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One door closes (read more here), but am sure another one will open. The time I had with Al Jazeera America was indeed amazing. The people I have met at “The Stream” have quickly become family to me.

Now it’s time to forge ahead. If you know of any good opportunities for someone of my background, please feel free to let me know here or tweet me @julito77.

Check out my VISUAL CV. Download it if you want.

Connect with me on LinkedIn. Friend me on Facebook. And while you’re here, check out one of my Stream appearances for Al Jazeera English:

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We thought it would happen, but we didn’t think it would happen three days before the end of the month, but this afternoon LatinoRebels.com (a site run and administered a dedicated group of about 20 social media influentials that is dedicated to alternative media, opinion, commentary, politics, Latino culture, history, analysis, comedy, independent journalism, blogging, music, and general mayhem) eclipsed 100,000 pageviews (and over 50,000 unique visitors) in the month of March. It is the first time our company has reached this number in a month’s worth of traffic. The 100,000 pageviews in March also eclipsed our total traffic of 2011, from when we launched the site on May 5, 2011 until December 31. Here is a screen capture from our Google Analytics:

To everyone who has read us, THANK YOU. Our latest web rankings today also pushed our Alexa ranking into the following numbers, making us one of the top (if not, the top) independently-owned Latino media websites in the US (and we won’t complain about our global ranking either). We are entering our last month before our one-year anniversary and we feel that 2012 will be another banner year. Crazy.

So how do we feel today about our latest news? Hit it, House of Pain.

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A year hasn’t even gone by since LatinoRebels.com launched on May 5, 2011 and the merry and mischievous band of social media influentials who formed together to create a site that spoke to their world through comedy, commentary, analysis, activism, politics, social media, music, and independent journalism has become one of the country’s (and now the world’s) top independent sites for US Latino content, news, issues, and just general mayhem. In just 10 months, some very cool and very amazing things have happened. Here are just a few, and yes, we will have more to share on May 5, 2012, when LatinoRebels.com turns 1:

  • As of tonight March 26, 2012, according to our Google Analytics, LatinoRebels.com has gotten over 176,000 unique vistors, with over 220,000 visits and over 317,000 pageviews. We still have about six weeks until we complete our first year online, and we feel that we are on target to complete over 250,000 uniques and 400,000 page views in our first year of existence.
  • As of March 20, 2012, we have already exceeded our total 2011 traffic. In other words, all the traffic we got from May, 2011 until December 2011 (eight months), we exceeded that number in less than three months in 2012. We have experienced about a 240% increase in our traffic in the last two months, and this week alone (March 19-March 26) we have gotten over 15,000 unique visitors and over 25,099 pageviews. In addition, with just five days left in March, we are on target to achieving 100,000 pageviews and over 50,000 unique visitors. Spread over a year, that would come out to 1.2 million pageviews and 600,000 unique visitors. Those figures were just pipe dreams, now we are in the running to achieve that goal.
  • Our current Alexa ranking for March 26, 2012 is this:

  • Compete.com is another site we use, besides our own Google Analytics and WordPress stats and this is what they list the page at as of February, 2012. According to Compete.com, we say a 12.16% increase in unique visitors from January 2012 to February 2012 and we are currently ranked 181,304 in the world, having moved up another 29,254 slots up the rankings in just one month.

  • According to Quantcast, which we activated for our site on March 9, 2012 (so we don’t have a full month’s worth of data), these are our current rankings and daily traffic for last week as of tonight:

To all who have been there with us from the very beginning, thank you. This amazing growth took some luck but it also shows that if you write good content, stay true to yourself and independent, use social media and authentic networking and relationship-building to complement your page’s goal, and curate content that you feel matters to your community, you will attract interest. We will continue to be who we are, even if we just had one reader (or even if we had no readers). However, we are not going to lie about this: this feels pretty good. The Rebeldes thank you all!

Independent journalism and content creation lives. We are proud to be Rebeldes.

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One of the most amazing facts about Facebook is that Latinos are everywhere. Our friend Gus Razzetti offers some serious analysis about why this demographic is so strong on social media’s top platform. He writes:

Not so long ago, recommending digital marketing to target Latinos was a very uncomfortable conversation to have with a client. Fortunately, those days seem to be over. Supported by strong research, clients are more familiar with the growing importance of digital among Hispanics (social media, mobile, etc). As part of that (now easier) conversation, Hispanics and social media is becoming one of the hottest topics.

