Getting new customers and their friends is a matter of engagement

Online social networking has grown to the point of becoming ubiquitous, and although it has also advanced considerably in terms of innovation and technology, the underlying word-of-mouth strategy of social media was a staple of Hispanic business long before Facebook was a household term.

The Word-of-Mouth Effect

Small business in just every corner of Latin America thrives on casual spoken communication between trusted entities, and it is a truly holistic operation. A typical example of a Hispanic business in South America would be a hair salon operated from a residential garage in a Brazilian suburb. Relatives and neighbors of the owner and operator of that hair salon are automatically enlisted in word-of-mouth marketing because they are trusted. Customers who are satisfied with the quality or pricing of the services will naturally contribute as well.

The example above can easily be transferred to neighborhoods in Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico or even Texas. It is important to notice that the essence of social media is the word-of-mouth effect, but it is substantially augmented by information technology. That hair salon in a Brazilian neighborhood will thrive without above-the-line advertising like radio and television commercials because trusted sources are already doing direct marketing on their behalf.

Simple Social Media

The first step in a solid social media strategy for a small Latino business will be to establish an online presence. A website used to be mandatory, but these days a Facebook or Twitter page would be sufficient. Even without a social media profile, a search engine listing submission as a local business with a telephone number and an e-mail address could go a long way. Major search engines such as Bing and Google will verify the listing.

If the business to be marketed caters to other businesses (B2B), then a LinkedIn page is required. Brick-and-mortar businesses will need local search listings more than self-employed professionals who may work from home or on the road, and those without a storefront will need a Web page or a stronger social media presence.

The Power of Reviews

Niche social networks like Yelp or Judy’s Book allow users to review and discuss business services, even if the business itself has not bothered to establish an online presence. This provides consumers and business owners a platform for exchange, which can also be set up with a Facebook or Twitter page. In this sense, social media profile pages can serve as customer service department.