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Latinos rely more on social media than coronavirus lifeline, the Nielsen report finds

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Latinos are using social media, mobile apps and other digital platforms at higher rates than the general US population amid social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report released Thursday by Nielsen.

“Our personal and physical networks are at the core of how our community has grown, adapted, and how we stay informed,” said Stacie de Armas, Nielsen’s senior vice president of Diversity Insights, to NBC News. “In the absence of this, Latinos have very quickly filled this type of void by turning more to digital content than non-Latinos.”

For Latinos, bridging the social distancing gap means finding new ways to sustain their already established trustworthy community networks, which often serve as families’ lifelines in times of crisis, by replacing those face-to-face interactions with virtual ones.

While experts like de Armas believed that overall content consumption would increase as states began to close on COVID-19 and many people worked from home, “the degree to which we watched Latinos do it had helped understand how inclined Latinos were “. digitize to bridge the social distancing gap. “

Smartphone as a lifeline, especially for important workers

Latinos are increasingly using social media to connect with their trusted circles and discuss the information they are consuming. Hispanics are 57 percent more likely to use social media platforms as the primary source of information about the coronavirus compared to non-Hispanics, according to the report.

As a result of the pandemic, unemployment exceeded the peak unemployment rate for Hispanics during the Great Recession of 2007-2009, when it reached 13.9 percent in January 2010. COVID-19 has disproportionately infected and killed Latinos in many states.

Latinos account for at least 31.6 percent of all coronavirus deaths nationwide, despite the fact that they make up 19 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As a result, the Hispanic community turned to their “connectivity tool of choice – the smartphone – for news and information about the virus, health advice, and economic impact” while on the job, as they are “heavily involved in essential and service occupations”. like front-line workers in transportation systems, hospitals, hotels and agriculture, Nielsen found.

Latinos have over-indexed smartphone ownership for many years. New Nielsen data shows that 98 percent of Hispanics own a smartphone, compared with 93 percent of the general population, and they spend an average of over 30 hours per week on their smartphones; more than any other device, including televisions.

Compared to the entire US population, since the pandemic began, Latinos have been spending nearly two more hours a week watching videos, streaming audio, and streaming social networks on their smartphones.

Latinos are spending more time on their smartphones, in part due to the increased use of new mobile apps that help them manage social distancing and bans, such as dating apps and streaming services, as well as collaboration and messaging apps, Nielsen found.

Increased commitment to racial, social issues

While it was clear that Latinos were “digitally fluent” before the pandemic, COVID-19 as well as recent national events have led to a reinvention of that fluency, de Armas said.

For example, when music icons Shakira and Jennifer Lopez made history as the first two Latinas to lead Super Bowl LIV in February and performed in front of 100 million viewers with Latin American superstars J Balvin and Bad Bunny, Latinos used social media to talk about the historical event. Social contributions from the four Latino artists resulted in 7 million social engagements – 16 percent of all social activities for Super Bowl LIV.

After March, when the pandemic hit the US, Spanish-language news saw social media activity around their programs increase by 71 percent year-over-year. Social media activity around English-language news and prime-time conversations only increased 17 percent, according to Nielsen.

During the same period, Latinos mobilized and joined the Black Lives Matter protests and marches in solidarity for social justice. They turned to social networks where they spent more time than the general population – 57 percent spent more than an hour a day and 27 percent spent three hours or more, compared with 48 percent and 20 percent for the general population, respectively.

Latino social media clout made national headlines when calls to boycott Goya, the country’s largest Hispanic-owned grocery brand, went viral last month after the company’s chairman praised President Donald Trump’s leadership. Earlier this summer, Latinos used social media to campaign for an accurate census in the 2020 census and to defend DACA and justice for Vanessa Guillen, a Latina Army soldier found dead after disappearing from a Texas military base, and Andres Guardado, op. to call for a Latino teen who was fatally shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy.

Skepticism towards reliable, factual information

Among Latinos, 86 percent said access to factual information was a problem. While 61 percent said they saw more news because of the coronavirus, only 21 percent of Latinos believe cable TV news is trustworthy and 18 percent believe it is correct.

“Those are relatively low numbers,” said de Armas. “But when we talk about the importance of trustworthy networks in our community, radio really has a special purpose in Latino communities, especially Spanish-speaking ones.”

Over a third (37 percent) of Latinos spent more time listening to the radio due to COVID-19, compared with just 24 percent of white non-Hispanics, according to Nielsen. Another 48 percent of Latinos said they felt more informed and less stressed out listening to their favorite radio host.

“If you think of how our community in the United States grew 20 or 30 years ago, we networked that growth together – dialogue, education, and understanding. That is our core, ”said de Armas. “As they began to feel the pressure of physical distancing, we moved many of these networks into social space by using platforms differently than we see the overall market.”

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