By Mike Periu
Latinos have a reputation for being socially oriented beings. We like parties, spending time with friends and maintaining tight bonds with our extended families. This offline tradition has found the perfect online home in social media applications and smart mobile devices with Internet access. As a community, Latinos are the undisputed champions of what the industry calls "engagement". This means that we tend to use heavily the social services and features that inexpensive broadband and powerful mobile devices facilitate to connect with others.
According to the Association for Hispanic Advertising Agencies, Latinos spend 29 minutes per day on average (which means that some of us spend much more) visiting social media websites, 52% more than the non-Latino population. 39% publish online reviews and leave comments on blogs versus 19% of the general population. As the total number of Latinos online surges from 32 million today to 42 million in 2015, there is one area where we do fall behind significantly: using these technologies for business profit. Rather than embracing them just as consumers, here are some strategies that Latino business owners can use to leverage new social and mobile technology for business growth:
Use Twitter to engage with your customers
Savvy small business owners have realized that Twitter can be a great way to connect with your customers on a daily basis. Restaurants can let diners follow them and then Tweet special menu items, last minute special discounts and other relevant information to local patrons. This type of marketing costs nothing and according to many restaurant owners can boost sales. Twitter doesn't just work with restaurants; any local, retail business can use it as a way to quickly connect with customers.
Sell more to existing customers via a social network virtual storefront
Leading social networking sites allow businesses and brands to place business profile pages similar to profile pages for people. Many consulting and technology companies offer innovative ways to turn these pages into virtual storefronts, similar to an ecommerce website residing directly in the social network. So far these storefronts haven't been very successful at generating sales from new customers, but they have been proven to work for selling more to existing customers. Ask your existing customers to signup, like or follow your company's social media page. When they do, use this as an opportunity to give them early access to new products, invitations to sales and other benefits that will make them feel they are being treated well. This will lead to more sales.
Use in-store mobile coupons to hold last minute sales of aging inventory
According to the Pew Research Center, 93% of Latinos own and use a mobile phone regularly. Recent advances in mobile technology allow businesses to send their customers electronic coupons via SMS. Some smart business owners ask customers to signup via a short code when they enter the store then send coupons to their phones while they are shopping. This technology is valuable for eliminating excess inventory or selling perishable goods before they lose all of their value.
Offer online services that cater to Latino consumers
Despite the huge surge in Latino consumer use of social media and mobile technologies, there are relatively few services that leverage these technologies with Latinos in mind. Given the scale of the Latino market online, there should be thousands of companies launching every year to target Latinos online and hundreds of millions of dollars in investment behind them. But this isn't the case. Maybe you can be the Latino equivalent of Mark Zuckerberg?
These strategies are currently being used profitably by millions of business across the country. But not enough of them are owned by Latinos. If as a Latino business owner your customers are also predominantly Latino, then you have tremendous insight into this market's needs and wants. Use this knowledge to position your company online. If you like spending time on social media services anyway, why not profit from it as well?