La Revolución Será Tuiteada: Next Gen Latinos & Social Media

By José Cruz

Like many, I have been watching the recent large growth of Latinos using the Internet, social media and mobile applications. It seems as if every other week a new study is coming out showing that my community is “over-indexing” these new forms of technology and communication. From our use of social media, to video sharing, to adoption of mobile internet use, Latinos seem to be plugging-in and jumping-on faster than any other ethnicity in the country.

I saw this “trend” in most of my Hispanic friends; they were the first people to line-up for an iPhone and seemed to quickly embrace Twitter and Facebook. But the skeptic in me kept kicking in believing that nothing is true until you see raw numbers that you have collected. So I set out to investigate myself. For over three weeks I conducted a simple poll of ten questions targeting new-generation Latinos online about their social media usage, smart phone applications and language of choice. Through various social media outlets and emails, I gathered just over 100 respondents from across the country in major Latino markets. With the help of friends at www.newstaco.com and www.Latism.org the survey was spread virally across the country. So here are the results.

Smart phone usage:

  • Texting– Over 70% of respondents said they texted at least 3 to 4 times a day, with 40% of respondents saying they text “whenever they can.”
  • Mobile application usage– 75% of respondents said they had and used mobile applications on their smart phones.
  • Mobile applications used– Of those responding “yes” to using a mobile application, Facebook and Twitter were the most cited, with personal banking apps and local news papers coming in strong. Among respondents 25 and under, gaming apps such as “Angry Birds” and “Words with Friends” were also listed.

Social Media Outlets/Blogging:

  • Social Media– Facebook was the clear winner with over 92.7%, while Twitter came in 2nd with 65.5% of respondents saying they used them at least “a few times a week.”
  • Blogging– 45.1% of Respondents said they participated in Blogging.

Language of choice:

When asked what their language of choice was for content they searched for on the Internet

  • 47.3% said “All English”
  • 41.8% said “Mostly English, occasionally in Spanish”
  • 10.9% said “An even mix of both English & Spanish”

Let me be the first to admit, I am not The Pew Research Center. Since I was using social media outlets to collect the data, logic dictates the results would be strong supporting their use. Within my community of next-gen Latinos we all have been talking about this revolution for some time but still are looking for ways in which to grasp its full potential. One major reality we have woken up to is the recession that has been affecting the Latinos community more so than the general population. The new generation, schooled since birth online, is easily embracing the mobile/social media world as a low-cost mechanism for making new friends, networking and entrepreneurship.  There were some interesting generational differences in the resuts.

I found Twitter and Foursquare to be more popular with respondents under 35, while Facebook (which was across-the-board a favorite) more easily embraced by all. I asked older respondents why they didn’t use Twitter and most told me “they just didn’t see the need.” When I probed further, I found that most felt one form of social media was enough, and Facebook gave them a mechanism to do everything they wanted and that was what most of their friends and family used.

This all could change within the coming years as Latino families grow up. As one father told me, “I got on Facebook because I wanted to see photos of my grandchild, but now my younger daughter (who is 15) is using this Twitter thing. I’ll probably join just to keep track of what she is doing.” As the product of a Latino family, I’ve learned never underestimate a Hispanic parent’s desire to meddle in your life. Knowing my people, I predict that a whole new group of Latinos will soon embrace other platforms of social media, and quickly see their benefits. The ball has been rolling down the hill and with our community’s birthrates and fast embracing of new technology; it is only going to pick up speed.

‘Til then, let’s all keep texting the revolution.

[Photo By Phil Roeder]

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