History has shown that immigrants to the United States who share a common language and culture often form social networks to support one another as they adjust to living in a new country. While they settle and raise families, their children share common experiences with a blend of cultural traditions, and often with fluency in two languages. Today, an increasing number of Latinos fall into this category.
For second- and third-generation Latino Americans speaking both Spanish and English, social networking Web sites like MiGente.com offer a place to come together online and meet others who share their language, social experiences, and culture-driven interests. MiGente was launched in 2000 with the tagline "The Power of Latinos." Free to join and use, MiGente features blogs, chats, forums, and music and video sharing.
The MiGente trademark was originally held by Community Connect, the company behind two other ethnic-driven online communities: BlackPlanet.com and AsianAve.com. When Community Connect put its company up for sale in early 2008, RadioOne in New York, stepped up and purchased MiGente for $38 million. Now, InteractiveOne, a division of RadioOne, actively develops and maintains MiGente.com. While InteractiveOne describes its primary mission as engaging and empowering African Americans, its development of MiGente likely benefits from the company's experience providing positive social networking for a minority culture.
Go on to the next section to read about the features of the MiGente Web site and how you can be part of the community.
MiGente offers free access to all of its social networking features. Anyone visiting the site can use MiGente to read news headlines, listen to music and watch posted videos. Though MiGente targets a bilingual audience, the site controls are entirely in English. Only some content is in Spanish, such as news articles and music.
As with other social networking Web sites, the point of joining MiGente is to interact with others. You can customize your home page and participate in forums and chat rooms. When you want to meet people and socialize based on a common interest, you can join or create a group centered on that interest. Each group has its own forum for interacting with the group.
Your MiGente profile includes your photos, videos, blog, friends list and guestbook. When you click "My Page" to view your home page, you can see what your profile looks like to others when they click to view your information from anywhere on the site. You can also post ongoing status messages, a form of micro-blogging, so that other members can follow your current thoughts or activities.
Music at MiGente is contributed by both professionals and by members just wanting to share their art. You can search and browse artists, rate music, comment on artists and you can even become a fan of the artists you like. You can also create your own artist profile to share your music with others visiting MiGente.
MiGente has three focused social networks within its main site. You can access these sites from links in the MiGente menu at the top of every page:
- MiGenteAmore is a dating service.
- MiGenteProfessionals is a professional networking service.
- MiGente Jobs uses services from Monster.com to manage your job search.
MiGente follows the trend of some other social network Web sites offering fun interactive features that help break the ice between members. MiGente has a game for rating other members' photos for "hotness," and a feature for "secretly admiring" other members. You can also add widgets like polls and games to your MiGente home page.
Some social networking sites provide incentives for users to entice them to use the various features on the Web site. MiGente has a points system: You earn points by doing certain things at the site, and you can redeem your points to add more site features. For example, when you complete your initial member profile and upload a photo for it, you earn 325 points. Then, you could redeem 100 of those points for one month of a "Get Noticed" highlight in member searches.
Continue to the next section to read about the benefits, competitors and downsides of MiGente.
Benefits of MiGente
The primary benefit of MiGente is its focus on the Latino audience. Like other culture-focused online communities, MiGente brings together people with a common cultural background and similar societal challenges. The Web site content fits the target demographic, with sponsors providing news and products most relevant to Latinos in the United States. From there, MiGente's members self-select interests in music and style, which are often influenced by members' culture and experience.
In April 2009, InteractiveOne started a three-year partnership with Terra USA, a leading producer of digital content with a primary focus on American Latinos. The new alliance allows the partners to cross-market and cross-sell between their audiences. MiGente members benefit from this partnership because the Web site includes news from Terra Networks, featuring articles in both English and Spanish.
Besides Terra Networks, you can see other site sponsorship through banner ads at MiGente.com. These ads are provided through DoubleClick, a Google-owned marketing company based in New York that serves many social networking Web sites. While such banner ad networks save time and marketing resources for sites like MiGente, the ads that appear may not always align with the target audience of the Web site.
Competitors for MiGente include other social network sites that offer targeted features for Latino members. Some well-established general audience sites like Facebook offer some features to network with other Latinos, or they offer a Spanish version of their entire site. However, the primary competitors for the English-language MiGente are the bilingual social networking sites like QuePasa and Vostu, and music networking sites like Cyloop.
MiGente does have issues not unlike those of other social network Web sites. Security for your personal information is always a concern with sites like MiGente, especially when the site doesn't provide encryption for you when you log in. MiGente does address the problem of phishing, though, with the option to create a security badge that always appears on the site when you access it from the same Web browser. Beyond securing your session, though, you must still determine on a member-by-member basis who you think is authentic and trustworthy, especially if you share a lot of personal information or plan to meet offline.
Latinos comprise an increasing portion of the U.S. population, with more than half of them regularly using the Internet. Likewise, Latino culture and people are making an increased impact on overall U.S. culture. With this growth, online social networking among Latinos is likely to climb, and social networks like MiGente are poised for continued success.
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Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- BBC News. "Latino culture sweeps across US." Nov. 5, 2003. (July 23, 2009) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3238523.stm
- Diaz, Cyntia Barrera. "For U.S. Hispanics, Web Options Multiply." Puerto Rico Herald. Aug. 22, 2001. (July 22, 2009) http://www.puertorico-herald.org/issues/2001/vol5n36/USHispWebOptions-en.html
- Fox, Susannah and Livingston, Gretchen. "Latinos Online." Pew Internet. March 14, 2007. (July 22, 2009) http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2007/Latinos-Online.aspx
- Frommer, Dan. "BlackPlanet Parent Community Connect Sells To Radio One For $38 Million." The Business Insider. April 11, 2008. (July 23, 2009) http://www.businessinsider.com/2008/4/blackplanet-parent-community-connect-sells-to-radio-one-for-38-million
- InteractiveOne. "Terra USA Joins Forces with Interactive One to Provide the Largest Social Offering to U.S. Hispanics." April 13, 2009. (July 22, 2009)http://www.interactiveone.com/article_04.php