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Posts Tagged ‘Chris Brogan’


I knew the moment that I published a video challenging some in the Latino blogosphere to step up its game and be consistent in how we share and produce content when it comes to portrayals of Latinos on television, that I would catch some flak. I knew that my intentions and integrity would be questioned, and that some would see me as a divider and not as a uniter. I seriously thought this all out and the consequences it would bring, but in the end, I felt that I had to say something in public with the hope that we can all have a real dialogue about this.

I still stand by the fact that we do our community a disservice and mislead readers when we as bloggers participate in sponsored campaigns that speak to the “new, fresh” original programming for US Latinos when in fact we are just getting the same old, same old. (In this case, a cop show from Colombia, which leads into a show about a Colombian drug dealer. Five times a week. In primetime.) I also felt that we miss the point when we do solicited reviews that arise from a sponsored campaign and then all the reviews being published about MUNDO FOX’S “Corazones blindados” are highly positive. Who would have thought that every blog I have read from this sponsored campaign has been positive? I have yet to see one negative review. (If there is one, please post a link down here and let me know.)

What is interesting is that now I am getting criticisms for cutting down my colleagues and questioning their ethics. I have already been told that I  don’t have a clue because one blog in question has a clear disclosure policy and all their disclaimers are at the end of a post. I get told about FTC guidelines, not doing my research, and I also get called out for tearing the community down. I have also gotten a few private messages basically telling me that I was irresponsible and divisive. However, I am encouraged by the fact that I am getting more responses from people in private and some in public who have said that this issue should have been brought up. They key to all this is simple: agencies and bloggers can do all the sponsored campaigns they like, but please don’t rope along the community using a sponsored campaign that proudly proclaims that FINALLY something different is here on TV when in fact, it is just more of the same.

Yet, instead of having a real discussion about stereotypes in Latino media, I am now being called unprofessional for not telling the truth about the blogs and disclosure. I am now told that I messed up and that the sponsored posts are not compensated and that I missed the whole point about what a sponsored blog is.

Here is what is wrong about that specific criticism (and I am still waiting to hear about the bigger point being made about Latino stereotypes, which is the main point I made in the video): I still stand by the fact that many influential blogs in the Latino space are not being transparent enough about their disclosures. I also understand that people need to make a living by blogging. I am just suggesting that the disclosures need to go beyond a policy one someone’s page that quite frankly, no one reads anyway when they are reading a post.

Transparency starts with the blogger and the agency that promotes that blogger, and in the end, whenever I am in doubt, I alway ask myself: What would Chris Brogan do? Now, Chris is the first person to tell you that sponsored blogs and getting paid for your posts are good things. And he offers a great link for all bloggers to create their own disclosure policy (by the way, I don’t use a general disclosure policy on this personal blog because when I do, I try to disclose it up front on a post-by-post basis. The same goes for LatinoRebels.com)

However, because Chris is Chris and he always goes out his way to raise the bar, he is extremely clear when his posts are sponsored. For example, look at what he does in this case:

From this one example from Chris, what do we see?

  1. A clear “Sponsored Post” leading the blog title.
  2. A very strong and visible disclaimer that is in a larger font and clear. We know immediately, before we even begin to read the post, that is a post that a brand sponsored for Chris. He also says that his opinions are his own, 100%. In addition, the content of the post is his, original, and he is honest about the review. He also says that the brand suggested he write about certain features, but in the end, Chris just writes his own opinion and lets his review speak for himself.
  3. He goes beyond the FTC guidelines and doesn’t hide from the fact that he is doing a sponsored post.

What Chris does here is set a very simple and honest standard that all bloggers and agencies should aspire to. Instead of vague unclear statements at the end of a post (how many people read disclaimers at the end of a post anyway?), be up front and clear. Don’t assume that people will go click on another tab on your site and take the time to read your 300-word disclaimer policy. And also if you say you are part of a sponsored campaign, explain that before you get into writing your review, and be ready to answer the questions as to why most of the posts in the sponsored campaign are very similar in intent and scope. Learning about the fact after reading a sponsored post you didn’t know was sponsored to begin with only leads to disappointment for your readers and raises ethical issues that may or may not be accurate in your mind, but they still raise questions. Then explaining via comments and messages after the fact only begs the question: why weren’t you up front with it at the post level at the very beginning of the post and follow an example like the one Chris did?

