As US consumers are increasingly diverse, it is important for marketers to get to know how different groups think and how they relate to their products and categories. We examined how social media is allowing Black and Hispanic consumers to get closer to their roots and zeroed in on how products and services are marketed to these demographics over social media.

Mintel’s Black Consumers and Social Media US 2014 report states that nearly 21 million adult Blacks aged 18 and older are on social media. Word of mouth has always been powerful in the Black community, and social media can exponentially magnify its effect. The power of influence is astronomical, particularly among Millennials. Black social networkers average 443 connections among their top three networks. People aged 18-34 are twice as likely as older consumers to have at least 450 connections.

Overall, about two thirds of Hispanics are estimated to use social media, meaning that at least 24.4 million adult Hispanics aged 18 and older are on social media. Not only do Hispanics use social networking sites, they are becoming more engaged with them. According to Mintel’s Hispanic Consumers and Social Media US 2014 report, the vast majority of Hispanics consider that their usage of social networks has increased in the past year compared to two years ago. Social media is allowing them to deepen their relationships with close friends and family while expanding their area of reach/influence with people who are not as close.

Social media a forum for Black consumers

Social media can be one space where consumers can present themselves as they are without fear of judgment. This phenomenon gave origin to culturally relevant virtual communities, such as Black Twitter, that focus on the issues and interests of Black consumers. The defining characteristic of Black Twitter is that its members are interested in issues of race in the news and pop culture. While the community includes thousands of Black Twitter users, not everyone following Black Twitter is Black.

80% of Hispanics say social networks enable them to be in fluid touch with friends and family in Latin America and to be closer to their Hispanic roots

Black Twitter came to wider public attention in July 2013 when it was credited with having stopped a book deal for one of the jurors in the trial of George Zimmerman. (Zimmerman was controversially acquitted that month of charges stemming from the shooting of Trayvon Martin, a Black teenager, in Florida in February 2012.) Black Twitter’s swift response to the juror’s proposed book resulted in coverage on CNN.

Social media a key factor in Hispanic consumers being bicultural

According to Mintel’s data, 80% of Hispanics say social networks enable them to be in fluid touch with friends and family in Latin America and to be closer to their Hispanic roots. Moreover, Spanish language is not uncommon in many of the communications with their contacts. This phenomenon is allowing Hispanics to remain mainly bicultural, and it is embraced by both unacculturated and bicultural Hispanics. They live in an American world exposed to the American culture, while at the same time they are constantly reminded of their Hispanic roots via social media. This real-time connection allows Hispanics to be permanently aware of what is going on in Latin America and that will keep them bicultural.

Relating this to the business word

Both Black and Hispanic consumers are active social media users. The main draw that social networking has for Hispanics is that it gives them an additional space where they can be in constant communication with friends and family who live far away. In the case of Black consumers, social media also allows the connection with friends and family with the addition of providing them with news, particularly when news impacts the Black community.

This is where social media becomes interesting! Conversations in this environment have the potential to influence the ways in which Hispanic and Black consumers learn and exchange opinions about products and services as well as deals that they find. These conversations may become a source of encouragement and inspiration for them to look for good deals, try new products, or even get ideas on how to use products in ways that they hadn’t thought of before. Being among the first in their social circles to identify a great service or purchase a new product may even give them bragging rights.

Online communities provide marketers with a unique platform where they can observe and learn first-hand about Black and Hispanic consumers–how they are feeling, how they relate to a brand or product category, and what matters to them. Marketers that are able to incorporate this information into brand strategies and put negative comments in the right perspective will be in a better position to reach these segments with a meaningful proposition which is the foundation to building a solid relationship.