Did Michelle Obama Just DM Me? When Campaigns Have No Clue About Twitter

Sigh. I understand that social media is the next wave of the political landscape, and campaigns have to do their jobs, but in the world of Twitter, there are certain things that are just frowned upon. And sadly for the Obama for America campaign, today is one of those days.

It started with the following private DM that I received this afternoon from the Twitter profile of Michelle Obama:

Of course, when you see a DM that says "Michelle Obama sent you a message," you're interested. For a brief second or two, I actually thought that the First Lady was no following me on Twitter, since it is basic Twitter 101 that you only send DMs to profiles that are mutually following each other. That is how the etiquette has been going on for years on Twitter. There have even been posts about it, and the general consensus is that on Twitter, sending DMs (and especially AUTO DMS) to people who can't reply to you privately via DM (the First Lady isn't following me) is just not done. But I guess someone in the Obama campaign is getting bad social media advice, and that agency is making a nice chunk of change for giving the campaign the bad avice.

What the Obama campaign SHOULD HAVE done is simple: Publicly tweet the requests or better yet, have an actual person from the campaign follow people they think would be interested in helping out, and then just asking. Instead, we get spam from the campaign, and sorry, Twitter is not like email. Just because I follow a profile who doesn't follow me does not mean that that profile can send me private DMs. And private AUTO-DMS to boot.

Since I couldn't reply to the First Lady privately, I shared my thoughts publicly via Twitter:

Looks like others are getting similar AUTO DMS as well:

Yup. Twitter 101. If political campaigns really want to take full advantage of social media, they should know the different nuances of each platform. Less automation. More authentic engagement. A stronger personal connection. Isn't that what politics should be all about? No more AUTO DMS, please, unless of course the First Lady wants to give me a follow here.



Julio (Julito) Ricardo Varela (@julito77 on Twitter) founded LatinoRebels.com (part of Latino Rebels, LLC) in May, 2011 and proceeded to open it up to about 20 like-minded Rebeldes. His personal blog, juliorvarela.com, has been active since 2008 and is widely read in Puerto Rico and beyond. He pens columns on LR regularly. This year, Julito represented the Rebeldes on CBS' Face the NationNPR,  UnivisionForbesand The New York Times.

INFOGRAPHIC: How Social Media Will Affect the Election

Social media is here to stay. This infographic from OpenSite provides you with some data to confirm that the digital world is now part of the political world.


No Matter the Platform, The Rebels Will Be There: We Are Now on Pinterest and Tumblr

As LatinoRebels.com expands its readership and following (our latest rankings confirm that independent journalism of US Latino issues is thriving), we just want to take a moment and let you know that we will be entering new social media platforms. This month, we established our presence on Pinterest and Tumblr. The reason? It is a simple one. WE LOVE THEM BOTH!

Ok, seriously, we are now on those two platforms since we feel that there are other places where our community "hangs out" at and we just want to share our stories, ideas, photos, and our vibe with them there. Not one true platform "rules" social media (although the Big Three—Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) will always be around (for now). But what does rings true is this: we just want to share the world of latinorebels.com with anyone and we want to engage and authentically connect with our readers and our community of Rebeldes. THAT is what we love about social media, and as long as it sticks around (we have no doubt it will disappear), we will be there.

Here are our two new social media babies (just click on the image to visit us if you like, and no, we won't be leaving our Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, G+ any time soon—we have too much fun there, too!)





The Latino Rebels Manifesto

We would like to take the opportunity to clarify a few misunderstandings about Latinos and specifically, the Latino Rebels. We’re not hard to figure out. In fact, we’re just like you. Except for one thing: we’re bicultural. We have one foot in each place: the United States and our origin of ancestry.

The group of Latino Rebels represents the most progressive of Latinos. We're making waves and taking names. Take for instance, the Latino Rebels who are online 24/7. What do you think we’re doing? Just playing on Facebook? “Not I,” said the cat. We are building bridges, communicating, writing, reading and educating ourselves about the world in which we live. We are making it happen for ourselves because, let’s face it, mainstream media doesn’t cut it like we can and who’s to say we don’t control the internet at this point.

A lot of what we find on mainstream media is sugar coated or stereotyped. They find it easier to put on a sombrero on it and call it Mexican than to find out that Mexicans don’t wear the hats on a daily basis. We’re not only Spanish speakers and we’re not just English speaking Latinos either (which is what 2nd and 3rd generation has come to mean). A large chunk of us are, in fact, bilingual and damn good at it. We are proud of our culture, especially our language.

