How Can Social Media Help Governments Serve the Booming Hispanic Population?

The Hispanic Population in America is on the rise. The overall growth in the U.S. States of Hispanics (or Latinos) was 15,171,776 from the 2000 to 2010 Census (U.S. Census Bureau, only U.S. States).

But the growth isn’t just happening where you might think it is.

Take a look at this map. It shows the growth of the Hispanic population (per county) from the 2000 Census through the 2010 Census. (Dark Green = most growth. Red = Decline in Percent Change. Click here for a larger size image. Notice that the most growth in the population (as a percent, since the 2000 Census) is not happening in the Southwest.).

Notice that the most growth in the Hispanic population (as a percent, since the 2000 Census, including Latinos) is not happening in the Southwest.

2000-2010 U.S. Census Hispanic Popluation Growth by County - By Matt Stiles - Texas TribuneBy Matt Stiles of the Texas Tribune from the “On the Records” blog. Resized for this post. Used w/ Permission from this post.

Where are large populations of Hispanics?

Here’s an interactive map of the percent of Hispanics per county for 2010*.
*minus Alaska & Broomfield Co., Colorado; from the U.S. Census Bureau

Reaching out to Non-English Speaking Citizens

Marketing and Public Relations are things that local governments do all of the time. (If you have a poorly designed website, don’t use social media, or rarely speak with reporters, that’s still saying something).

More and more, local governments are going to have to converse with a rising Hispanic population (some of whom would have a much better experience with government if things were in Spanish).

So the question becomes, how can local governments reach out and help it’s citizens who don’t understand English all that well?

Can technology help local governments communicate with Spanish-speaking Americans?

Some Ideas…

  • Use Facebook: What if the local government had a Facebook Page where questions can be asked & answered in Spanish? This way, fellow citizens can answer the question in Spanish… saving the local government time and resources to form a response. Hispanics (like everyone else) use Facebook, so it reaches them where they’re at.
  • Use Blogs: Post on multiple topics that describe (in Spanish) how certain government processes work. It allows for citizens to comment on the posts and get clarification from each other. At the same time, future readers of the posts might have their own questions already answered. Example posts:
    • How to pay a parking ticket.
    • How to pay taxes.
    • Where to vote (and how to register).

What ideas do you have? Are there examples of local governments using social media to reach the Hispanic Population? Let us know in the comments!


A similar version of this was originally posted at the company that I work for’s product blog (Disclosure: the product deals w/ transparency, gov’t, & technology)

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Darrel W. Cole


Good post. Lots of things to talk about for sure. With the advent of social media as another way to reach the public, the challenge for communicators for government is making sure we are including all populations. Where we have to start is who exactly is the target audience on a particular government project, initiative or program, and are there local, state or federal laws that would require specific outreach to minority groups or related. Once you know that, then you may begin the strategic process of public outreach/involvement, and that is using the census, contacting community organizations and advocates etc. Related to social media and mobile applications, there is a recent Pew Study that shows black and Hispanic populations have a higher percentage of cell phone ownership than white populations, and that each year more and more people are utilizing mobile phones to access the Internet. Right there is an opportunity to engage with more people. The key to all of this is continuing to utilize traditional outreach tools while implementing new and emerging tools where and when it makes sense.