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I have gotten a couple of queries as to why my name is no longer listed as a nominee for the 2013 SXSWi Revolucionario Awards, to be held later this month in Austin. The reason is a simple one: I was nominated in The Mobilizer category, the same one as Latino Rebels, the media company I founded in 2011. Since the Rebels and their off-the-charts success have been a testament to the amazing group of individuals who make the brand one of the best and most dynamic ones in the Latino space today, I felt pretty strongly that the brand should be recognized in the final judging process and not me. This nomination is for all the Rebeldes, you know who you are. For those who have been there from the very beginning and for those who have joined us recently, you are an amazing familia. There is no other team I would want to be with. You are the best in the Latino space, hands down.

hireslogo

Even though I am withdrawing my name for consideration, I will say that on a personal note, I am extremely grateful and thankful to all those in my own networks, the immediate networks of all the 30+ Rebeldes, our visitors to LatinoRebels.com, and ALL the brands’ social media channels (from Twitter to Facebook to Tumblr to YouTube to Instagram to Pinterest to G+ to Klout to EA) for helping me to amass close to 1,700 likes during the nomination process. Combine this with what the likes that the Rebels got and what my new friend-in-rebeldía Charle García received, and we were very proud to have gotten over 6,000 likes across the Revolucionario platforms (Facebook and their web site). We are also happy that we helped to increase awareness and recognition to the Revolucionario Award organizers. They are a great group of people who are really creating something special that has already become a SXSWi fixture.

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On behalf of all the Rebeldes, I want to thank you all for your amazing support. Now it’s time for the Comandantes to decide the winners. I will be rooting for the Rebeldes. Of course.

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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Unless you truly live under a rock, everyone knows that Twitter is smoking, Facebook (damn, I graduated 15 years earlier from Harvard) is on fire, and LinkedIn is a great tool for professional networking. No argument here: social media sites are becoming a major strategy for brands and businesses.

So as we go beyond the basics of social media and everyone rushes to set up their online presences, the issues of how to manage these sites and how to stay focused on the end objective (yes, in the end, everyone needs an objective to social media) are starting to creep up. Our clients constantly ask us: How do we take these amazing tools and prioritize them? How do we capitalize on these tools to get a return on our social media efforts?

Well, when they ask, we always bring up the Social Media Trifecta. In short, use all three: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. But, and here is the most important thing, use the tools for different purposes and audiences.

1. Twitter is the World’s Largest Bar

Remember Norm from Cheers?

When you are on Twitter, you are Norm. You are entering the world’s largest bar. Simple as that. At that world’s largest bar, you will have some friends, like Cliff and Sam. You will meet some strangers and make friends. You will see some drunken idiots who annoy you (like spammers and people who just talk garbage), and you will meet people who need your help. At this bar, you talk about anything, some personal, some business, some humor, something in common, anything, whether trivial or not. At the World’s Largest Bar, you can be yourself. In fact, you SHOULD be yourself. Feel free to relax, chat with Woody, have a beer with friends, or whatever.

2. Facebook is Your Home

We ask clients all the time: Who do you invite into your home? Do you invite EVERYONE from the bar (i.e., Twitter)? Now, we all know what would happen if EVERYONE from the bar showed up at your home. Not something you would actually be psyched about. So, when you are on Facebook and forming your Fan Pages, keep the image of your home in mind. On Facebook, you can be more transparent and more comfortable, just like when you are in your home. This is a place where you can truly connect with your guests (your customers). Invite the people you want to invite to your home, and protect yourself. Facebook is not Twitter, it adds more value that is richer for your brand. Don’t ever forget that.

3. LinkedIn is Your Office, Resume, Business Card

Keep Facebook and Twitter away from your LinkedIn, keep it very far away. Why? Because no matter how much you feel about transparency and social media (and believe me, we believe that the more transparent you are, the better, but that is what, like less than 5% of all online brands?), traditional business and traditional business practice are still the mainstream. Use the tools that LinkedIn provides you to keep your resume current, your recent business accomplishments available, and make the best business case for yourself. We always show clients our LinkedIn Profile as a good example.

So, in short, when you dive into Social Media and use The Big Three, try to keep the image of Twitter as the Bar, Facebook as Your Home, and LinkedIn as Your Office. Hopefully, that will help you when it comes to targeting the objectives of each tool.

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