And clients are right. In just one year, as the total Latinos online audience grew 16 percent, the number of Latinos on Facebook grew 2.8 times. In March 2011, the amount of Hispanic Facebook users reached almost 22 million. That is, 70.2 percent of all Latinos online are active Facebook users versus 29.1 percent one year before.

We are seeing not only reach but true engagement. Latinos spend more time on Facebook: 52 percent of Hispanics use Facebook at least weekly, spending an average of 29 minutes on social networking versus White Americans who spend 19 minutes.

While major brands like Univision (latest stats as of March 10, 2012: 316,187 likes with a 7% Facebook level of engagement), Telemundo (227, 351 likes with a 10% FLOE) and Mun2 (158,608 likes with a 3.2% FLOE) have strong and active Facebook communities, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of independent Latino Facebook Fan Pages that have achieved impressive results. Also, artists like Calle 13 are on another level in terms of likes, but their FLOE is still low (900,775 likes/3.5% FLOE).

Here are some of the pages we have seen in terms of raw fan numbers. (all stats taken on March 10, 2012). It is not meant to be an exhaustive list, and if you would like to have your page added to our next report, just comment on this post with your Facebook URL. However, what is interesting to note is that a key metric in all this now is FLOE. Raw numbers are good, yet any brand that is constantly engaging its community on a consistent level is creating more active and interested communities. Like we tell our clients all the time, you can have all the people in the world following you, but if you don’t have people talking about you, those numbers mean nothing.

A good Facebook page, in our opinion, should achieve a consistent 10% FLOE for over three months to really impact fans and increase brand loyalty. Facebook Fan Pages are a dime a dozen these days, and unless you aren’t engaging with your fans and they aren’t engaging (both in good ways and not so good ways), you are basically talking just to yourself and your inner circle. You don’t capitalize on how you can use social media and your investment in it to actually convert your strategy into business growth (if indeed that is your goal but in the end, we can all agree that everyone wants to be noticed as a group, brand, organization). How you make your audience get more engaged takes consistency, good content, true curation (it’s never about YOU, it is always about THEM), and just old-fashioned hard work. Anyone can get someone to like a page, it is what you do with it after that and how you support similar pages and communities that matter. Brands that are serious about engaging a very active Latino Facebook community need to understand that big numbers need to be tended to, like one tends to a garden. Patience, dedication, authenticity, and support. Then you get engaged loyal followers.

Here is an initial list of pages we have seen and either follow or are aware of. Again, if you would like to have your page added to our next study, post your like at the bottom of this post. Our goal is to eventually have a list of about 200 Latino Facebook Fan Pages that we will track FLOE every month. The reason we are doing this? To show our world a clearer real-time picture of where to find this coveted demographic on Facebook and who is engaging and interacting with brands, groups, and organizations at a given time.

Mexican Word of the Day:  1,222, 339 likes/2.4% FLOE

So Mexican:  561,107 likes/10.4% FLOE

Latinos in Social Media (LATISM):  135,360 likes/1.6% FLOE

Cuéntame: 74, 587 likes/2.2% FLOE

American Latino Museum: 69,981/3.9% FLOE

Being Latino: 68,336 likes/6.7% FLOE

Fox News Latino: 41,391 likes/3% FLOE

Other similar pages (one of which I founded last spring) continue to emerge and appear. It is clear that the Latino Facebook page is now getting traction. Here are some other pages:

Voto Latino: 13,107 likes/7.6% FLOE

Latino Rebels: 12,546 likes/25.7% FLOE (my group’s Facebook page)

Remezlca:  9,236 likes/7.6% FLOE

News Taco: 3,794 likes/10.8% FLOE

Gozamos: 3,445 likes/7.7% FLOE

Univision News: 2,918 likes/12.5% FLOE

NBC Latino: 1,514 likes/16.5% FLOE

Pocho.com: 1,056 likes/16.7% FLOE

Pa’lante Latino1,078 likes/10.5% FLOE

Tu Vez: 494 likes/22.4% FLOE

So, here is the list in terms of FLOE, to determine a real-time picture of who is engaging people on Facebook. The key is that if you keep staying engaged and keep your FLOE around 10% at all times, as you grow your fan base, you will grow your reach. Of course, once you get into the really big numbers, your FLOE loses its impact since then it truly becomes a numbers game. 60,000 engaged followers is still 60,000 engaged followers, no matter what your FLOE is. But even so, if you did achieve that number, wouldn’t it be cooler to get that number up to 120,000 with just a more consistent social media strategy?