Spanish is spoken by a half billion people by world estimates and the “dumbing down” of American media does all it can to trap Latinos (and especially English-only speakers) in a media loop that is full of inaccurate propaganda and biases—sometimes even against their own people, as evidenced in the contemporary Republican sphere of politics.

There have been studies done on us, facts and figures have been posted and the fact of the matter is, we live in an accented world. Yes, that’s right. We speak English and then say, “Boricua” when referring to someone of Puerto Rican heritage. We can roll our Rs and say our names loud and proud the RIGHT way. We feel a connection with our heritage because that’s what we are, that’s our history and is what makes us unique and different. Giving up our mother tongue is surrendering our history.

When we connect with Spanish-only speakers in, at times, parts of our nation and throughout the world, we are encouraging the breaking down of national and ethnic barriers so that our hearts and minds can exchange ideas in a larger world scope. Thus, Latino assimilationists who favor the colonial language of the United Kingdom versus that of España are doing the same as the rest of America: refusing to learn another language—and not just any other language—but the cultural language of our unique colonial history, brilliant and tragic. Speaking Spanish has become a radical act in today’s heightened xenophobic pre-presidential frenzy, and that gives us even more cojones to prove it.

We’re not stupid. Just because some of us may speak with an accent, doesn’t mean we’re dumb or don’t understand you. In fact, it means that we’re intelligent, that we speak another language; that we’re BILINGUAL. Don’t hate.

“Can you anglicize that?” NO!

We look different, we act different and we listen to different music. But what you don’t realize is we grew up here. We listen to the Smiths, Morrissey, Depeche Mode, Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra, and the Temptations yet, we can’t stand mainstream Latino music because it’s played out and it falls into one genre. We talk to our parents or grandparents in Spanish and can express ourselves in English. We can tell you off in either one though, don’t doubt that. We watch Spanish movies without subtitles and get excited to hear particular words from other countries like, “Vale,” "Pana," "Chamo," Ché," “Joder” and “Tío.”

A part of us wants to say that people are jealous that we Latinos can hold on so tightly to our roots. We know exactly where we come from and how we got here. We know our stories and for some reason, those who don’t, find us strangely peculiar and too attached to our ancestry.

Let’s have a chance to speak the truth for a second though: Even though we graduate from state schools and Ivy League schools, a lot of us came from gang-infested neighborhoods. Just because we knew them doesn’t mean we were one. That was the first steps in critical thinking and precaution. In reality, those of us who did come from those particular situations embrace the fact that it happened to us. We emerge tougher, we emerge as the generation of rebeldes, out to tell you all that we made it and we’re going strong.

While there are many that want to rid our generation of negative stereotypes, including the Rebels, we remember where we come from. We came from the streets, we were discriminated against, we were held to where society’s standards held us and we use all of that to our advantage.

If there’s anything Latinos know, it’s the consumer market and it’s the internet. There have been reports to explore all of these different facets of our lifestyle and guess what: We’re not cheap! In fact, we look for quality over quantity and that goes for videos, marketing arrangements and more. We can see right through you and we know when you’re BSing us. We know what we need because we live it every day. Don’t underestimate the experts.

The bridges that we have built and continue to build are strong and rooted. We find correlations and relationships with each other. Just because I’m Mexican doesn’t mean I can’t listen to salsa on Saturday mornings. Just because I’m Peruvian doesn’t mean I can’t be a kick ass bilingual spoken word poet. Just because I’m Boricua doesn’t mean I can’t love Café Tacuba. Because what Latino Rebels is bringing to the table is a multifaceted conglomerate of real relationships built on similarities and not the fact that we’re different.

We’re educating each other on our realities, explaining inside jokes and becoming stronger every day we communicate among ourselves and with the rest of our fans and readerships on all of our platforms.

Coming from Latin America, speaking Spanish and eating particular foods are traditions within our worlds but in no way does it limit our capabilities or experience in the United States. We’re as brown as brown can get both by skin color and by blood. Yet, we can all honor the flag of the United States and maintain respect for where we live and how this geographical location has allowed us to prosper.

We become angry when we are not heard, especially because we’re screaming loud and clear. We work with you, walk down the street with you, send our kids to the same school, are just as wealthy, have our own businesses, graduated from the same universities and still, we’re looked at a little sideways.

We’re placed in one big pot of BROWN, with no distinction and no respect. In no way will we silence ourselves or what we stand for. We will not dumb ourselves down and stoop to the levels at which we are treated, but we will exceed your expectations.

This is our reality. This is why we have to make our voices heard. No one will do it for us. It will come to the day in which you will either fight us or join us and we’re all more than willing to accept you with open arms.

Latino Rebels Celebrates Its Best Month Ever: ¡GRACIAS A TODOS!

