This guest post is by Sara Inés Calderón, Editor, NewsTaco.com
News Taco, The Latino Daily, is a growing source of news and information from a Latino perspective that is just under one year old (our anniversary is officially October 1). We’ve grown from an idea discussed over tacos by our founders to a full-fledged news website that publishes daily readers across the country, and even the world. Since our launch last year, we’ve bootstrapped it as a startup and thus have learned some very valuable lessons about how to do things the most economical way, without doing them badly. First on this list of lessons was how to market to a burgeoning Latino market online without having to spend beaucoup bucks on marketing. The following are some anecdotal lessons that should serve any business or brand, regardless of size or intention.
1.) Know your audience. Latinos are not a homogenous group.
If you plan on trying to reach this market, or a segment of it rather, you need to have that clear and present in your mind. “Latinos” can include everything from fifth generation Texans to second generation Cubans to recently arrived Puerto Ricans, Chilean professionals, and much more. Considering such a diverse group of people with such cultural and socioeconomic differences as one entity would be a big mistake. So you have to narrow your focus a bit, as we did with News Taco. We’re not going to appeal to all Latinos, just the ones who are English dominant with enough Internet access to reach our site on a regular basis. So, for example, we don’t often publish entire posts in Spanish and talk about the U.S. Latino experience, rather than the Latin American experience, for example. If you think about it, that cuts out a huge chunk of the market right there, but it also brings in a whole different group — non-Latinos who read English and have Internet access. Because we know our audience, we’re able to cater to them. If you want to reach out or include Latinos in your audience, think first about which segment of this population you want to reach before you proceed.
2.) Remember culture’s place.
Latinos are Americans before they’re Latinos, that’s just a fact of life: they live in the United States. Sure Latinos care about their own culture and are interested in what happens in Mexico, but you have to remember the place for these things. This also harkens back to tip #1. As you reach out to Latinos you want to be cultural, that’s the whole point, but if you try to overdo it, you will drive people away. Culture should inform everything you do — not be the same message you send every time.
3.) Use language pointedly.
As mentioned previously, we don’t usually post entirely in Spanish because most of our readers can’t read more than a few sentences in Spanish at a time. As mentioned in tip #2, they’re American and speak English, so using too much Spanish is like talking down to them. Of course Spanish is important. We often use exclamations, sayings, names, slang, holidays and other relevant language that’s in Spanish — but this is the kind of stuff that is readily accessible to most people who grew up in a Latino family. Rarely do we get so into the language that it becomes inaccessible to our readers. We try to make language one part of our cultural relevancy, rather than using it to exclude readers. So it’s better to, again, inform everything you do with culture and Spanish, rather than making Spanish a central tenet of what you do. Of course, if you are targeting immigrants, this makes sense, but not if you’re targeting their children.
4.) Find, join and leverage existing Latino social networks.
Probably one of the biggest ways we were able to grow without investing in marketing was by leveraging our professional networks as journalists, and then taking this networking to social media. Twitter in particular, and Facebook in general, have been hugely beneficial to our organization not only because that’s part of the new media landscape, but also because we quickly found existing areas of Latino-heavy media traffic and began making friends. One good example of this is the #latism, or Latinos in Social Media hashtag on Twitter, that serves as an almost default Latino hashtag amongst media and other Latino professionals on Twitter. Using this hashtag we were able to meet new contributors, new readers, find our way into conferences and interviews, media exposure and much more.
5.) Collaboration is key.
This step builds on tip #4, which is to say, because the online media landscape when it comes to Latinos is relatively new, you’re going to have to see what other partnerships are available to you to grow as quickly and efficiently as possible. We’ve been able to partner with organizations in Texas, New York, California and people across the country not only for content, but to grow our readership, gain access to events and interviews, as well as become a bonafide national Latino news website. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling or what group you are targeting, I can guarantee that there is already some group on LinkedIn, a Twitter feed, blog or non-profit online that’s already halfway to where you want to be. Why invest new resources to reinvent the wheel when you can reach out and bring the authenticity of someone who already knows the landscape and grow that way?
There’s definitely a lot more lessons to be learned and, as News Taco continues to grow, we hope to be able to learn many more. Feel free to visit www.NewsTaco.com to learn more about The Latino Daily and see the application of these tips in action.