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This is happening.

Tonight. AGT Finale. Vote here after 10:55 EST. Also you can tweet a vote with “#VoteAgt Forte.”

FORTE with Josh Page, Sean Pannikar and my brother Fernando Varela. Let’s do this!

FORTE in #AGTFinale: Don't Forget to Vote Tonight!

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Ok, hopefully by now, I don’t have to explain much about this little experiment that started in March. But just in case, you can read about the background here. Let’s just get into it. 

Who, among a sample of a few pages, is the most engaging Latino Facebook Page at the beginning of October? Let’s see below. Anything above 15% is really strong. Anything above 40% is outstanding. Anything above 40% is beyond ridiculous and on another level.

Ok, here is the October list (numbers based on page checks on October 1, 2012 from 10:30 am-11:15 am EST; full disclosure: Latino Rebels is my organization. Also, this is just a data capture from a limited time window. We know that the “people talking about this” feature can fluctuate. This is not an exact science, but it does prove that having a highly engaged community will always benefit your brand, organization, group, etc.)

October’s Sampling of Latino Facebook Pages and Their Facebook Level of Engagement (FLOE)

  1. One Voice Radio: 412% (1,106 likes · 4,554 talking about this)
  2. Rico Puerto Rico: 266% (33,984 likes · 90,375 talking about this)
  3. Cultura: 158% (818 likes · 1,293 talking about this)
  4. Latino Rebels: 57.1% (21,739 likes · 12,213 talking about this)
  5. NBC Latino: 56.3% (18,394 likes · 10,667 talking about this)
  6. Fit Latina: 52.4% (1,504 likes · 787 talking about this)
  7. National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts: 48.5% (1,970 likes · 956 talking about this)
  8. Pa’lante Latino: 40% (1,875 likes · 750 talking about this)
  9. Presente.org: 39.7% (10,514 likes · 4,175 talking about this)
  10. So Mexican: 28.5% (1,592,875 likes · 454,152 talking about this)
  11. Pocho.com: 26.5% (2,540 likes · 648 talking about this)
  12. Es el momento: 26.3% (12,889 likes · 3,386 talking about this)
  13. VOXXI: 25.9% (9,673 likes · 2,505 talking about this)
  14. Cuéntame: 24.3% (85,763 likes · 20,850 talking about this)
  15. SoLatina: 23.5% (62,533 likes · 14,701 talking about this)
  16. Sofrito for Your Soul: 23% (9,425 likes · 2,172 talking about this)
  17. Voto Latino: 17.4% (50,834 likes · 8,848 talking about this)
  18. Despierta América: 16.8% (129,883 likes · 21,860 talking about this)
  19. SpanglishBaby: 16.7% (6,596 likes · 1,104 talking about this)
  20. Latino Justice: 14.3% (2,574 likes · 368 talking about this)
  21. Being Puerto Rican: 13.6% (21,642 likes · 2,948 talking about this)
  22. Think Mexican: 13.4% (5,322 likes · 717 talking about this)
  23. El Diario NY: 11.2% (7,398 likes · 826 talking about this)
  24. Disney World Latino: 11% (91,755 likes · 10,102 talking about this)
  25. Latina Bloggers Connect: 10.5% (1,953 likes · 205 talking about this)
  26. Primer impacto: 10.2% (239,953 likes · 24,566 talking about this)
  27. Gozamos: 9.3% (4,388 likes · 409 talking about this)
  28. HuffPost Latino Voices: 9.1% (8,054 likes · 736 talking about this)
  29. Being Latino: 8.4% (78,329 likes · 6,569 talking about this)
  30. Latina Mom Bloggers: 8.3% (1,368 likes · 114 talking about this)
  31. Remezcla: 8.2% (11,654 likes · 959 talking about this)
  32. Hispanically Speaking News: 7.5% (3,069 likes · 229 talking about this)
  33. People en español: 7.1% (180,811 likes · 12,583 talking about this)
  34. Los Pichy Boys: 7.1% (14,583 likes · 1,036 talking about this)
  35. Hispanicize: 7% (4,936 likes · 345 talking about this)
  36. Cosmo for Latinas: 7% (8,995 likes · 627 talking about this)
  37. Proud to Be Latina: 6.7% (1,702 likes · 114 talking about this)
  38. Univision: 6.5% (573,589 likes · 37,383 talking about this)
  39. CNN en español: 6.3% (1,167,362 likes · 73,297 talking about this)
  40. The Big Tino: 5.8% (62,847 likes · 3,629 talking about this)
  41. Calle 13: 5.2% (1,366,776 likes · 71,570 talking about this)
  42. Mayo Clinic (Español): 5% (1,911 likes · 95 talking about this)
  43. Ford en español: 4.8% (1,764 likes · 85 talking about this)
  44. Telemundo: 4.4% (341,016 likes · 14,849 talking about this)
  45. National Council of La Raza: 4.3% (20,089 likes · 871 talking about this)
  46. Latina List: 3.7% (3,037 likes · 111 talking about this)
  47. Pitbull: 3.6% (23,697,661 likes · 860,310 talking about this)
  48. Mun2: 3.6% (235,965 likes · 8,581 talking about this)
  49. Ask a Mexican: 3.3% (36,955 likes · 1,202 talking about this)
  50. Univision News: 3% (7,133 likes · 214 talking about this)
  51. News Taco: 3% (4,313 likes · 128 talking about this)
  52. Mamiverse: 2.9% (19,106 likes · 560 talking about this)
  53. La Cosmopolitana: 2.8% (1,331 likes · 37 talking about this)
  54. Mexican Word of the Day: 2.7% (1,310,759 likes · 35,909 talking about this)
  55. Vitera: 2.4% (4,564 likes · 108 talking about this)
  56. Somos Verizon Fios: 2.3% (45,952 likes · 1,052 talking about this)
  57. Latina: 2.1% (72,971 likes · 1,500 talking about this)
  58. Fox News Latino: 2.1% (67,728 likes · 1,443 talking about this)
  59. New Latina: 2.1% (4,498 likes · 96 talking about this)
  60. Immigrant Archive Project: 2% (12,138 likes · 247 talking about this)
  61. Papi Blogger: 1.6% (825 likes · 13 talking about this)
  62. El Gordo y la Flaca: 1.2% (319,364 likes · 3,849 talking about this)
  63. American Latino Museum: 1.1% (121,169 likes · 1,279 talking about this)
  64. Latinos in Social Media: .09% (143,490 likes · 1,249 talking about this)
  65. Selena Gómez: .08% (33,732,351 likes · 280,406 talking about this)
  66. Shakira:  .07% (54,626,349 likes · 368,018 talking about this)
  67. Toyota Latino: .06% (75,201 likes · 414 talking about this)
  68. Mi Casa Broadcasting: .06% (3,868 likes · 26 talking about this)

