By Lili Gil, Co-Founder XL Alliance and Business & Politics Media Contributor
Short, yet powerful enough to amplify the voice of millions and spark world-movements in 140 characters; welcome to a new Twitter nation! Where relationships, conversations and like-minded people come together for a unique reporting-networking-happy-hour-debate-table-style-real-time-virtual-exchange.
However while most millennials (18-29) are in ‘tune’ with this new way of communicating, the greater majority of adults are still wondering what exactly this means for them.
According to TechCrunch, Twitter is surpassing 500 million users worldwide of which approximately 140 million are in the U.S. The platform has sparked revolutions, reported breaking news before hitting air-waves and has even become a service tool for influential figures like Mayor of Newark, New Jersey @CoryBooker to gather on-the-ground issues from the community.
However, taking a deeper look into the user profiles one thing is evident; just as the elections were shaped by a changing and more diverse face of America; the Twitter conversations are also reflecting a new majority minority reality. For example, Hispanic adoption and use of Twitter is significantly higher resulting in 18% of all Latinos online using Twitter vs. 13% of blacks and only 5% of whites. The population growth rates of Hispanics at 40%+ vs. 4% for the rest of the population compounded by their levels of engagement and adoption gives this segment a unique and emerging critical mass in the digital space.
But how do you find them? Simple, the power of the hash-tag! Many see it popping on the corner of a TV screen, on a brochure; billboard and are too embarrassed to ask exactly what this #SOMETHING means. Basically, the #TAG is like a ‘key word’ that serves as the glue to connect, intercept and bind the conversation of like minded people who are all microblogging about a given subject on Twitter.
To make it easier for those looking for Twitter engagement 101, here are three simple, yet practical, tips for you to get started in this journey:
1. #Discover: The first and most basic task is to click on the #Discover search feature of Twitter. This way you can identify hash-tags that are already active and binding conversations relevant to Latinos or your key subject matter. For example, hash-tags like #LATINO, #LATINOS, #HISPANIC, #BELATINO are some you can intuitively search for to see the types of conversation and people engaging. This not only gives you a peek into the audience’s mindset but also will quickly highlight twitter leaders and influencers. These conversation sparkers are the long-tail that can add up to millions! However for everything ‘Latino’ the most impressive and active hash-tag is #LATISM (Latinos in Social Media) generating millions of impressions and conversations daily. For example, during the last presidential debate #LATISM generated over 30 million impressions!
2. Engage during culturally relevant events in politics, business and pop-culture: There is nothing more powerful than engaging with Latinos when there is already a hot passion point in motion. This requires being culturally in-tune with the news, people and events that are likely to increase the conversation. Many big companies have taken advantage of this phenomenon, and when done genuinely it is very well received! For example, Univision and #LATISM partnered for Premios lo Nuestro earlier this year generating 10 million impressions via Twitter! Post’s Honey Bunches of Oats is also notorious for facilitating Latino conversations during major events like People’s Choice Awards, Latin Billboards and Latin GRAMMY events; where a parade of influencers like @BeChigMag, @webcitygirls, @OscarPetit, @TargetLatino, @LatinoRecap and LATISM founder @AnaRC, among others, all come together under one hash-tag #POSITIVEMIX to share positive news and messages from Latino celebrities exclusively from the most high profile events and red-carpets. This week for example they will be reporting positive messages from Latin GRAMMY nominees who will send special words to Sandy victims and share their best tips to stay positive.
And in politics, tags like #DREAMAct, #LATINOSFOR OBAMA and #VOTOLATINO #IMMIGRATIONREFORM, among others elevate the sentiment and sense of urgency of what has now been identified as the most influential and fastest growing voter community in the U.S.
3. Talk like a friend not a car-sales-man! Great, once you’ve found the conversations and the people, it is time to engage. However, many make the mistake of becoming spammy and annoying very quickly if all they care about is pitching their own pitch. One thing is to ‘sell’ and another one is to converse…and twitteros are savvy enough to tell the difference in just one tweet! Basically, inter-personal human principles translate to Twitter even at its limited 140 characters. So listen twice as much, take the time to compliment, re-tweet and respond. Think, how would I start a conversation at a happy hour or networking event with a person I haven’t met before? That same tone of voice applies in Twitter-world.
4. Track and measure: Luckily the web offers many social media measurement tools that can help you track and monitor conversations. Some of my personal favorites are Tweetreach, Tweetdeck, SproutSocial and Klout. These tools make it simple to track hash-tag performance, identify influencers and get inside the minds and hearts of your audience.
So next time you think Twitter is just for celebrities reporting what they had for dinner, think again! Major world-movements have sparked by Twitter conversations, petitions for public policy changes have been amplified with a hash-tag, and Latinos have claimed a stronger and bigger voice with the power of 140 characters well used.
Happy tweeting! @liligil