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Making Mexicans Feel Welcome North of the Border

by on July 4, 2010

In the aftermath of Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration legislation, I think its safe to say you won’t see many Mexican tourists at the Grand Canyon this summer (although they aren’t being ignored). When the government passes a law that restricts, or eliminates completely, access to a target audience, it can cause big problems for local businesses.  As the spirit of the law really discourages Mexican travel into all American states, the problem isn’t restricted to Arizona. The impact felt could be significant as it is estimated that Mexican consumers spend $6 billion in San Diego County annually.

Don't let Arizona's legislation discourage your Mexican consumer base.

Creating a strategy to overcome this problem and connect the communities on both sides of the border is a prime opportunity to showcase the unique capabilities of social media tools, particularly with the opportunity to integrate tools like Google Translate, which are becoming more and more useful. Given the current situation, and the apparent failure to communicate, opening up a conversation between Americans and Mexicans near the border might be productive and perhaps both groups would realize they have more in common with each other than they realize.

Unfortunately, although Mexico has a substantial number of internet users, as has been discussed in previous posts on this blog, the users have yet to create affinity groups, like mommy bloggers here in the US, and are predominantly “personal” users. While they do seek out blogs dedicated to particular topics, they largely aren’t authored by Mexican internet users. Of course, if the cause is one that Mexicans feel strongly about, it is possible that they’d be motivated to change their online behavior. Certainly, since we are PR professionals and changing behavior is our bread and butter, this could be achieved.

The first initial hurdle, though, is bringing Mexican citizens into the conversation. As this situation suggests, the best way to connect with Mexican consumers is to speak their language (a tactic used well by President Obama as he courted the citizens of Puerto Rico in his campaign). In this case, not sharing a language has factored into a massive failure to communicate. I believe that ultimately, being able to eliminate the language barrier and foster communication between this two groups will be a great step forward for social media tools, and will assist in further integrating these two communities. Hopefully, someone is already putting this campaign into action.

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From → Mexico

One Comment
  1. You raise several interesting points here about the language barrier, the nature of personal use of social media versus big affinity groups and lay out an opportunity for social media to help bridge the gap. As you probably know, the idea of having automated translation is often criticized by people for having incomplete or incoherent translations. There is also the question of what type of content you might actually be able to translate most effectively. That said, when you pointed to the San Diego economy, where I felt you were headed was perhaps a way that San Diego might use social media and even automated translation to run an “at least we’re not Arizona” style campaign where they could still attract Mexicans to their state despite the negativity around Arizona. I liked your concept of using social media to bridge the gap, but you needed a stronger example of how that might happen and who could actually do it to complete this post. (4)

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