If you would like me to add your page to this list, just let me know with a comment to this blog.

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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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We get very excited when our dear friends have great news to share and in the case of Adrian Carrasquillo (@RealAdrianC on Twitter), today marks a time to celebrate a very cool accomplishment for him and @NBCLatino. They are going social, and we wish them all the best! We asked Adrian to share his thoughts about the essence of NBC Latino. Here they are:

“I’m happy to announce that we’ve launched the NBC Latino social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. Social is one of the pillars of our vision. We come nowhere near our mission unless we have the pulse of our community. But we wanted to do it right. Now that we’ve worked to hone our editorial voice we feel we are ready to launch social.

We want to appeal to Hispanics who feel that there has been something missing from Latino news. Our hope is that by immersing ourselves in the community and elevating what we all see as the Latino news conversation, we will better reflect the nuance, richness and depth of the U.S. Latino experience.

I subscribe to the theory that the most precious resource on the Internet is the time and attention of readers. You can’t survive in 2012 by expecting people to type in the URL to your website. Since 25 percent of all online trips in the U.S. end up on Facebook and Twitter and have become the online town square, I want us to tap into the vast Hispanic online community and present content that is fun, fresh, inspired and smart on the platforms where they already are.

I’ve come to know, respect and admire a lot of people in the Latino space in the last year and a half — from influencers and bloggers to amazing people furthering Hispanic initiatives through the social community. We want to continue to tell important stories and I want everyone who comes across our content to feel ownership of it. We want to represent them and we want them to keep us honest.

So I invite anyone to email me at adrian.carrasquillo@nbcuni.com or tweet to me @RealAdrianC if they have any questions, comments or concerns. Thanks to everyone who is joining us on this journey. I can speak for everyone at NBC Latino when I say that we’re honored to be in the position to make it with you.”

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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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This is a YouTube video of my brother Fernando Varela’s performance at David Foster and Friends live from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, November 25, 2011. Enjoy!

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