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Archive for April, 2013


Before I start, I was really happy to see so many familiar faces and people who made the Forbes’ list of 2013 Social Media Power Users. People like Ted Rubin, Chris Brogan, Ann Handley, Jessica Northey, Aaron Lee, Mari Smith, Calvin Lee, Jeff Bullis, Gary Vaynerchuk, etc. are all amazing people, and I am really happy to see them get listed.

However, the overall list sadly lacks in diversity, and it specifically ignores well-known and established Latino Power Users. Again. It is becoming a common and disturbing trend, one that needs to stop.

The author of the piece, Haydn Shaughnessy, could have clearly dug a little deeper when it comes to “influence.” Yes, he established his criteria through Peek Analytics, with the assumption that this is all about “reach.” (By the way, my Peek is 327.) That is only part of the full picture. Reach only takes you so far. It is the quality of your reach that matters. For example, my company Latino Rebels has become a go-to source for many members of the national media. Our community is highly loyal and highly engaged, and it serves a demographic (bilingual, bicultural young Latinos) that is the new “hot” demo. How do you measure that influence? By a Peek score? Or by people who come to your site and social media networks every day, who want to engage you and want to support you? The real Power User builds lasting relationships, and while many of the 2013 Forbes Power Users listed do follow that course, many others on the list do not. And that is why the list fails, in my opinion.

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So I ask again: where are the Latino Power Users? Does Shaughnessy not know about Latism or Hispanicize? Does he not know about Elianne Ramos (the Latism Reina) or Laura Gómez (the first Latina at Twitter)? These are just two very specific examples of Power Users who have earned the respect, love, and credibility of the Latino digital community. I could also give Shaughnessy about 20-30 names, but I wonder if he even read this opinion piece from the HuffPost that speaks to how Latinos just can no longer be ignored in the social space:

Latinos, who have been recorded as the group with the highest rate of early adopters are continuously embracing technology faster than any other demographic in the United States.

According to a report by Pew Internet and American Life Project, 18 percent of Latinos online are Twitter users, a greater percentage than their counterparts in every other category.

On Facebook, Latinos are also using the social media platform at a higher rate than their counterparts, with 54.2 percent of Latinos online regularly using Facebook, just above non-Latino blacks at 47.7 percent and non-Latino whites at 43 percent, according to marketing company Big Research.

Successful organizations such as United We Dream and Latism have been able to implement positive change within their communities because they not only understand Latinos, they also know how to successfully engage them. To give you an idea of their reach, United We Dream has 4,911 Twitter followers and over 13,000 “Likes” on Facebook, and Latism has over 23,000 Twitter followers and over 150,000 “Likes” on Facebook.

Or did he even read this 2012 report from Nielsen?

Social is another platform where Latinos are especially active and rising in numbers.  During February 2012, Hispanics increased their visits to Social Networks/Blogs by 14 percent compared to February 2011.  Not only are Latinos the fastest growing U.S. ethnic group on Facebook and WordPress.com from a year ago, but also Hispanic adults are 25 percent more likely to follow a brand and 18 percent more likely to follow a celebrity than the general online population.

Do you think that this happens by accident? No. It is because there is a very dynamic and influential group of Latino Power Users who are building real communities each and every day.

I know that many of those 2013 Forbes Power Users understand that the Latino social space is thriving. Last week at Hispanicize in Miami, for example, I ran into one 2013 Power User (and fellow Knick Fan) Ted Rubin, who was at that conference and making serious connections. Because Ted gets it, and he’s nice, too. Latinos are the future of social media, and I won’t accept Shaughnessy’s list for the very simple reason that it only gives you a narrow mainstream view of social media.

Forbes and Shaughnessy failed again by excluding several Latino Power Users on its list. You know why? Because they don’t have a clue about what is really happening in that space, and they have shown no desire to learn more about that space. So they follow the safe choice, because safe is not risky.

I sure hope that one day Shaughnessy actually starts engaging the Latino Power Users more and more. He might learn a thing or two.

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There are so many feelings going through my head after news that Boston City Councilor Felix G. Arroyo announced his candidacy for mayor, making him the first Latino in the city’s history to run for this post.

The strongest feeling, of course, is one of pride and joy. Arroyo is a Boston boricua, the son-in-law of Hector Luis Acevedo, a former mayor of San Juan. Having lived and worked in my adopted home city since 1986, yesterday’s announcement marked another turning point that Boston is indeed a changing city, one that is changing for the better.

Felix Arroyo

I have rarely felt like this during my time in the self-proclaimed Hub of the Universe, since to me, Boston has always been a city of separate neighborhoods that rarely get connected. The city’s ugly racial past of the 1970s, based on a failed social experiment, lingered for a while—yes, even on the Harvard campus in the mid-1980s. There was this unspoken rule in Boston that the city’s neighborhoods should never mix. The city was segregated: Bostonians would converge in the city’s downtown center for work each day, but when it was time to go home, different groups of people when to their different neighborhoods. Don’t cause any problems. Just know your place.

That image of Boston, of course, has changed, especially with the city’s perceptions of Latinos. I have always credited this to the Red Sox. I have been going to Fenway Park since 1986, and as much as I have always loved it, I truly fell madly in love with it when Pedro Martínez started pitching for the team in the late 1990s. The atmosphere whenever Pedro pitched was magical, but it also brought out so many fans who would have never gone to a Red Sox game before Pedro pitched. Spanish conversations became more common in the stands, Dominican flags flew, and when I heard 440’s “Guavaberry” over the stadium’s speakers for the first time, I knew that a another real part of the city, one that was rarely seen inside one of the city’s most beloved gathering places, was starting to show up.

Then, David Ortiz became a legend in 2004, and all of a sudden it was cool to be Latino in Boston. The Big Papi Effect did more for Boston Latinos than almost anything else. We had arrived.

Arroyo’s news is just the latest example. Boston’s Latino population continues to grow rapidly, and it is part of the reason that Boston is now a “majority-minority city,” which means that “53 percent of residents are of a non-white race/ethnicity.” I do believe that Arroyo will attract new Latino voters, no doubt. But don’t take my word for it, I will let my good friend and fellow WGBH Radio contributor Marcela García explain. Last night, Marcela talked Arroyo on WGBH’s “Greater Boston” show.

Arroyo’s bid matters. Is it on the same level as when the city’s Irish population earned their political stripes at the turn of the century, culminating in the mayoral reign of James Michael Curley? I would argue yes. Granted, Arroyo might not win this year (it is going to be a tough race), but if Boston Latinos want to be part of the city’s political structure, they need to start somewhere. Arroyo could be that.

Yes, Marcela is right that Arroyo would be the first person to shun the “first Latino candidate” label, but he will still energize people. And the other guest who disagreed with her, Jarrett Berrios (coincidentally a Harvard classmate of mine), misses the point. The city now had its first Latino candidate for mayor and Latino voters should just worry about the issues and think beyond ethnicity politics? Sorry, Jarrett, that argument doesn’t work. You seriously don’t think that ethnicity politics no longer occurs in Boston? Do I need to bring you to a South Boston union hall to show you that it still does?

Sure, Arroyo still has to prove himself, but let’s put this all into perspective. This is history.

“I am a son of Boston. I love my city. I love Boston. I believe in ­Boston because I know that by working together we can and we will move Boston forward.”

Spoken like a true Bostonian. Who also happens to be Puerto Rican and Latino. To me, that is a winning combination, and no one can kill my buzz this morning.

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