Social Media: A Tool for Cultural Assimilation

Social media has changed the way that people connect with each other. Whether it’s personal or professional, social media platforms allow individuals and businesses to connect and maintain social/business relationships through the exchange of ideas and opinions. Furthermore, social media is also used by immigrant ethnic minorities to absorb social and cultural capital. It is an important factor of culture change, a driver of acculturation strategies, and consumption choices. Immigrant communities make up a large portion of the U.S population. For businesses, it can be beneficial to attract that population and gain their brand loyalty. In this post I will be discussing three ways businesses can market to immigrant ethnic minorities.

First, let’s give some definitions, as it’s important to understand the meanings of assimilation, acculturation, and enculturation. Assimilation is defined as the process of taking in and fully understanding information or ideas. Acculturation is the assimilation to a different culture, typically the dominant one. Enculturation is the gradual acquisition of the characteristics and norms of a culture or group by a person or another culture.

English Isn’t the Only Language

According to research conducted by Hatice Kizgin, purchasing intention is affected by language choices. While the majority of businesses’ social media content is in English, they neglect to include the language of immigrant ethnic minorities. Although there are immigrant consumers who do not wish to maintain their cultural identity and instead use the host culture’s language, there are immigrant consumers who prefer to communicate in their own languages. To attract those immigrant consumers who prefer to use their native languages, it’s important that the businesses understand that target audience and include native languages in the social media content along with English. Ultimately, this will benefit both the businesses and the immigrant consumers.

Don’t be Uncultured

Along with using their native languages, another way to market to immigrant consumers is to develop their trust. How do you develop that trust you might ask. By the language choices demonstrating a recognition and understanding of the immigrant consumers’ home culture. In other words, being culturally relevant. This goes back to researching and understanding your target audience. It can be unattractive in the eyes of the immigrant consumers if the social media content they see is incorrectly portraying their culture. To develop trust and brand loyalty, create culturally relevant content and, by doing so, the brand communicates. A great example of this is when Nike launched their new product, the Nike Women’s Hijab Pro. They understood their target audience and produced a product specifically for them. Nike successfully marketed the product on their social media platforms in an inspiring way.

Photo by nikewomen on Instagram

Provide Opportunities to Learn

The final way to market to immigrant consumers deals with acculturation and the immigrant consumers who want to assimilate into the new culture. In her research article, Dr. Kizgin showed that immigrant consumers use social media to learn habits of consumption. Posting content that provides opportunities to learn about the new culture can be more influential to immigrant communities. Once again, this goes back to researching your target audience and understanding what they want to see on social media. An example of this could be posting content about NFL Sundays. The NFL is a huge part of the American culture. Posting about tailgates and games can be an opportunity for the immigrant consumers to learn about the new culture.

Photo by Anders Krogh Jorgensen on Unsplash

Overall, immigrant consumers use social media just like everyone else, if not more. Social media can influence their buying habits and be a key tool for them to learn about the new culture. It’s a great way for them to easily connect with others and find communities. It’s important for businesses to understand what their target audience wants to see. Whether they need to include the immigrant consumers’ native languages or post content that educates them about the new culture, etc. It ultimately comes back to the research and truly understanding your target audience and marketing to them effectively.

Written by Rachel Nuhfer. You can learn more about Rachel and our other blogwriters by clicking the “Our Team” banner at the top!