To anyone who liked a photo on our Facebook page, RT'd a tweet from our Twitter profile, commented on our posts or called us crazy communists (we miss you already, RMontoya), we want to say GRACIAS.

LatinoRebels.com experienced its most successful month since the company launched on May 5, 2011. We appreciate the support and the love! We know that the Internet is jammed with millions of pages and we know that we are not the only Latino-themed alternative media rabble-rouser page out there (and we love them all). We have big plans for a 2012 that will put the Rebeldes in new media formats, as we share our world with you.

On behalf of all the Rebeldes, GRACIAS MIL. Without you and your support, we would be nothing, and we take your support seriously. Don't even hesitate to give us feedback, both the good and the ugly. We want it, because we want to keep improving and serving our community.

Here are the highlights of the best month in our company's existence so far:

  • 41,323 visits and 58,672 page views, according to our Google and WordPress stats. Both services gave us the same exact number.
  • 79% of our web traffic was new visitors. We had an average time of 1:11 per visit.
  • We are now averaging 1,500-2,000 visits a day. That is a 100% increase in our traffic in just 30 days.
  • We were proud to be one of the first (if not the first) US Latino pages to go black on Anti-SOPA day. We went black at 12:00 midnight on January 18 and stayed blacked until 10 pm EST. We got 181 clicks to the Anti-SOPA petition that was signed from our site. Our little contribution to the greater cause.
  • Our Facebook page increased 350% in new fans, from about 3,000 to around 11,500. We know that was just pure luck and we know for all the new fans we gain, we do lose a small percentage since like we say, we aren't all things to everyone. But for all the fans who have joined our community and have decided to stay, thanks again. We are a bit crazy in what we do, but every day we try to have fun and make people pause.
  • Our Twitter profile is now over 4,000 followers and we are gaining 20-30 followers a day. We anticipating breaking 5,000 followers in about a month and if all goes well, we could be around 6,000-7,000 followers by the first year of our company's official launch.
  • Our current Alexa rating as of today puts us at 103,000 in the United States. On January 1, we were around 1 million in the US. We'll take it.
  • We also want to thank the following people and networks: ABC, East Haven Mayor Joe Maturo, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Boomer Esiason, and Target.

Want to Know Why We Founded the Rebels? This Video Says It All

When we formed the Rebeldes on Cinco de Mayo in 2011, we believed in trying to find content that gets curated and is unfiltered to people. WE decided the content we wanted to share, not anyone else. In our wildest dreams, this little side hobby which became a media company has now become a unfiltered content hub for our community.

Who would have thought that it is what the Web really needs to be. This video says it all for us.

Wha??? 477% Facebook Engagement Is Crazy Fun

To EVERYONE who has posted, shared, commented (both good and bad) about THE IMMIGRATION PICTURE THAT SET FACEBOOK ON FIRE, ¡gracias!

As of this morning, our new Facebook analytics came through. Guess that picture resonated with people since our page experienced a 477% growth in engagement between fans and people who are talking about us, meaning that 4 times more people on Facebook are taking about our page than we have fans. The numbers say it quite clearly: 





It gets even crazier when you get a glance of our backoffice. A weekly increasy of 6917%.

To the community that made this photo gop viral, thank you!


Wall Street Protests Continue: Social Media Plays Key Role

Could the American Fall (no pun intended) be near? In a social media move inspired by the original Egyptian Revolt, a growing group of protesters are starting to cause a stir on Wall Street, as they enter their third day of protests against corporate policies.


The website, OccupyWallStreet.org, has shot up the Alexa Web Trafic rankings. The organizers have also seen a quick spike on Twitter and Facebook, while over 9,000 people had replied to a Facebook event that they would ve attending.

The hashtag #OccupyWallStreet is being used as the most reliable hashtag on Twitter.

A livestream can be seen here: http://www.livestream.com/globalrevolution. (Ironic that a Jack Daniels ad shows up before the streaming begins).

Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at livestream.com

CBS News reported the following this afternoon


At least five people were arrested on the third day of protests in New York's Financial District, spearheaded by a coalition of groups rallying against the influence of corporate money in politics.



Beginning on Saturday – on what was called a U.S. Day of Rage – several groups of activists vowed to occupy Wall Street, to express their anger over a financial system they say favors the rich and powerful, and about a democratic process they deem to be corrupt.

Organizers of the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstration have called for 20,000 people to "flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months."

Channeling the occupation of Cairo's Tahrir Square by Egyptians protesting the rule of Hosni Mubarak, protesters have camped out in lower Manhattan over the weekend, seeking to occupy the center of the financial world. They hope to attract many more.

