030: Doing MAS with your Latino audience

Service icons_podcastMatt Addler, founder of MAS strategies, a marketing firm that helps nonprofits reach and speak to the right Latino market discusses why we need to think differently about this growing audience. Currently there are 53m Latinos in the U.S. according the last census numbers.

Matt explains that Google translate doesn’t cut it and that for a real outreach strategy you need to consider the nuances of the audience, language, and culture. Identify who you are or want to be talking to by region, age, culture and then design your communication plan.


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Episode 30


Speaker 1: This is using the whole Whale, a podcast that brings you stories of data and technology in the non- profit world.  This is  George Weiner, your host, the chief whaler at wholewhale.com. Thank you for joining us.  


speaker 1: hola bienvenidos, mi nombre es jorge. And that’s about all the Spanish that i have for  this episode. But i do believe that this is important. Currently there are  53 million Latinos in the United States, estados unidos.. Alright now i am done with the Spanish. There is so much to understand about the audience language and culture and how to approach them on social media. Today, we are talking with Matt Adler from a company called “Mass”. and his specialty is in understanding in reaching this market for organizations and i think there is a lot to learn here and i can’t  wait to jump into this conversation. [00:57 – 01:05- music] .


speaker 1:And I am thrilled to be here with Matt Adler, who is going to  take some time and explain to us a bit more about how we can think about the strategies that we employ to engage Latinos in the U.S and the Spanish speaking market in general . Matt, tell us who you are and what do you do?


Speaker 2: Sure. Thank you so much for having me on this podcast today. I am very excited. I am based out of the DC area. I do social media and communications in Spanish, English or both. I work primarily with non-profit sector in cause communications.


Speaker 1: I love it. And so, you must get this question a lot. But i will start off. Hey, we are a small organization , but we want to  reach the Latino market. How do we start Matt?


Speaker 2: Sure. the first thing they did right  it is that they decided to reach the Latino market. And i think often times organizations don’t even get there. So even though it seems like a daunting task after that, i think it’s actually great that they in the right path. Because if you look at some of the statistics, Latino population is very large and it’s growing fast. It’s projected to be about a third of the U.S POPULATION by 2060. So if you are not reaching out to the Latinos, in particular in the United States, you are not, you risk losing a third of the market by 2060. Once they decided that Okay, I want  to  reach out to this  population , I think the first step is to do some demographic research. Because say anyone reaching out to the Latino population is very, but you need to know who within that population to reach.


Speaker 1: So give me an idea about , 2015 has just kicked out , what is the current market size for the Latino community in the US?


Speaker 2: There are 53 million Latinos in the U.S today, which i think this  is a fascinating fact. It is more than the population of Spain, Columbia , Argentina and  Peru and is only behind Mexico.


Speaker 1: That’s crazy. holy cow.  So wait a minute. Alright, I have got my non-profit and the web guy tells me that the web site can be totally written in Spanish  if somebody goes there that can use Google Translate and the website turns to Spanish . Isn’t that enough? Doesn’t that cover how people will find it?


Speaker 2: Unfortunately some people really do  take that approach. And I actually have to deal with this with clients to emphasize that Google Translate is not how you should  translate your web site. it is great for looking up individual words sometimes and that google translate is not how one should translate. One client that i worked with tried to translate a press release from English to Spanish using Google Translate and then showed me the Spanish press release and i had to totally rewrite it. So Don’t use Google Translate. So what you should is this. So in my general approach, there are three key elements to reaching the key elements to reaching the Latino population. You need to talk about the audience, then Language then culture in that order. So before you get to the question of your website and how you translate and what context you use it, you need to define the audience. So if you are thinking about the Latino population in the United States, about two thirds of the community is of Mexican origin. But you also have significant minorities from other countries. so you have 9% from Puerto Ricans , 4% Salvadorans  the same amount for cuban and a little bit of Dominicans. And the reason i am bringing this example, even though Mexican American is kind of most of us associate with the Latino population in the United States, these other communities are very concentrated in certain areas. So for instance, you are based out of  New York.  you might have heard that Puerto Ricans and Dominicans are very much the basis for Latino community in New York. Like so Mexicans. I am in DC. There is a huge Salvadoran and almost there is no Mexican American. It’s a very very small community. So these are just a few examples. The thing is before you got the language on the web site you need to talk about who you are targeting because these folks speak Spanish in different ways and they use different terms.


Speaker 1: And so the initial trick is that… The misconception is that you all speak let’s  say English, you must all be  the same.  Wait a minute, if i approach that for English and define my audience just by language they happen to speak, we would be way off the mark especially as we started to expand globally. So it doesn’t surprise me that’s the case and i am glad to hear you that you define the audience, language, culture and the nuances of how you then approach messaging. And so your expertise is more around how we translate this to social aspects. Is that correct?


Speaker 2: Actually  my background is before i got into digital is within traditional media outreach as well as community, which i think is important because if you are doing digital communication with this population, you really need to understand the community. And so i have been out there on the streets , knocking on the doors . i have also been dabbling with Spanish language media. and so i think  that’s  a great way to prepare yourself to then dive in for the digital marketplace.


Speaker 1: And that’s great. Can you tell me obviously there is a language barrier here, how does the latino community in the U.S treat social media differently or there different nuances to online behavior that you are like, this won’t work if you just translate it directly across.


Speaker 2: I think it’s an excellent question. There are a few things. One is obviously language is a big deal when it comes to the social media and the Latino community. even though increasingly folks who are born in the U.S, second and third generation Latinos become more English dominant, 74% of the Latinos speak  Spanish at home. So that means if you are thinking of doing Latino outreach unless you are specifically targeting the younger market that’s born in the United States that’s more English dominant, Spanish is really crucial . So if you want to be reaching this community, by and large  you do need to consider using Spanish. And the other thing that’s particularly with regards to Social , Latinos use Social media more often and more actively than the rest of the population. You know they are at 68% of the U.S Latinos are on the Social media compared to 58% of the country as a whole. and that’s from a great source than just kind of refer to some place where you can get data. The pew center has a Hispanic center, the Pew Hispanic Center. It is fantastic. It has great data on Latino demography but also specifically about social media and digital use.


Speaker 1: I think it’s important to understand the audience once you have selected them. and i am surprised by the differences. so that sounds like some significant usage statistics at the very least. Can you give me an example of like an organization that you may have worked with and kind of bringing them from zero to 50 miles an hour and what the approach was.


Speaker 2: One organization that i worked with was Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. They are a vegan health organization. they have a special program , it’s an Email recipe program in Spanish, where it’s free to sign up and folks get recipe that are all Vegan in Spanish . It’s called vegtaniano en vente uno dias, which translates to Vegan in 21 days. And so this program already existed before i came on board. They were looking for ways to market at. And so one of the decision we made was that we are creating a Facebook page to help promote that program. And again coming back to the audience language culture piece, the audience, before was i was brought on board to publicize the program  was originally targeted at Mexican and Mexican Americans. But actually this has changed over time to become Spanish speakers in many different nations. So if you look and this is just a fabulous source of data since i know you love data, Facebook insights are great for this sort of stuff. The top five countries on the Facebook page that was created to promote this program are Mexico, Argentina, U.S, Spain and Chile. so just in the top 5 countries you are covering three times on that. So it’s really grown. That shows how the audience can change over time and what’s so fascinating about this, we don’t see this so much in English , but Spanish is part of a very similar large family where you have folks speak Portuguese  in particular or French Catalan , Romanian even where the languages are very similar , they can understand a lot of content. So even though they were not part of the target audience, over 10,000 of our fans on Facebook speak Portuguese. So we are actually growing the audience to be really multinational and multilingual, but still sticking to the original program. But you know one thing is Language has to be adjusted. Right, originally with the Mexican and Mexican American audience, just to give an example, Fracas is the most commonly used Spanish word for Strawberries. But since now Argentina is such as important part of our audience, we would also include Fratigas in parenthesis, because that’s what it is called in Argentina. So our languages have to reflect the audience, since that changed whenever we are posting on social media, we try to be more inclusive so that as many as possible understand what we are talking about


Speaker 1: So i have got a question, just to jump in here. You walked in and they probably had an existing English Facebook  page. Did you just suddenly start adding multilingual posts or did you create a whole  different section targeted at Spanish Speakers.


Speaker 2: Completely different Facebook page, all in Spanish. I think that’s different. It depends on our audience. Our audience ended up being very Spanish dominant. And again if you are reaching that second and third generation which is English dominant even might utilize Spanglish that’s a different question. You might be able to pull off a bilingual approach. But with this audience which is Spanish dominant and i think that’s important because you know ultimately we wanted to give them their own sense of community and their own ability to communicate with ease and when they see that their language is being used, their mother tongue is being used , people feel more at ease. and they feel more willing to share. and if you think about what it’s like to be vegan, i am not personally vegan but i think i can understand. It’s pretty challenging it’s a tough diet. it’s much more challenging in Latin America and Spain than it is here. so for these people as a real community and if they didn’t feel that they could share in their own language with each other not such on post then i think  it would be problematic. Then it depends on the organization , what makes sense for you. But in our case it made sense to have a separate Spanish page. And actually it’s got completely unique content. It’s almost never overlapping with the English Page. [13:12 – 13:37 -music]


Speaker 1: And so what happened in your quest to kill queso. How did the page perform?


Speaker 2: It was fantastic. It started with, before i started managing, there were about 800 likes on the page. and today about two years, we’re at about 325,000. It’s just really taken off. And I think part of that is our content and a part of that is also the community that we have chosen to target. You know Spanish speaking Vegan is  a very niche market.  And when you think about it, that might be a challenge but it may be an opportunity  because these folks like i was saying don’t really have the resources. if you think about a city like  San Francisco New York or a DC  there are lots of resources for the vegan community. But if you are in Latin America or even in  predominantly Latino areas of the United States, it’s pretty rough. And so i think it’s about tapping into the real need that this people had.


Speaker 1: That’s fantastic. Just one more time. Can you just give us the name of the organization and how our audience might be able to find that one that Facebook page so that they can see how you had done this.


Speaker 2: The organization is Physician’s  committee for responsible management,  PCRM.  The Spanish Language  Facebook page is vegatariano , that’s like an vegetarian with an o at the end. en, vente une, the number 21, dias, days. So vegetarian in 21 days. you can find that on Facebook . If you are interested in trying the program you can also just  go to vegatarianoventeunedias.org. But it’s a fantastic program even if you are not a vegan. Got all the healthy recipes and all you know culturally appropriate.


Speaker 1: Alright. As we move to the end , i love sort of getting a larger sense, kind of your exploration as a starting business. and this question actually is, if you could go in a time machine and throw back the clock to the time when you started Mass, your company, what is some of the advice that you would be giving yourself as you waded into this market and your strategic approaches, what kind of advice would you be throwing the earlier one


Speaker 2: I think i would have put, I think i would have branded my business earlier. I started doing this work when i was in grad school of communications. and i enjoyed working with the client then. But i think it’s important , whether you are working with the Latino community or elsewhere that you have a brand that you represent and that means website and that means boosting your Linkedin profile your social media presence as a business. so I would have started it earlier. And i also would have, I would have done more networking like  we did at NTC at the non-profit technology conference. I think it’s important to meet other people in the field. As much i love digital and i am sure you too, it’s important to meet folks in person. And meet other people who are passionate about what they do because that will only lead the way both for your business and socially sometimes and some new opportunities.


Speaker 1: And i do love the Internet. But there is nothing like meeting somebody in person and really weirding them out..


Speaker 2: And then Cheap Margaretas..


Speaker 1: There is no substitute for that. The final thing i would love to get your advice on is Let’s say we have an organization mid level size in U.S and they are interested in reaching the Latino community. What are those initial, obviously besides hiring you directly which we will add some links to that. How does somebody get going and see if there is right there. What sort of data that can look at. what first steps might they take to approach this market?


Speaker 2: Sure. There are few source that i really like. I mentioned one of them, Pew Hispanic Center. and there are two other sources that i recommend in terms of getting is i think is really important demographic data , so you know whether you are working in a particular city particular state nation -wide, you can find out who your community is. The Census is fantastic. Census.Gov. It is free and there is tons of information about the Latino community there. Find out if you are working in Delaware, you can find  the nationality of Latinos in Delaware, are they Mexican Americans , Puerto-Rican. You can find out the age, all sorts of interesting information. Census is great too. Also I am a fan of Portadaonline . it’s spelled P O R T A D A and then the word online . That is a great web site that shows a lot of marketing data about the Latino community which can be helpful to decide who to target to. I think the overall question is who do we want to be talking to. and the more specific the better for getting started. Is it 18 to 34 year old Latinos in Baltimore . Then that will inform your  entire strategy going forward. I think that’s the first question to ask. I think a lot of non profits jump to action before thinking about who are they talking to .


Speaker 1: I want to  agree. Thank you for sharing those resources. Super tactical, super practical . As we leave you, how do people find you, how do people help you.


Speaker 2: So you can find me on Twitter at Matthew P. Adler. You can also find me on LinkedIn. My name is Matt Adler. There are a  few of us. But you should be able to find me by my company name. and feel free to be in touch through my Email at [email protected]. and i look forward to being in touch.


Speaker 1: Well Matt i think i speak  for the audience  as i say, muchas gracias senor! and you have been very helpful.


Speaker 2: de nada, muchas gracias.


Speaker 1: There is a lot of hype right now on energy being spent on making sure our sites are mobile responsive , are we mobile friendly. we want to make sure that we are accessible. That we are accessible to people no matter where they are with regard to the device. I think the next wave that will be inevitably coming must be to figure out that we have to make our sites mobile responsive and hopefully not highly responsive. The next wave is going to be about  language and the native language our web site is in. you know what. as much we do love our Internet lord and savior, Google, I don’t think Google translate is not going to cut it, which means we are going to have to pay attention to how we are translating our sites into the native tongues of the people who want to reach. matt shared a bunch of really great resources for understanding  demographic data that is available to us to understand the audience. and ultimately i hope that this is the start of our conversation internally as our organization . you know how to reach out to reach to Matt. And of course you can always find more podcasting resources at wholewhale.com/ podcastluckynumberepisodetrenta or 30. Thanks for joining us. [Music 21:05 – 23:16]