  1. Latino Rebels: 25.7% FLOE
  2. Tu Vez: 22.4% FLOE
  3. Pocho.com: 16.7% FLOE
  4. NBC Latino: 16.5% FLOE
  5. Univision News: 12.5% FLOE
  6. News Taco: 10.8% FLOE
  7. Pa’lante Latino10.5% FLOE
  8. So Mexican:  10.4% FLOE
  9. Gozamos: 7.7% FLOE
  10. Remezlca:  7.6% FLOE
  11. Voto Latino: 7.6% FLOE
  12. Being Latino: 6.7% FLOE
  13. American Latino Museum: 3.9% FLOE
  14. Fox News Latino: 3% FLOE
  15. Mexican Word of the Day:  2.4% FLOE
  16. Cuéntame: 2.2% FLOE
  17. Latinos in Social Media (LATISM):  1.6% FLOE

That is the challenge Latino Facebook Pages face, and our hope is to have everyone we know accept that challenge and grow together. Let’s make 2012 and beyond the Year of True Engagement and Relationship Building.

Remember, add your Facebook URL page here if you want to be added to the next study.

NEXT WEEK: We will study Twitter and other newer cool social platforms like Pinterest, Tumblr, Storify, and others.

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In this crazy world that is social media, you just keep doing and blogging and connecting and sharing. Since this blog was started in 2009, the goals were clear: to practice independent journalism, to write about the social media world of US Latinos, to celebrate #LatinoLit, to shout out the world about the great Fernando Varela (he is my brother, why wouldn’t I?), to share my writings, and to inform readers about the crazy topsy-turvy world of Puerto Rican politics. This is the world of this blog and it is a world that speaks to my world. In short, this blog is my personal world and I am humbled by all the people who have come into this world, all the people who have commented here (both the good and the bad), and all the people I have met and have become part of my familia.

Yesterday, I was greeted with some very cool news: a nomination for the inaugural Social Revolución event at SXSWi in Austin. To the angels who submitted the nomination (and I think I know who those angels were), thank you. GRACIAS MIL.

This whole world of Latino social media is bigger than any of us. Want to know why we are becoming a force? Because many of us started TOGETHER in 2008 and CONNECTED AUTHENTICALLY. We all shared the same vision. We all believed in the future, and more importantly: we all helped each other. When there was a blog someone wanted to share, we shared it. When someone had good news to post, we posted it. When people wanted their links tweeted, we tweeted. We are all in this together, and when we realize that each one of us can add our “little grain of sand” to the larger vision, we will become a powerhouse. The point is this: no one, no one is better than anyone else on the Internet. Once you have a page, a profile, a Twitter presence, etc., you are just as powerful as any other page on the Web. What you decide to do with that and how you want to present yourself is what matters.

My philosophy is a simple one: always be giving. Always be yourself. Always be authentic. Help people with no expectations. Do what you do for the right intentions and demand better. Use your blog, webpage, social media profiles to create real relationships and connect with like-minded people. Share your opinions respectfully and defend yourself when you have to with grace. When you make mistakes, just say you goofed. Be humble and admit your errors. Try to improve the next time. But never ever get caught up in the medium or in the numbers. If you don’t like something, say it. If you love something, say it too! I have said that from day 1 in 2008 and it still resonates with me every day.

Peace to all. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for supporting this blog and the Rebels. Let me know how I can help YOU in any way. You know where to find me.

Julito77

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Some time around 6pm EST on Thursday January 12, one of the many people who support Latino Rebels, a media and digital agency that I had formed with about 20 other amazing people last April, posted the following picture on our private group page that we use to share ideas and posts to consider for the company’s several social media networks.

I immediately reacted. After years of reading countless posts and articles about the entire immigration debate in the United States, this photo captured EXACTLY what I felt about it.

So, as an admin for the Latino Rebels Facebook page, I posted the photo, just like all the hundreds of provocative photos we have posted in the past. You see, the purpose of why the Rebels were formed was simple: provide people with content that makes you think, tosses conventions upside down, and then we see what happens. At LR.com and all our other social media channels, we post A LOT of content. It is varied, sometimes silly, sometimes serious, but the essence of what we do is always clear: we just want people to react, whether they like what we post or no.

Just 30 seconds after the photo was uploaded, we had already gotten 5 likes. Within a minute it was 15. 64 hours later, we reached the following number as of this posting on Sunday night:

Yes, you read it right: we have gotten 31,657 likes and 28,083 shares. Safe to say that this photo resonated, both with people who believe in true immigration reform for this country and those who have a different view. (SIDENOTE: If you are the person who actually passed this picture on to one of our supporters, please let us know? We got some cold beers waiting!)

