Peaking into the future: Seven trends in multicultural social and digital marketing for 2012

By Loida Rosario, Marketing Strategist and Innovation Guru (HispanicAd.com)

The future cannot be predicted. Peter Drucker reminds us. To influence the future, you have to create it. Betting on the right trends helps create that future.

The explosion of social and digital marketing, although enabled by technological advances, is fueled by consumption. Who is creating its future? I would argue that largely multicultural consumers in the U.S. and global consumers in emerging economies are driving the future of social and digital marketing. These segments are both lead (who influence other consumers) and heavy (who consume most) users.

Am I implying that diverse segments are driving the future of social media? Yes. Given their size, collectivistic nature, relative youth, and accelerated growth rates, these segments are the growth engine of social media and digital marketing. (For this short discussion, the focus is on the U.S. The explosive growth of digital technologies in emerging markets has been more commonly explored.) A look at a few social media consumption numbers in the U.S. gives credence to the argument:

o For example, Hispanics over index (263%) as viewers as content creators in YouTube

o Another example is Twitter, a study by Pew Research shows that both African Americans and Hispanics over index in Twitter usage.

o A Forrester study also showed that Hispanics tend to over index in all type of social media, e.g. Facebook.

From this perspective, here are my top predictions for multicultural digital/social media in 2012 that will also drive the overall market:
Original content: So far social media has thrived by ‘retweets’ and ‘comments’ on aggregated content that gets shared. Although creators of new ideas and content are increasingly difficult to track, the pressure for authenticity and newness will spark a rediscovery of true new content. Latinos, with their rich and varied cultural heritage; African Americans and their continued position as trend setters; and the many cultures from different Asian countries represented in the rapidly increasing foreign populations in the U.S. are/will be main content creators in science, entertainment, social issues and business.

Multi- Languages: For those who are addicted to translation software programs with all their convenience and inaccuracies, true multi-lingual high quality content will evolve. Spanish content is starting to increase with digital properties from Spanish-speaking countries getting some traction. Content in Arabic and Chinese languages will continue to increase as local regions get more internet access. (E.g. Sino, Orkut, Baidu, Vevo, Alibaba, Yahoo EnEspanol, Google Brasil, etc)

Personal ‘clouds’: Cloud computing will become personal. The hard drives of our PCs and smartphones will no longer be enough to hold massive gigabytes of video content and other types of evolving rich multimedia (e.g. augmented realities). Capabilities such as large storage, categorization and transparence of access across devices, will become paramount at the individual level.
Mobility everything: Already recognized as the most important personal belonging in our lives, cellular devices with inherent ‘everywhere’ reach, real-time, and interactive features will continue to thrive. Studies show that Hispanics today already over index in advanced phones ownership and usage.

Global/Local and Total Market/Hispanic:

Top marketers are finally discovering that reaching multicultural segments is not an ‘either or’ proposition but rather a matter of allocation. Examples such as Coca Cola’s “Uncover Happiness/Destapa La Felicidad” program, become marketing platforms that cohesively address key brand messaging at the local and global level, and also go deep into the Hispanic market in an integrated and yet authentic new U.S. mainstream approach.

Metrics Galore: Or should I say lack of? As ‘general’ social media and digital marketing metrics evolve, huge gaps will continue to exist in the ability to clearly compare and contrast ROI in Hispanic specific, integrated English/Spanish, or ‘total market’ campaigns and programs. Smart companies, like P&G and General Mills, will forge ahead experimenting with new measurement models that demonstrate the obvious value of investing in these segments. Others may continue to use this as an excuse.

To be able to create the future, we have to be willing to think ‘different’; for example, to accept diverse market realities. An honest and deep examination of the underlying forces behind key 2012 predicted trends may be the most meaningful way to prepare, if not create, the immediate future.

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