You’ve decided it’s important to include Spanish content in your marketing efforts. As 41 million people in the U.S. speak Spanish at home, this is an important demographic and employing a strategy to reach them effectively is critical for any organization. But where do you start? Creating content in any language can be a challenge, and when it comes to Spanish content, there is more to it than a simple English to Spanish translation. Many factors will affect what Spanish content you create and how that content will take shape. We layout 5 key factors to consider before you get started.
,,#1. Do your research
We start here because this is going to inform the rest of your Hispanic marketing strategy. It’s important to understand your audience in order to communicate with them effectively. This is true for any marketing strategy, but when we’re talking about Hispanic marketing, there are specific pieces of information you want to look out for in addition to the market research you’re already doing for your non-Hispanic audiences.
One very important thing to consider is the heritage of the community you’re targeting. Do they primarily have cultural ties to Mexico or does the Hispanic community in your area mostly claim Central American heritage? Or it could be an even mix of both. Knowing the answer is going to inform a few things in your Spanish content marketing strategy.
First, you probably don’t want to do a campaign around El día de los muertos (a Mexican version of Halloween) if the Hispanic community in your area more closely associates with Colombia, for example. It wouldn’t really be culturally relevant in that case. Understanding the underlying cultural aspects of your target audience will help you create content that really resonates. It will also demonstrate that your organization takes this audience seriously and appreciates and celebrates their unique customs and traditions.
Second, Spanish varies from region to region. The differences aren’t so huge to define them as separate dialects, it’s still the Spanish language, but there are key phrases, colloquialisms and vocabulary that are unique to each country or region in Spain and Latin America.
Usted, tú, vos, vosotros
For example, Spanish has two forms of the word “you,” one formal (usted) and one informal (tú). We’ll talk more about which form you should use later on in this article. However, it’s not at all that simple. In Spain, they use a plural form of the informal “tú”, “vosotros,” that they don’t use anywhere in Latin America. In the rest of the Spanish-speaking world, they only use the plural form of “usted,” the formal you, even if you’re addressing a group of close friends.
Furthermore, in Argentina, Uruguay, parts of Colombia and a few other places, they use an entirely different word (and verb conjugation) for the informal you. They use “vos” instead of “tú.” The way you address your audience is so important, it would be a critical error to get this wrong.
There are many ways to find out more about the breakdown of the Hispanic audience that you’re targeting. Depending on your marketing budget, you could hire an agency to do the research for you. At Press 2 Communications, we help you with this kind of research as part of our strategy consultation. If you’d rather find these answers on your own, there a few easy tips that will help.
Hispanic community organizations
Pretty much every city with a sizeable Hispanic population (which would be most cities in the U.S.) will have a Hispanic or Latino community center that serves the local community. Check out the events section of their website to see if you notice any trends in the types of events they are promoting. Do they tend to focus almost exclusively on Mexican culture? That could be an indication that most Hispanics in your area have cultural ties to Mexico.
Pew Research Center
This is an absolutely amazing resource for insights into the Hispanic community in the U.S. The Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends division has tons of data and analysis that offer invaluable insights. They have facts and figures such as median income and homeownership prevalence at a state level.
What Latin American consulates are in your area?
If there is a consulate of a Latin American country in your area, that’s probably a good indication that there is a sizeable community of people with ties to that country. Of course, large cities like New York or Chicago are home to many consulates from countries all over the world. However, the fact that there is a Mexican consulate in Omaha, Nebraska or a Guatemalan consulate in Providence, Rhode Island is pretty telling that there must be a sufficient reason for these countries to offer consular services in those cities.
nn,,#2. Determine what content you can repurpose
A direct translation from English to Spanish is never going to be as effective as thoughtfully transcreated content. Transcreation takes culture and language into account to perfectly adapt English content into an effective Spanish equivalent. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t repurpose your existing English content. In fact, that’s often the most effective way to approach any content creation strategy. So how do you know what content is appropriate to be repurposed or if you need to start from scratch?
Determine the goal of your content
As with any piece of content you create, you need to have a clearly defined goal. Ask yourself: What do you want to say, who do you want to reach and what action do you want them to take? The answers to these three questions will set the foundation for the content creation process. The more you focus on exactly what you want to accomplish with your content, the more effective it will be.
Take an inventory of existing content
Now that you know what you want to say, who you want to say it to and what action you want them to take in return, it’s time to look at what content you already have in English. Find content that you’ve already produced that meets these criteria. It may be the case that you don’t have one piece of content that answers all three questions, but you can take snippets from different sources to create the Spanish content that will achieve your goal.
Use your research to make the determination
You’ve determined who your audience is, you’ve established your goal in creating Spanish content and you’ve done an inventory of your existing English content. Now it’s time to take these three factors to make your determination. Start by creating a rough outline of what you want to say and linking to your existing content where applicable and indicating where you feel new content will need to be created. There’s no set rule for how much content you’ll repurpose and how much new content you’ll need to create. The right mix will ultimately depend on what existing content you have and how relevant it is to the Hispanic audience you’re targeting.
,,,#3. Highlight relevant examples and stories,,
People who consume your content want to relate to what you’re saying. The stories and examples that you share in your Spanish content should be relatable to your Hispanic audience. If you’re sharing client testimonials, then you should share testimonials from Hispanic clients in your Spanish content. People are more likely to respond to your content favorably if they can see themselves reflected in it.
n,,,,#4. Use the personal form of you to address your audience,,
Especially when writing for the web or for social media, you should always address your audience directly. This is true for both Spanish and Engish content. When you’re creating Spanish content, it is best practice to you use the informal version of you, “tú” in most of the Spanish-speaking world and “vos” in countries like Argentina and Uruguay or certain regions of Colombia.
In Spain, people tend to gravitate toward the impersonal form of you in day-to-day life. Addressing a complete stranger with “tú” is nothing out of the ordinary. In Latin America, it tends to be very different, with the more formal “usted” being the default form of address and the informal “tú” reserved for friends and family.
However, when you’re writing for an online Spanish-speaking audience, the best practice is to use the informal “tú” (or “vos” if you’re marketing toward Argentina). This helps create a connection with the reader. They feel like you’re addressing them directly and in a friendly tone.
,,,,#5. Do NOT use free online translation software
If you use a free online translation service, like Google Translate, then nothing we’ve discussed in tips 1-4 will be remotely possible. Google Translate is a great tool for quickly deciphering an unknown word or phrase, but it’s not meant to be a marketing tool. The results may be comprehensible at best, but they’ll be awkward. An online translation of your English content immediately says to your Hispanic audience that you do not prioritize them enough to put in the effort to communicate with them effectively.
An important thing to consider is that Spanish content is not exclusively about breaking the language barrier. In fact, most Hispanics in the U.S. speak English fluently. However, they may feel more comfortable in Spanish and having a handful of Spanish pages on your website can go a long way in demonstrating your commitment to this audience.