Reaching the “New Mainstream,” Multicultural America, via Social Media

This article originally appeared on MediaPost.

Last week, the leading advertisers convened in Miami for the ANA’s annual Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference. Historically, Hispanic, African-American and Asian-American marketers have fought hard for budgets even though demographic trends point to the fact that today’s minorities will become the majority in the coming decades. Hence, the summit was subtitled, “Multicultural – The New Mainstream.”

One marketer who clearly sees the growth of multicultural audiences converging with the growth of social media is McDonald’s. Rick Wion, Director of Social Media for the company, gave an excellent keynote presentation on “Multicultural Social Media,” specifically detailing how he manages their 3.6 million fans on Facebook, 60,000 followers on Twitter, 4000+ daily check-in’s on Foursquare, and 2 billion daily views on YouTube.

After the event, I had the chance to speak with him about the golden arch’s approach to social media, two of their successful promotions and his advice for using the medium.

How do you, as McDonald’s director of social media, distinguish between customers needs for information, entertainment and dialogue in social media?

We are extremely customer focused at McDonald’s and part of that effort includes extensive research to understand where customers are talking about our brand while also developing a sense of when and where they are looking for different types of engagement. We’ve found that Facebook and YouTube tend to be more about entertainment while Twitter and blogs are generally focused on dialogue.

At the ANA Multicultural conference you talked about a promotion you did with Papi Blogger and his trip road trip across the country where he and his family would eat at McDonald’s locations. Tell us about that.

The Papi Blogger road trip was a chance to partner with a leading Hispanic blogger as he embarked on an amazing cross-country road trip with his family.

As part of their journey, the Ruiz family visited notable McDonald’s in New York, Chicago and even Roswell, New Mexico while blogging, tweeting and posting videos about the experience. His 46-day journey showcased how McDonald’s is a part of Americana. In addition, it highlighted our commitment to families through our menu and visits to Ronald McDonald House Charities.

McDonald’s did a “Face of the Fan” promotion for the World Cup. How did that work and what kinds of results do you see?

The Face of the Fan promotion was way for soccer fans to show their team passion through the McDonalds Facebook page and our McDonald’s MeEncanta.com site. The mechanics of the promotion let consumers upload a picture and “paint” their face virtually with the flag of their favorite team. Part of the success of this program was that it let Hispanic customers celebrate their heritage by choosing any country in the app rather than being limited to the most populous ones. We saw tens of thousands of users paint their faces and also a 40% increase in traffic to MeEncanta.com.

Your celebrity endorsement of Michelle Wie worked well. How did she promote McDonald’s through her Twitter feed? She tweets in both English and Korean. How did that build a global following in both the U.S. and Asia?

Social media was a critical component to extend the reach of this program. Our partnership with Wie received a tremendous amount of positive buzz and excitement. We kicked off the partnership with announcements through both McDonald’s (@McDonalds) and Michelle Wie’s (@themichellewie) Twitter and Facebook pages. The second and third phases of the social media campaign began with the launch of the TV commercial and digital game at myinspirasian.com.

To date, this campaign yielded an amazing 197 million traditional and social media impressions. Michelle’s fans continue to respond favorably to the partnership, especially the direct engagement with Wie and bonus content like the behind the scenes video of the commercial shoot. Golf bloggers and influential twitterers were blogging and sharing McDonald’s new brand building commercial with Michelle Wie with their social networks. Bloggers and twitterers highlights include Stephanie Wei (blogger/writer and golfer), Ryan Ballengee (golf blogger and broadcaster), Danielle Tucker (radio host of The Golf Club Radio Show® in Hawaii) and Fastfoodjunky (popular twitterer to tweet news of quick service restaurants).

What recommendations can you make have for marketers about tapping into social media for multicultural audiences?

My main piece of advice for marketers who want to reach multicultural audiences through social media would be to start with solid research about how and where your audiences spend time. Only after you have this understanding should you then seek to engage with these audiences through social communities and events that are meaningful and culturally relevant.

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