2 min Read
February 22, 2011

Reaching a Spanish

Big Duck

Did you know that smartphone use among the Hispanic community is growing faster than among the general population? Or that Hispanics are more likely than other mobile users to use their cell phone for social networking? You did? Oh.

Well I didn’t know either of those things until I learned them from Beverly Robertson, National Director of the March of Dimes’s Pregnancy & Newborn Health Education Center, at 501TechNYC last Wednesday.

@nacersano—one of the March of Dimes’s Spanish–language Twitter accounts

Beverly gave a great presentation about how she and her team at March of Dimes have used the web and social media to reach out to women in the Spanish–speaking community. By 2050, the number of Hispanic women of childbearing age is expected to increase 92 percent, so over the last 15 years the March of Dimes has been committed to including the Hispanic community in its mission to help women have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. With the Hispanic online population growing faster than any other online population, the web and social media are increasingly important ways to reach the community.

Throughout Beverly’s presentation, my fellow attendees asked lots of good questions, making for an interesting discussion.

Here are some of the key takeaways I, er, took away from it all:

  • The Hispanic community is the fastest–growing minority group in the United States, making it an increasingly large and important audience for many nonprofits.
  • As the stats at the beginning of this post suggest, mobile communication (through text messaging and mobile internet access) can be key when reaching out to the Hispanic community. Many Hispanics are bypassing laptop and desktop computers and accessing the web directly from their smartphones and other mobile devices (iPads, iPods, e-readers and all that jazz).
  • As with the rest of the population, Twitter isn’t all that popular within the Hispanic community—only 11.3 percent of the online Hispanic population uses the service (in part, Beverly suggested, because communicating in 140 characters or less is even harder in Spanish).
  • When it comes to writing content in Spanish, it may not be enough to translate what you have in English directly into Spanish. To really resonate with your audience, your blog (or Facebook page, or Twitter feed, or YouTube video) needs to be culturally appropriate as well as language appropriate. For their Spanish–language website for pregnancy and newborn information, for example, the March of Dimes used a team of Hispanic designers and writers to build a very different site from the English–language version.

Beverly will be giving a more in–depth version of the presentation as part of the Engaging Latinos Online breakout session at next month’s Nonprofit Technology Conference. If you’re going, I think it’ll be well worth checking out.

And if you’re interested in seeing what else the March of Dimes is doing with social media, here’s a quick rundown for you:

Were you there last Wednesday? Anything you think I missed? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments.