Blog series originally posted at DK Web Consulting.
With traditional marketing taking a backseat to digital for many companies, the way government communicates with the public is shifting too. Government agencies are taking cues from the private sector and turning to social media to reach the public. In this report, we review in detail how government agencies look to communicate digitally with online Hispanics via Spanish-language Facebook pages.
The goal of this series of reports is to provide government agencies with a benchmarking tool for their own social media channels compared within their respective branch of government and among all government social media properties. This tool may be used by government agencies with an existing social media presence as well as those looking to better understand how to launch a Spanish-language Facebook campaign for the first time.
For this report series, 126 Facebook pages were reviewed of which only few were focused on a Spanish-speaking, Hispanic audience. Currently there are six government agencies with Spanish-language Facebook pages: Instituto Nacional del Cancer (NCI – National Cancer Institute), CDC Español (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention), HUD Español (Housing & Urban Development), EPA Español (Environmental Protection Agency), Gobierno USA (USA.gov) and Alerta en Linea (Onguard Online). The Spanish language Facebook pages for these US-based government agencies have been on Facebook anywhere from three years to as little as one year. Both the pages for NCI as well as CDC Español, one-third of the total number of pages, are Facebook pages belonging to HHS.
Only two of the six pages have more than 5,000 fans—CDC Español and Gobierno USA—yet all of the pages showed steady growth. The NCI was the third largest page with 2,481 fans, followed by EPA Español, HUD Español, and Alerta en Línea, with 1,881 fans, 1,125 fans, and 1,114 fans, respectively. In the following sections we'll examine Facebook metrics and look at how these Spanish-language pages performed in comparison to one another and the other, non-Spanish-language Facebook pages belonging to government agencies.
We observed a strong correlation between existing fan base and page growth, as the page with the most fans at the beginning of our study was also the page that showed the most overall growth. The CDC Español, which had 20,266 fans in November, grew by 9,906 fans or 96%, since our study began in January 2012. The page with the largest percentage of growth was the NCI. The NCI began with just 2,024 fans in January and grew t0 4,505 by November, with its percentage of fan growth at approximately 123%. Conversely, Gobierno USA, the page with the second-largest fan base, grew by approximately 38% (fourth out of six pages in terms of growth rate) despite posting daily.
Because so many people nowadays turn to Facebook and other social media platforms for news and information, it’s no surprise that much of the content found on Spanish-language Facebook pages is informational. To that end, the “About” section of most of these Facebook pages says something to the effect of providing users with information and tips regarding that agency’s specific area of expertise. For instance, the Alerta en Línea page offers users tips to protect themselves against internet fraud. Approximately once a month, the agency posts links to content on their site that contains tips or useful information. Like Alerta en Línea, the NCI posts links to content exclusively found on their website. Content can range from informational articles containing recent developments in their field to ways in which users can obtain help, information or counseling.
Alerta en Línea regularly offers tips to users as seen on this post above.
Although not the page with the most fans (the CDC Español as mentioned takes that honor), the EPA Español posts more than any other organization online, an average of seven times per day. The agency posts news and information, links to outside resources and articles relevant to the agency’s mission, and links to content on their site. HUD Español also sources from news outlets and press releases to pepper their Facebook page with useful information for fans. The agency also uses Facebook to promote blog posts they’ve published on their site. While other agencies post their own content, none credits this content specifically to their blog the way HUD Español does.
The NCI frequently posts information and links to articles found on their site.
Spanish-language government Facebook pages, though active in their own right, are still struggling to gain traction within a Spanish-speaking audience. As government agencies continue to develop their web presence, both the thousands of existing fans and millions of potential fans will turn more to Facebook for advice and answers much like the English-speaking audience, which so heavily relies on social media in order to engage with the companies and agencies they follow. Do you use social media to find answers or do you seek more traditional routes to get your questions resolved?
Due to size restrictions, we only cover several of the highlights of the report on this three part blog series. If you would like the full complimentary report which includes all analysis in one PDF file please provide your name and email to “info(at)dkwebconsulting.com” and you will receive it by email.
 All analysis was performed between January and November of 2012.