How Government Agencies can Use Facebook to Connect with Spanish-Speakers in the U.S. – Part 1

US Latinos, 50.5 million and growing rapidly, use the Internet, social media, and mobile at greater rates than the overall US population and are very enthusiastic about using online tools to receive government information.

According to The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), 30 million Latinos were online in 2010, representing 59.5% of the total Hispanic population in the U.S, and according to Big Research, over half of them (54.2 percent) regularly use Facebook.

A Diverse Community

The U.S. Latino community is extremely diverse, particularly in terms of country of origin and language preferences. The U.S.-born segment is now growing more quickly than those who are immigrating. In terms of language-preference breakdowns, approximately 23 percent of online Latinos are Spanish dominant and 31 percent are bilingual according to the 2010 AOL Cyberstudy. Given that most English-preferring Latinos are already online, growth is coming from these less acculturated, often Spanish-dominant, groups.

A Golden Opportunity to Reach Less Acculturated Groups (Including New Immigrants)

The growth in the number of less-acculturated Latinos using the Internet, social media and mobile presents great opportunity for government agencies to effectively target these often hard-to-reach groups in a cost-effective way. These users are often newer immigrants who are generally unfamiliar with the workings of the government. Having access to easy-to-understand information could significantly help them become well-informed and productive residents and citizens. The roughly 4 million U.S. Facebook users who have their language set to Spanish make this social networking site a clear choice for reaching out to this population.

Possible Uses of Facebook for Government Agencies

Although each agency will have its own priorities that will guide how they use Facebook to reach this audience, in general we believe that they can take advantage of Facebook to:

  • Share agency information, especially important information and alerts.
  • Provide access to Spanish-language information and resources on your agency website.
  • Interact with those who “like” your agency’s page in-language and answer questions. The answers for which may be useful for many.
  • Educate less acculturated groups, who may often be newer immigrants and have very different needs than native-born English speakers, on their agency missions and their rights and responsibilities.

In our next blog, we will talk about how government agencies are currently using Facebook to reach this growing online demographic and provide a series of recommendations on how they should proceed.

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Julie Chase

“US Latinos, 50.5 million and growing rapidly” Why is that do you suppose?

“These users are often newer immigrants who are generally unfamiliar with the workings of the government.”

If they are attending the classes already in place (on their way to becoming citizens) this is covered. There are also opportunities to get a high school diploma or GED as an adult, and move into the college/university after that. These programs are already in place and have very heavy social media coverage. Uncle Sam has loosened the purse strings and folks not familiar with the US already know where to go to get help. In order to have “rights & responsibilities newcomers to the US need to take advantage of the programs already in place to become a citizen. This is when the “rights” come due.

On the bullet points:

1. Why? That is already in place in alot of cities with spanish speaking residents.

2. Why? We are spending thousands of dollars on classroom programs for the spanish language folks to learn english. Ever community college in every city has one, paid by fed and state taxpayer dollars.

3. I believe our agencies page is written in the language most speak at the installation, which is english

4. I think that is great, as long as the new immigrants are legally here. Not sure how they would have different needs than english speakers because the whole idea of coming to America is to “become” an American. At least that is what my grandparents told me when they boarded a boat and came to Ellis Island.