse actors/actresses all along! The same applies to many social media sites today. Simple things such as uploading racially diverse photograph or other elements can go a long way toward creating a welcoming presence to all segments of the client population. The key is to increase awareness and sensitivity to diversity in the use of social media.
But What About Content?
It’s a great question and one which has receive very little attention even among many social media management firms. But one segment of business is taking notice – Fortune 500 companies! Major corporations are scrambling to move beyond the mere mention of culturally diverse topics or socially integrated visual elements and instead, concentrate on the creation of meaningful content. No, it’s not out of the goodness of their heart nor any specific philosophical orientation but rather a bottom line approach to capturing profits in what is one of the most rapidly emerging markets in the world!
How big is big? Consider this – the “Latino Nation” here in the USA alone represents well over $1 Trillion in purchasing potential – larger than that of Russia or Mexico! Yet minimal content is available even to those savvy corporations attempting to enter the market. The reason for this glaring oversight? Hard to say for sure but in part, political and philosophical concerns create a less than inviting environment. Despite these challenges, the demand for profits is creating strong demand for quality content in both English and Spanish able to meet the needs and interests of this purchasing cohort.
Not About Language – It’s About Values
One of the biggest mistakes novice business owners make is the belief that it is about language..it’s not. It’s about values. Consider this, a significant percentage of the Hispanic and/or Latino population are native English speakers with many more being fully bilingual. For instance, the island of Puerto Rico (US citizens from birth due to the special relationship with the mainland) has roughly 4 million citizen on the island and another 4 to 5 million on the mainland USA; clearly a prime example of a dual culture but also a prime case study on how social media, SEO and other online behavior can benefit from cultural integration. For example, search behavior indicates both Spanish and English are used for search with little preference for “Spanish only” channels. Multicultural marketing must understand the mindset behind the values, purchasing decision and culture in order to succeed.