Other questions I think that bloggers should consider regarding sponsored posts:

  • Is this something I really want to promote to my readers? If so, how do I find the right balance between writing for or about a brand and not sacrificing the relationship I have with my readers?
  • What is the intent of the brand or agency? Is their goal just to get the word out to take advantage of what you have worked so hard to build, or are they really sincere in promoting you as well? This relationship is a two-way street, and brands are no longer bigger or better than the blogosphere. They are equals, and will they treat you as such? The most successful campaigns I have been involved with have always allowed the blogger to be independent from what the brand would like you to write about, and yet these same brands have also promoted the blog posts on their own networks and pages. That type of arrangement becomes a true two-way relationship.
  • Do you want to monetize your blog and is working with a brand the best way to go? Have you thought of other ideas, like creating your own products (like t-shirts, books, etc.) or starting your own commerce site of your favorite things where you can become an affiliate and earn a commission? Why do you think you need brands? Seriously ask yourself that question, and be honest with your answer. If you want to write for brands on your personal blog and get compensated for it, then it leads to 100% transparency every time you write about a brand, even when you tweet or share your links to social networks.
  • Why is the benefit to you of establishing a sponsored relationship? Do you need brands to help your blog get more readers or do you want to make a living from blogging? If you do, ask yourself, “What would Chris Brogan do?” That is always a great place to start, because Chris is all about complete transparency.

So I hope this at least gets a real discussion going and allows for more opinions and thoughts to be shared. As for me, I can say the following without hesitation: I have no issue with sponsored posts or campaigns if they are done authentically and with the right intentions. For me, promoting a new Spanish-language channel whose primetime weekly lineup is all about cops, criminals, and drug lords and saying that it is programming worth watching for US Latinos is wrong. Influential blogs need to know that many people are watching and reading them, and this is still a very small and connected community. I know many others feel the same way as I do, and if my mistake was sharing my opinions about what I find to be a misleading practice and not good for the overall representation of the US Latino market, then I will make that same mistake again.

I really hope that we begin to discuss what I feel is a big issue in the Latino blogosphere about sponsored campaigns. As leaders who have been there from the very beginning, promoting a brand that has done little (so far) to advance the portrayal of US Latinos in mainstream media just doesn’t cut it for me. That is not being divisive. It’s just expressing my opinion and wishing that we as a community are more united in our demands for more quality content from mainstream networks.

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Not to get all Fanboy today (will leave that obsession to US Women’s Hottie Goalie Hope Solo), but yesterday was a Social Media MBA day for Julito.

The occasion? A lunch with Chris Brogan, one of the inspirations that we have followed on Twitter and ChrisBrogan.com since the day we started in social media one rainy Boston day in October, 2008.

Chris suggested a very cool BBQ place on Boston’s North Shore (the Firehouse Grill), so an hour after escaping from Boston, we were sitting in nice outdoor patio, sipping cold ones, and sampling some of the best St. Louis ribs around.

Chris Brogan (left) and Julito

Ready for the million dollar takeaways from our lunch, besides the fact that Chris is one of the humblest, nicest, and smartest Internet minds ever? Here goes:

  • The Internet is all about passion. Really, do what you do online because YOU LOVE DOING IT. Find the interest and niches that appeal to you, cultivate them by being 100% authentic, and dive in. If you are doing this for a quick buck or place money in front of your passion, your online life will be challenging and difficult to say the least.
  • Be real. Seriously, be your damn self at all times. Be authentic. Be truthful. Be respectful.
  • Deposit your ego and never look back. Put the ego away and just BE.
  • Be social. Help others. Social media is the biggest freakin community in the world. Stop talking about yourself. Start helping others. Simple as that. And oh yeah, help people with no expectations.
  • Find similar minds. Eventually, if you consistently commit, you will find talented individuals who share your philosophies and visions. And that is the best feeling in the world, because the possibilities then become endless. (e.g. Latino Rebels and Publixa)
  • Laugh. Don’t take this too seriously. You can’t. Life is too damn short.
Chris, THANK YOU for hanging with us this week. BTW, we have already added an accent to your last name: It’s now Brogán!