Furthermore, the Latino Rebels Facebook page gained over 6,500 new fans in the last 48 hours (almost reaching 10,000), tripling the number of fans we had on January 11. The response from the vast majority of our new fans to our Facebook page has been highly positive, but what this instant organic growth caused was something that we never expected: we had to explain ourselves to all these new fans and explain ourselves quickly.

All of a sudden, people from all over the world wanted to know who we were, what we believed in, what was our mission. They wanted answers and they wanted them NOW. Where did you guys come from? What is your angle? And why do you post so many stories? Don’t you know that you are spamming me?

It took us about a day to take all this ultra-rapid growth and understand what to do with it. Our decision was easy: we stay true to our core mission—we post information daily and organically on Facebook. We go with the flow of the day and the feel of the community. If a big story is happening, we might post more. And if we just want to post music, we do that too. We don’t think about the BEST WAY to operate on Facebook. We just DO IT, and let the community decide. That will not change and by staying true to who we are (unless our community tells us differently), we did the following:

  • Posted a core mission statement in English.
  • Then because about 60% of our growth was coming from Latin America, we posted our core mission in Spanish.
  • We made a decision to post more in Spanish.
  • We reminded ourselves that the REAL HUB of our company is LatinoRebels.com and not our Facebook site. Facebook is just a channel of the company’s many channels. LR.com is the HUB and in the last 9 days, that hub has seen over 20,000 unique visits, pushing us over the 100,000 mark in just 9 months of launching the site.
  • We told people who didn’t like our style to just not follow us. Unlike us. It doesn’t bother us. We cannot be all things to all people, and we all felt strongly that if we twisted in the wind every time someone gave a suggestion to run our pages, we would lose our company soul. So we kindly told these few critics that there are gazillion pages on the Internet, if you don’t like our style, you can leave. Just respect us as you walk out the door, we would do the same.
  • Our philosophy is simple: never ever worry about having people unfollow you or losing numbers. In the end, the obsession with numbers and stats on social media is not why we do this. That is for the brands that think that numbers equal engagement and brand loyalty. It doesn’t. You know how you win people over? By connecting with them, by sharing their content, by asking them how you can help them. THIS IS NEVER ABOUT YOU, IT IS ABOUT THEM. We have been doing this every day for months, with no agendas and no master plan that would lead us to somewhere else. We have truly grown organically, reflecting the power of social media. Of course, our goal is to make the company successful, but our money is made not through our fans or the ads we would peddle to them (which we don’t). We make our money by working with our clients to replicate what we do on our content pages. That is what makes us different: our content and how we share that content is our agency model. Great content attracts audience. And that attracts engagement, which then attracts connections that will last for a long time.
UPDATE: Facebook just posted our analytics for last week and we will let the data speak for itself:

So to all the new fans and new likes and new shares, thanks. We are also aware that this type of unprecedented growth for us will not last. Someone else will post another picture and the likes will go somewhere else. We just hope that the motives are honorable and for the right reasons. We have never been a big fan of having brands try to generate social media buzz by selling their product through social media campaigns. I personally don’t want to be sold on the Internet, I just want to BE. Let ME decide what I want to do online, and if once in a while, I shout out a brand or work with a brand, it is because I believe in the brand.

Also, we never came into this company to increase our traffic quickly. It just happened because we got lucky. (And guess what? You can get lucky too.) The wave the Rebels are riding right now has been so much fun. It has forced us to refine our strategy and explore new partnerships for growth It has made us a better company.

¡Que vivan los Rebeldes! Long live the Rebels! You know who you are.

And to the entire Facebook community, thanks for the love!

UPDATE, 4:55 EST: The latest analytics are in from Facebook. Are you kidding me? Crazy.

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The Latino Rebels are proud to announce that two of its members earned nominations from Latinos in Social Media (#LATISM) community as some of the Best Latinos in social media for 2011. Efrain Nieves, co-founder of P’Alante Latino and a regular contributor to this page, is up for the Best Political Blogger category. Latino Rebels founder, Julio Ricardo Varela, was nominated in the Best Latin@ Micro-Blogger category.

To vote for Efrain and Julito, go to this link: LATISM 2011 Nominees. Voting will continue until October 30, and winners will be announced at the LATISM 2011 awards ceremony during the LATISM annual conference in Chicago.

In addition, Julito’s brother, the amazing Fernando Varela, earned a Best Artist to Use Social Media  to Reach to Latinos. Fernando joins musical legends Willie Colón and Juanes in this category.

Don’t forget to vote!!! Here is the link: LATISM 2011 Nominees.

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