Every four years, I watch presidential hopefuls struggle with Latino issues. While it’s concerning that so many millions of people in this country continue to be misunderstood, the eternal optimist inside of me sees a silver lining: watching candidates miss the mark allows organizations and business leaders to learn from these candidates’ mistakes.

As a multicultural marketing consultant, I like to encourage clients to take advantage of the campaign season by "recalibrating" their cultural filter. After all, this filter is the lens through which engagement will be interpreted. If you’re not seeing the world through this lens, then establishing authentic dialogue with Latinos will continue to be a pipe dream.

So, what could you be doing to “recalibrate?”

  • Organize a working lunch so that Latino colleagues and coworkers can share their varying views. Encourage everyone at this lunch to ask questions and share insight.
  • Follow more Latino bloggers.
  • Observe (or participate in) real-time conversations taking place on Twitter.
  • Tune-in to more radio programs produced by Latinos. 

Intelligent companies see the rise of Hispanic influence in this country as an opportunity. Intelligent marketers take advantage of these opportunities.

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AuthorZach Fishbain

I feel very honored to be a published contributor in Huffington Post's Latino Voices blog. On May 1st, I published the following article that talked about the need for health to become a more prominent piece of the Latino narrative being shared in this country. Below you can read the first paragraph. The article can be read its entirety on the Latino Voices page

Health Has to Be a Bigger Part of the Conversation

Most people associate Latino culture with delicious food, vibrant music, strong families and passionate people. These are flattering associations that have helped shape and define our cultural legacy. It's also how we see ourselves and how we want the rest of the country to see us, too. (Click HERE to read the rest of the article.)

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AuthorZach Fishbain

2014 is an election year, and there is sure to be fierce debate surrounding the rollout of Obamacare and immigration reform among other issues. Something that brands should look for this year is how such politically sensitive issues will continue to affect Latinos. Companies don’t have to weigh in on the political debate, but it’s obviously advantageous for them to truly understand which issues Latinos feel strongest about. There is a cultural filter through which all engagement will be interpreted. And politics will inevitably spill over into cultural identity this year.

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AuthorZach Fishbain

When my wife (a health blogger) and I got married, it seemed only natural for our wedding to have a heavy social media component. We even made sure to change our relationship status in front of all our guests using some tablets provided by the efficient. After all, nothing is really official until it’s on Facebook.

And while we had a photographer at the wedding, it was impossible for her to capture every perspective, every experience and every story unfolding at the wedding. And that’s why we let all our guests know to share any photos of the wedding using a hashtag unique to our wedding. All this user-generated content gave us a digital wedding album that everyone could see. 

The reason why I wanted to share this story is because it’s a model that any company can replicate when throwing an event. By integrating social media into the mix, you’re creating real-time buzz.  And if done mindfully it can play perfectly into the narrative you’re trying to share with your online audience.  Here are two ideas you can use in your next event:

1) Let everyone know about a unique hashtag they should use when they share their photos on Instagram.  Whether it’s a movie premier, a fundraising event or a wedding, get everyone involved and enable them to help tell your story.

2) Set up a photo-booth full of props and costumes that people can fun with and have your hired photographer snap away.  You can even set up the photo booth where people can take pictures of themselves. By making certain photos exclusive to fans, you’re creating more of an incentive for new fans and followers to like your page and tag themselves and friends in photos.  This tactic is called a “fan-gate.”

If a picture is worth a thousand words, you’ll have an entire library’s worth of content by the end of your event.  Have fun with the narrative you’re sharing and let others help you tell it.

Oh yeah, if you want to check out our wedding photos on Instagram, just search for #LovelyPalooza 

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AuthorZach Fishbain

The perfectionist inside all of us wants the perfect post, the perfect tweet, the perfect picture to convey the perfect message.  And hopefully the perfectionist inside of you get his/her way most of the time.  But there’s nothing wrong with a simple status update once in awhile. You don’t always need a link or a picture to go with your Facebook post.

User's newsfeeds are constantly bombarded with stories and updates.  So give them a break.  You might consider something as simple as “Hola amigos!” or “Who’s ready for the weekend?” or ¿Cuánto frío hace en tu ciudad?  You might be surprised at the positive response your post gets. Remember to stay personal and stay social. 

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AuthorZach Fishbain

By most standards, it’s a stretch for someone like me – a Jewish guy who was born and raised in Wisconsin to claim he is Latin American. 

But when you live in a country with a Latino population outnumbered only by the populations of Brazil and Mexico, it becomes less preposterous to make the argument. And history also shows us that our geography is intrinsically tied to the rise and fall Spanish rule throughout Latin America.  Just check out this map to see how much of the US once was a territory of Spain.

You also have to consider the prevalence of Latino culture in our country. Bilingual and Spanish-language newspapers, television channels, and radio stations are found in every major metropolitan area.  And the US isn’t just importing Latino culture – we’re producing and exporting it to the rest of the world.  Just look at Billboard Latino and you’ll see the names of US-born artists who are the voices and creative forces behind some of the most internationally popular Spanish-language songs.