Protest organizers seek to persuade President Barack Obama to establish a commission that would end "the influence money has over representatives in Washington."

Of Nuclear Bombs and Latino Disunity

It is said by many that if US Latinos could actually put aside their differences and celebrate all they can offer in this country, then and ONLY THEN will they truly be a force that could move mountains.

However, Latinos (remember we come from 21 countries) get into issues. Issues of coming from different countries, social issues, racial issues, economic issues, cultural issues, religious issues, and so forth. In general, Puerto Ricans mock Dominicans. Dominicans mock Haitians. All of Central America sees Mexico as a big arrogant neighbor. Chileans and Argentines drive each other crazy. White Latinos go against Black Latinos, and vice versa. Then we deny our Native roots as well. And don't get us started about Spain!

Add to the mix that US Latinos might not be in general the most bilingual of people and you get problems. All these problems speak to what is wrong: in an effort to get our voices heard, we unwittingly trample those around us. Our egos become bigger than our hearts, when it fact it is our hearts that will save the day.

There is a running joke that Latinos are jealous of success, especially when it comes to other Latinos becoming successful. We find that sad, quite frankly. Instead of celebrating our accomplishments, we fall into traps, the same traps that were engrained into our cultures for centuries.

In the end, we claim unity and the mainstream media tell us that we are a social force, but the truth is that we are divided and resentful. Last time we checked, that won't get us anywhere.

Here at Latino Rebels, we try to be unique. We are 30 people strong and our mission is a simple one: to use media, comedy, commentary, analysis, satire, discussion, debate, and community to TRULY UNITE LATINOS. Do we do a good job? You tell us. In the end, we will continue to do what we do and be ourselves.

When we see silly things — like the Tequila Party "national" movement, which we feel belittles Latino unity with a stupid name — we will say so. We will try to do so with respect and integrity, even though we know we have our detractors. Some of those detractors call us "losers" and "rejects." We say, "AWESOME!" Here is to the losers, since history has proven that it has been those losers and rejects who have changed the world.

Oc course, we are not the ONLY Latino-themed company on the Internet today (there are thousands of them!), and in fact, there are so many groups that share the same vision of Latino unity that it actually gives us hope. Some groups have more followers and more numbers, while other groups are just starting and getting a fan base.

Here is our point: NUMBERS TO "PROVE" SUPERIORITY AND EXCELLENCE MEAN NOTHING when it comes to social media. Like our founder said so long ago when he was actively engaging in social media, it's all about the QUALITY, baby. The numbers will come if you do the following: post great content and engage with your fans. If you truly want to say who was the first Latino community group, you need to go way back and maybe say it was those forums at Univision.com of the late 1990s.

Take this for example: what would you rather want? 30,000 followers on Twitter or Facebook or 10 followers? Before you answer that question, what if we said those 10 followers are the President of the United States, the President of Mexico, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Shakira, Carmelo Anthony, Ricky Martin, Juanes, Antonio Villaragosa, and the head of ABC, and those 10 followers gave you TRANSPARENT ACCESS to everything they do and they would actively promote what you do 24/7? That is what matters.

Good content also matters. Most bloggers we know in the Latino blogosphere are great people and write some great content. However, when we come across posts that we feel are strange, stereotypical, and offensive, we will let that group know. We aren't hating, just expressing our concern. Hell, we have been lambasted for our own posts and understand that disagreement is part of being a media company in the 21st century. Most of the times, these types of situations can get a bit messy, but we find that public apologies and genuine concern go a long way. What we don't try to do, unless of course the comments and posts are directly harming someone, is delete the post and try to ignore the problem. And if we do delete the post, it is because it starts getting too ugly and personal. That's not good for anyone.

It's best to just address it and it's best to be united.

With that said, we will say this: ANY LATINO PAGE online that shares our vision is PART OF OUR FAMILY. We will ALWAYS promote content that speaks to the nirvana of Latino Unity. That is the end goal here. That is how we will move mountains.

Soon, the Rebels will be producing a new show. We will use our show to share our universe with our viewers. We will promote other groups and causes with no expectations. We want to help anyone who wants the promotion. And yes, we will also have a blast doing the show!

So as we move into the next exciting phase of Latino Rebels, we take a moment to shout out those pages that we have grown to love. ¡Que viva la unidad latina!

Drum roll, please:

Sure, there are other pages that do the same thing, and no one page is better than the other. We leave the pissing contests to the egos. In the end, by having thousands of pages collectively producing good content and authentically connecting with people and each other, by working together instead of against each other, we will achieve that dream that has eluded us for so long. Will we be up for the challenge? Will you?
Now if the Tequila Party organizers can just change their name….
¡Que vivan los latinos!