Understanding Latino Use of Communication Technology

We Hispanics are a complicated people. It’s not easy to categorize a group of humans from so many countries, cultures, social and economic levels. Yet, there are many common demonstrators to help better understand U.S. Latino trends.

Here is a great piece from MediaPost’s”Engage:Hispanics” blog called “Defying Easy Categorization: Latinos And Communication Technology.’

It highlights three recent reports providing different data on the use of communication technology by Latinos.

The author, Andrew Speyer, warns readers that the challenge is “to avoid oversimplifying and to think flexibly and holistically about how Latinos use communication technology today.

As communicators try to better connect with the diverse Latino community, it’s vital to understand the complexity of Hispanics and how various generations of Latinos consume data and messages.

Some additional data to think about:

However, other data suggest that Latinos lead the market in the use of some communications technology. Nielsen reported in November of last year that 28% of mobile phone users in the U.S. now have smartphones and that 20% of those smartphone owners are Latino; Pew reports that Latinos are just as likely to access the Internet and send or receive email using their phones and are more likely to instant message with their phones (34% vs 20%).

What is more, 44% of adult Latinos own a smartphone, as opposed to 30% of the General Market, and those Latinos who use a smartphone are slightly more likely to use it to go online than their General Market counterparts (89% vs. 85%) and are even more likely to do so every day (Pew Internet). And Nielsen reports that Hispanics who have smartphones are more likely to use their apps for longer periods of time and are more likely to use them while socializing with friends and while commuting, shopping and finding a place to eat.

It is true that many Latinos are early adopters to new technology and social media.  Other Latinos still prefer local newspapers and Spanish-language radio and television programming. Many of these difference have to do with age, geography and social/economic status, and something unique to immigrant populations, acculturation. A concept not easily understood by many mainstream communicators (and political operatives.)

Speyer makes an important point in his post that is essential in connecting with the Latino community:

“We are not just tech laggards who can’t afford to keep up. And we are not simply enthusiastic early adopters who love to communicate. We are both, and accepting that contradiction is an important step in coming closer to a real understanding of who Latinos are today. SMS campaigns, apps and social media can be incredibly effective in reaching some Latinos, while others are more likely to be reached via radio, TV and print. It’s kind of a complex audience. Just like the General Market.”


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