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Gaining Political Leverage Through The Use of Social Media

Not only are they the fastest growing population in the United States, now Hispanics are also considered the earliest users of smart phones (according to experts) due to the increased number of Hispanic youth and because many simply cannot afford a computer.  To take it a step further, 72 percent of Latino Internet users say they are on Social Media sites compared to 58 percent of all U.S. internet users, according to the Pew Research Hispanic Center.  When it comes to Facebook, 54 percent of Hispanics regularly use the social network compared to only 43 percent of white Americans.  Drawing from these findings and numbers, onlookers are lead to believe that Hispanic consumers’ use of smartphones, television, online video, and social networking make this group one of the most engaged and dynamic populations in the current digital space.

In the past year alone, activists say social media platforms have also been a gateway in boosting voter registration among Hispanics, who supported Barack Obama.  Social Media has also brought attention to immigration reform and serves as a key resource for obtaining legal status through President Obama’s deferred action program.  Below are a few influential events that were created via social media platforms by various Latino activists and brought to our attention via Politico.com.

iMarch – The March for Innovation

imarchIn an effort to promote immigration reform, Hispanics leveraged the recent social media surge to coordinate a virtual “iMarch” on Twitter, generating thousands of tweets (that landed more than a half billion times) that caused this to be among the largest of social media advocacy efforts.  The political leverage was so impactful that Members of Congress found their Twitter accounts inundated with hundreds of messages and the push caused prominent supporters such as Obama, Condoleezza Rice, Bill Clinton, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Arnold Schwarzenegger to tweet support for reform to millions of their followers.  The march also partnered with Obama’s OFA (Organizing for Action), which helped promote it and push traffic.  The president tweeted a number of times to his 31 million followers – and at one point retweeted Jeb Bush.

Going forward, organizers for the “iMarch” will use the successful social template to put pressure on Congress and strive to push the controversial reform bill through the House and Senate.

#LATISM

LATISM.org was launched in 2009 as “Latinos in Social Media” to develop cultural and political connections and communication within the community. The hashtag #LATISM is now used more than 1 million times a week, reaching more than 10 million people (according to Elianne Ramos, a founder of LATISM.org).

Voto Latino

vote latinoNine years ago, Maria Terese Kumar saw the potential of reaching Latinos online and started www.VotoLatino.com as a way to engage young Latinos in the civic process through social media. Today, Voto Latino is a powerhouse in the organizing and registering of Latinos.

“We recognized immediately that Latino youth were among the pioneers in smart phone use, and we took advantage of that,” Maria Terese Kumar said. “They may not have had access to a computer but they all had smart phones. We saw that people wanted to see people, they wanted to be connected to their community culturally.”

Dreamers

One of the biggest success stories of Latino social media use has been attributed to the so-called Dreamers.  Loosely defined as young adults brought to the U.S. as children now struggling for an identity, these young, tech savvy and highly organized individuals are strong proponents of the Dream Act, which is now part of the comprehensive immigration reform, and would expand access to higher education for undocumented high school graduates.

DreamActivist-logoA few years ago, through online discussion forums, a handful of undocumented high school and college students began seeking each other out and eventually created www.dreamactivist.org. Today, the website serves as a sophisticated public relations campaign, aimed at publicizing success stories and encouraging other students to make their undocumented status known – which could provide them a public embrace and protect them from deportation.

Their story caught the attention of Oscar-winning film-maker Davis Guggenheim, who released “The Dream Is Now” (a documentary that gives a sympathetic portrait of the Dreamers).  Guggenheim collaborated with Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs, on the film (which is free and has been viral on social media for weeks).

For more information on how to leverage Social Media to reach this dynamic audience, contact us here!

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