Internet and The Tower of Babel

As marketers we face some challenges when communicating with Hispanics via the web. One of them is the language of choice. It is a fact that second and third generations of US Hispanics feel comfortable with English as the language in which they receive their media content. In some cases, those generations of Hispanics have become so proficient in English that they prefer it to Spanish as the language for entertainment and technology, specially those Millenials US Hispanics who have embraced English as their first choice for communicating with friends. We could easy conclude that English is the on-line language for US Hispanic, but this early assumption could be a mistake and some numbers can prove that Spanish could be very powerful when talking to Hispanics online. In a recent Media forum (1), Eduardo Sunol, Senior Executive Producer for Telemundo Networks, revealed some online statistics about their campaign for the coverage of the presidential election in 2012. Decision 2012, a fully Spanish coverage of recent US presidential election, ranked #5 as trending topic nationwide.

But communicating in Spanish is not the same as translating from English. A mere translation from English to Spanish won’t make any connection with US Hispanic, specially with those who prefer Spanish as their media content language. It is necessary to develop the content in the original language with the cultural insights that will guarantee the connection with US Hispanic. This is even more important if we are, as marketers, developing brand content and advertising.

There is not such a thing as a golden rule for choosing an online language for US Hispanic, but knowing the audience might help a lot. For instance, talking to a third generation Latino Millenial might be easier in English than Spanish, but if the target is the older Hispanic man or woman then the choice could be a different one. Internet comes in all the languages of the world but if we don’t use it the right way, it might end up as The Tower of Babel where nobody understood what the other was speaking.


(1) Miami Media Mixer Forum. October 25th, 2013. Intercontinental Miami Hotel. 

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