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In honor of “Black Friday,” we are doing our FollowFriday post at midnight on Friday!

Ok, now that that bad joke is over with, we move on to continue our ongoing blog series about the TRUE MASTERS of Twitter. That is, people who truly “get” what Twitter is all about: a place where you MUST always be authentic and real. A place where you initiate conversation, but also connect with people who reach out to you. Last week, we focused on Five of the Best, and this week, we add to the list.

The reason we do this is a simple one: we want to take the time and tell people, especially those who are new on Twitter, why we think the people we follow here would enrich your Twitter experience. The people we list today and have listed on previous posts ALWAYS provide incredible value to our Twitter streams. And for that, we thank them.

These five Twitter rockstars are very active on Twitter, but they are also very genuine. How do we know? Well, we have met three of them in person, and that always helps. But even if we hadn’t met them, just a quick glance of their profiles shows why they are so good on Twitter. For us, when we decide to follow people on Twitter, we always looks for three things:

• a great profile
• a steady stream of tweets (yes, we do not believe that you should be worried about “limiting yourself” on Twitter; any time you limit yourself, you stop being yourself)
• how many @ replies are in their stream

To us, that is all that matters and not the high number of followers someone might have. (Psst, next week we are going to list some great group of people who don’t have those high follower numbers, but are just as strong as anyone else on Twitter.)

On Twitter (and listen up, all you brands and businesses who think they know the secret, but don’t), we focus on this basic question: Does the person or brand truly connect with people? If yes, we follow. If no, thanks, but no thanks.

Here is our five for this week:

@theAlReza: they come no truer that Al here on Twitter, and for that, we thank him. Why do we love Al? When we catch each other in the stream, we stop, we converse, we joke, and we connect. Then, we do it all over again the next time we see each other. Perfect.

@sarahrobinson: Yes, we have met Sarah IRL this year, and yes, we have met the apple of her eye, AKA “The Young Turk.” And Sarah has such a sense of coolness that is 100% Alabama Genuine. She offers amazing content and is quick to converse, and she also cracks us up with her wit and charm. Oh yeah, Sarah is also savvy and sharp.

@adriandayton: One of the hardest working Twitter people we know, Adrian exemplifies what every person should be doing with social media: helping, helping, and helping. Once we connected with Adrian, we formed an instant kinship that extends into our offline worlds. We are proud to call him a dear friend, and if you are new to Twitter, Adrian is a walking Twitter encyclopedia who will always @ you back if you reach out to him.

@ginidietrich: This is probably like the 6th time we have put Gini in one of our blogs, and the reason why is rather an easy one: She is Simply The Best. (Ok, cue bad Tina Turner music). But seriously, in the days of companies and brands who think they still can control their message, Gini goes against that older way of thinking and basically says that you must be more transparent than ever before, because, and this is the most important thing, you are no longer the sole keeper of your message. So, you better just dive in and connect.

@chrisbrogan Chis Brogan IS the gold standard here. I am constantly impressed by how he can manage to offer amazing value, yet still do the simple things, like sending off @ replies. For some reason, we still think Chris remembers how it felt to be new to Twitter and even though he has reached the stratosphere of the Twitter Elite, there is something cool when he just sends out real tweets from him that reinforce what social media is all about. Anyone new to Twitter would benefit from what Chris does. Hopefully, we will run into him somewhere in Boston. Not an actual run-in during rush hour, but just a chance to say hi.

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