Brands focus on social media to target multicultural groups

Kodak recently launched its first all-digital marketing initiative geared toward a multicultural consumer group.

Kodak recently launched its first all-digital marketing initiative geared toward a multicultural consumer group. Teaming with Yahoo en EspaƱol, "Muestra Tu Herencia" (Show Your Heritage) was designed to encourage Hispanic consumers to share photos online that display their heritage. Kodak created an online mosaic of the images and for each one uploaded, donated $2 to the Hispanic College Fund.

"We're trying to get the US Hispanic consumer to not only honor their family and friends, but showcase the cultural beauty of the Latin community," says Vincent Young, the company's director of brand marketing for the Americas. "Digital seemed to be the perfect platform to do that."

Kodak also promoted the effort, which debuted in September as part of Hispanic Heritage Month, through KodakGallery.com and its A Thousand Words blog, as well as Twitter and a revamped Facebook presence.

A growing audience
A recent study from the Florida State University Center for Hispanic Marketing Communications found that 36% of English-preferring Hispanics visit social networking sites at least two or three times a month. Asian consumers were at 34%, followed by Spanish-preferring Hispanics at 27%, blacks at 26%, and non-Hispanic whites at 18%.

Manny Ruiz, president of PR Newswire's multicultural services and co-publisher of the Hispanic PR Blog, says multicultural consumers' use of social media has risen as the cost of entry - both for the technology and Web access - has gone down.

"If a computer is lacking at home, there is a mobile device being actively used for text messaging and Twitter," he explains. But many corporations and brands are not leveraging the increasing digital usage, or the fact that multicultural consumers generally over-index in technology usage, in their outreach, he adds.

"Clients have not caught up," says Wade Guang, VP and MD of InterTrend Communications, which focuses on Asian-American marketing. "They're still trying to figure out the general market. Until they do, I don't think they are committing to providing the online service consumers need."

Part of a program
Though Kodak has unveiled an all-digital effort, a majority of companies are working to include digital and social media as just one aspect of overall programs.

State Farm is more controlled with its digital and social media outreach, even in the multicultural space, says Karen Noel, marketing manager for the company.

"We're a conservative company, so we need to be on sites where it's not user-generated," she says. "People on social networking sites are not really in the mindset to get an auto quote. We continue to monitor it, test things out."

State Farm worked with InterTrend over the summer on Asian-American outreach, including online video contests through social media. To reach Hispanics, the insurance company partnered with Univision on Web novelas that feature its messaging of being there for friends and family.

For the black community, State Farm has "The 50 Million Pound Challenge," with fitness expert Dr. Ian Smith. For this, the company uses a Web site and blogs to build a community online.

Though more common now, social media efforts targeting multicultural audiences still must overcome two hurdles, says Ruiz.

"Social media for many companies is still very much a young endeavor," he notes. "When you combine taking baby steps in social media with equal baby steps you might be taking in multicultural, it means you are being even more cautious as you go in."

Social media in multicultural campaigns

Brisas Hotels & Resorts
Mexican chain held a bilingual contest on Facebook. US Latinas posted about what friendship meant to them for a chance at a "Girlfriend Getaway" trip

American Honda Motor
Working with Flowers Communications Group, it teamed with MySpace to promote the annual Battle of the Bands for marching bands from Historically Black Col- leges and Universities

JCPenney
Worked with InterTrend to tout an LA community concert for Asian Americans. Consumers could submit YouTube videos for a chance to be the JCPenney School and Style Breakout Performer

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