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Social-media marketing and race

2 min read

Social Media

During the 2006 Idaho governor’s race, there was a lesser-known candidate named Dan Adamson who was looking for a way to drum up interest in his campaign. He announced that he was going to try to connect with Latino voters by offering a free taco to everyone who voted in that year’s primary, regardless of which candidate they supported.

Unsurprisingly, he didn’t win.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to cater to a specific group. But if you’re going to engage in targeted marketing, you need to do it with sensitivity and care — not broad stereotypes. And just because something works today is no guarantee it will work tomorrow. McDonald’s Web site for African-Americans,, was online for years before it attracted any negative attention.

The subject of race is never easy to broach. But as Hector Orci notes, too many companies would rather completely ignore a demographic than try to talk to them. But I don’t think it needs to be scary. Don’t bite off more than you can chew — I would not recommend trying to tweet in Spanish if you don’t actually speak it. Just be yourself and take the time to get to know potential customers from all kinds of different groups. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your customers are all exactly like you. Once you understand who you’re talking to, it’ll be easier to decide what to do next.

Is reaching out to the Latino community as simple as translating your tweets from English to Spanish? Is offering Black History Month promotions enough to earn you any love from African-Americans? My guess is you need to dig deeper. When you’re talking to a specific group, your communications need to be honest, authentic and rooted in that community — just like all your other marketing.

Are you using social media to try to reach specific ethnic groups or other demographic categories? How can companies approach these groups in a way that moves beyond stereotyping and creates real engagement? What are some companies that do a particularly excellent job tailoring their message to a specific community?

Image credit, Konstantin Sutyagin, via Shutterstock