US Cross-Cultural Social Media Marketing


GlobalWebIndex’s latest figures reveal a number of key social trends for anyone engaged with cross-cultural marketing in the US – with YouTube’s app now more popular than Facebook’s amongst Hispanic, Asian and Black/African Americans. Jason Mander, Head of Trends at GlobalWebIndex, exclusively talks us through some of the report’s key findings.

As the demographic composition of the American population has continued to shift and evolve, the task of identifying, and successfully responding to, attitudinal or behavioral differences between key ethnic groups has been elevated in importance. But just how different are the digital profiles of White non-Hispanic, Black/African, Hispanic and Asian Americans? Where does each group really stand apart, and where do their behaviors show little if any divergence from the average?

To date, much debate has centered on similarities between Americans of various ethnicities, with many arguing that cross-cultural marketing campaigns need to pay the most attention to just how uniform the American audience is. But if we focus on social networking trends, GWI’s latest data, based on interviews with more than 15,000 US internet users – it reveals some clear differences.

Before we explore this, it is important to highlight one constant: despite claims about Facebook having lost its appeal or being deserted by its members, the simple truth is that it remains by far the most popular social platform – with more than three quarters of internet users in all groups having an account (peaking at a mighty 86% among Hispanic Americans).

Overall, then, Facebook still offers by far the best reach for any target group. Yet if we turn our attention to active usage of social networks, that is, people who say they have actively used or contributed to a particular service within the last month, a slightly more nuanced picture emerges. Facebook still remains top of the pile and has more than twice as many active users as any other social platform, but White/Caucasian non-Hispanics are notably more likely to be engaging with the site on a regular basis (being more than ten percentage points ahead of Black/African Americans, for example).

This finds reflection in terms of app usage. Within the mobile space, YouTube has in fact achieved a rare feat: among Black/African, Hispanic and Asian Americans, more people are using its app each month than Facebook’s. Certainly, the gaps are very small. But that more than two thirds of mobile internet users in each of these three groups say that they used the YouTube app last month is impressive nonetheless. In contrast, Facebook’s app is the clear favorite among White non-Hispanics (73%, vs 60% for YouTube).

And it’s not just on YouTube where we find these patterns. Driven in part by the younger age profile of the Asian, Hispanic and Black/African Americans, it’s these groups who are the most likely to be using Twitter, Instagram and Google+ as well as a wide range of messaging and chat tools. As an example, while nearly 20% of Hispanic and Asian American mobile internet users in the US are using WhatsApp each month, the equivalent figure among White non-Hispanic Americans is just 5%.

So despite Facebook still ruling the roost overall, non-Caucasian groups typically have the broadest and most diverse social profiles, with a notably heavier mobile focus. And for any marketers out there, it’s clearly important that they also tend to be much more vocal about sharing their views with others – with Hispanic Americans the most likely of all to share things on social networks and broadcast their opinions about products and brands. In the world of Cross-Cultural Marketing, then, the differences between groups really can matter as much as the similarities.

Download a free summary of GWI’s new Cross-Cultural Marketing in the US report.