Hispanics are all about a sense of community. Maybe that's why they have found the perfect platform to establish virtual meeting spaces where they can seek information and exchange opinions, ideas and experiences on the Internet. In the last few years, the number of Hispanic Online Forums, Bulleting Boards, and Blogs has increased dramatically in number and popularity. Today there are hundreds of Online Hispanic Forums, most of them associated to major Hispanic portals and online publications in the USA and Latin America. As a growing trend, they are becoming a must-have for any website interested in establishing a valuable and long-lasting relationship with its visitors. Most forums users have a tendency to participate on these online communities on a regular basis and very often develop very strong emotional ties with the community at large and with their peers.
The most popular Hispanic Online Forums are integrated in portals such as Univision (probably the number one), Terra, AOL Latino, Starmedia, Telemundo, MSN Latino and Mi Gente (for Latinos but published in English). Many of them contain dozens of individual forums that, in some cases, are created and moderated by the actual users. In general, the topics most frequently discussed in online forums are related to Entertainment (Telenovelas, Music, TV Shows and “Famosos” are always hot topics), Dating and Relationships (let's keep in mind that forums are anonymous), News and Politics (immigration issues are always popular), Sports, Money and Careers, Religion, Family, Health and Beauty, Food, Travel, etc. Current events are also very closely followed and it's common to see specific forums created around major events, such as the recent death of Pope John Paul II or the trial of Michael Jackson (Univision is actually mirroring the trial with a “cybertrial” conducted in their forums and whose jury members where selected among their forums users).
Theme oriented online communities have also developed very active forums with a full array of discussions around a main topic of interest. TodoBebé.com, for instance, offers 44 different forums where new mothers (and fathers) exchange information and share their experiences. Their forums have more than 220.000 register members.
And while people talk, companies listen. Online Forums have become a source of unparalleled real-time/real-life insights into the heart and purchasing habits of the Hispanic consumer.
By Cristina Mella