One out of four babies now born in the US are Hispanic. But this demographic shift isn’t making our country more Latin American.  It’s just making us come to terms more quickly with a national identity that has been too easy to ignore for too long. I’ve embraced this identity and I own it.  And I challenge more organizations and companies to do the same and to embrace their own Latino identity. It’s not just good business – it’s American.

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AuthorZach Fishbain

“Salud, amor, dinero…y tiempo para disfrutarlos.” 

This celebratory toast is at the heart of what many Latinos hold nearest and dearest: health, family and moving up in the world.

And this simple brindis is the inspiration for Vida Saludable, the American Heart Association’s newest bilingual online resource to help Latino families get healthy and stay healthy together.

Chispa Digital was contracted by the American Heart Association several months before the Vida Saludable website and its corresponding social communities were launched.  The task at hand was to put a bilingual content and social engagement strategy in place that would make heart-health promotion both culturally and linguistically relevant to a Hispanic online audience. 

 

From the get-go, we know that merely telling people how to live, when to exercise and what to eat wasn’t going to work. First of all, nobody is in a position to tell someone else how to live.  We weren’t about to presume to know what circumstances might inhibit one from pursuing a healthy lifestyle.  Secondly, the health conversation is already over-crowded.  Every brand, blogger and health “expert” seems to have something to say on the subject.  We needed to distinguish ourselves from the pack. In order to establish the AHA’s authority in heart health, we needed to frame the conversation around what Latinos value most – familia. 

Latino men and women bend over backwards for their families – especially those who left their native countries to secure a more promising future for their loved ones. But sadly, health takes a back seat to working hard and taking care of one’s own.  That’s why we decided to make our conversation all about getting healthy and staying health together as a family.  And we attribute much of our initial success to the fact that our messaging plays into the strong family ties that Latinos share.

A little more than one month after the launch of Vida Saludable, we’re very pleased with how things are developing.  We’ve ascertained that there is a market that demands culturally and practically relevant content and social media continues to be at the center of this content strategy. 

What we’ve learned working with the AHA can be applied to all industry verticals.  It all comes down to really knowing your audience.  Whether your building your own brand, or working with clients to build theirs, you have to ask yourself what unique challenges do you address and what emotional connection are you seeking to establish.  If you take the time to truly understand your audience, you can determine what your audience values most and you can frame the conversation accordingly.  

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AuthorZach Fishbain

No matter which candidates and political party you supported in this last election, a key takeaway that all can agree upon is that you cannot afford to alienate Hispanic voters.

Hispanic voters turned out in record numbers this year and voted overwhelmingly in favor – 71% - to reelect President Obama. Even in Florida where Republicans can usually count on the support of a large and influential Cuban-American voting bloc, Latinos still voted overwhelmingly in favor of the president - 60% to 39%. 

Republicans need to do some serious soul searching and figure out a way to become more relevant in a country that is becoming increasingly Hispanic by the day. And just to make it abundantly clear, Hispanics are multi-issue voters.  Republican strategists understand that Hispanic voters want to vote on more than just immigration reform and it should interesting to see how the Republican party modifies its platform.    

Whatever the policies debated in 2014 and 2016 may be, appealing to Hispanics is going to come down to relating to them and understanding their values, motivations, struggles, and achievements. Like I tell all our clients, it's all about understanding the cultural filter through which any engagement will be interpreted.

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AuthorZach Fishbain

About a week ago, Jason Cormier of Room 214 - a Boulder, Colorado-based Social Media agency- reconnected with me to learn a bit more about the cultural and linguistic challenges companies face when penetrating new international markets.  It's a very well written article and it was an honor and privilege for me to contribute.  I invite you to take a look at Jason's article by clicking the link below. 

http://tiny.cc/ok4wlw

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AuthorZach Fishbain

I just got back from an action-packed, adrenaline-filled trip to Houston where I spent my week at the annual LATISM Conference.  And it was incredible!  For those of you who don’t know, LATISM is an acronym for Latinos in Social Media.  The mission of LATISM is to advance the social, civic and economic status of the Latino community.  And it is the epicenter of Hispanic social media where hundreds of bloggers and social networking mavens come together to share stories, best practices and address key issues affecting the Latino community in the US.

Panels and workshops that featured prominent individuals and organizations covered the emerging trends in business, health, technology and education.  And given the nature of the conference, every conversation spilled into the #Twitterverse.  By the time I left, it was reported that there had been more than 7,000 tweets that reached more than 7 million people and made more than 50 million impressions!

There were so many nuggets of knowledge and connections that everyone was able to benefit from, but if I had to summarize my experience in a single takeaway, it is this – Latina bloggers are taking over the world.  Of course there are men who are also making significant contributions with their blogs and digital influence, but the overwhelming majority of attendees and award winners were women. 

It was amazing to see how blogging has given so many women (and men) a platform to share their stories, passions, and perspectives.  And I commend and congratulate LATISM for creating a forum that harnesses and advances the collective voice of Hispanics.

I’m already looking forward to LATISM 2013 in New York!

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AuthorZach Fishbain