If you want your company’s brands to make 100,000 “friends” on Facebook, Tatiana Hansell can show you how.

As Unilever’s Multicultural Marketing Manager of personal care products, Hansell developed its Vivemejor branded content initiative for Latina women online. First, she launched its Spanish-language website, ViveMejor.com, which provides helpful cooking and beauty tips for Latina moms. Today, with the explosion of social media, Vive Mejor, which means “Live Better” in English, distributes its content across the major social sites: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Vive Mejor recently just surpassed 140,000 fans (as of the publication of this article) on its Facebook page, making it one of the largest Spanish-language communities on Facebook catering to U.S. Hispanics. And after only three weeks in market, the @Vivemejor Twitter page amassed more than 10,000 followers.

With consumers fast forwarding past TV ads with DVR’s (digital video recorders), some smart marketers, like Unilever, have developed editorial websites that are findable on search engines and “like”-able on Facebook, to provide helpful and interesting content for their target audience, wherever they want to read it. In essence, they have become media companies, all in order to develop trust and a closer connection with consumers online.

A recent study from the Custom Content Council and ContentWise showed that spending on branded content among the top 100 US marketers grew to an all-time high of $1,914,000 per company. The number one reason why marketers use branded content, according to the study, is to educate customers, while the second is consumer retention. Leading marketers oftentimes find branded content initiatives surpass the effectiveness of other tactics like public relations, direct mail, and magazine advertising, according to the study.

“Unilever understood that there was a gap in high-quality content relevant to their brands and to Latina consumers,” says Hansell. “A branded website and Facebook page made sense for two reasons. First, a critical mass of Latinas has become very active on social media. Second, publishing content digitally is extremely efficient, quantifiable and flexible.”

We launched Vivemejor® in 2007 to provide Latina moms with relevant, practical and interactive resources including food, home and beauty tips, as well as family-related solutions that enrich their lives,” says Hansell. “It represents the first time that Unilever brought its food and personal care brands together in one marketing effort for Hispanic consumers, in-language.The company’s well-known brands like Dove, Hellmann’s, POND’S, and Ragú all pooled their resources together for this Latino content initiative.

Hansell recruited five food and beauty mavens to develop videos and articles for Vive Mejor, including: Leonardo Rocco, a celebrity hair stylist, Dr. Janice Lima-Maribona, a board certified dermatologist and beauty expert, Julie Pope, a professional hair stylist and makeup artist, Lourdes Castro, a chef and nutritionist, and Ema Quevedo, a chef and Unilever Kitchens consultant.

A 2010 study from Forrester Research, “Social Media is Mainstream for Online Hispanics” confirmed that Unilever was on the right track. It reported that, “Hispanics, compared with non-Hispanics, have cultural values that are much more centered around family, friends, and social connections, which makes social media a natural fit for this segment once online. Hispanic consumers continue to lead the general market in online social behaviors.”

Hansell and her team find that culturally relevant open-ended questions tend to illicit the highest level of engagement. To measure results, they analyze engagement metrics across their digital platform, including fan growth, likes, comments and website performance as well as qualitative measures like the sentiment of the feedback they receive. And of course, one huge benefit to social media sites like Facebook is that it’s much easier for friends to exchange information with one another online.

Speaking of sharing, what brands do you know that have successfully launched custom content initiatives for Latinos? Tell us who on Twitter @FoxNewsLatino and @JoeKutchera.

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