Louis Pagan is a content producer and co-founder of Latinos in Social Media. As one of the first latino voices in the blogosphere with his blog Latino Pundit, Louis has now rebranded himself as an entrepreneur. While he still blogs, Louis also owns a company called Lat3G Media and he has helped launched projects like the LATISM Heritage Tour. Being a Latin American guy myself, it was very fun to talk with Louis about the bond that unites all latinos and hispanics, as well as topics such as old and new media, and the “social” part of social media in the25th episode of “The Social Nerdia Show!”
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Louis and I started the show talking about the fact that October 15th is the last day of Hispanic Heritage month, a tradition that has been around for many decades. Not many know this but Hispanic Heritage month starts on September 15th because it is the day of independence of many Central American countries, like my very own Guatemala. “It’s like a virtual month, right between the calendars,” Louis said as we spoke about the 4 weeks that have been designated to celebrate our heritage. “I don’t know if it’s the food, the culture, the way we look, the music, the way we dress, speak, we have a common bond and we connect on all different levels, it’s a celebration,” Louis expressed.
Louis and the Latinos in Social Media team have created a “Heritage Tour” to celebrate not only our heritage but our involvement in all things social and all things media. The LATISM crew will hold conferences in states with huge latino presence like New York and Florida. But perhaps LATISM’s biggest impact is on the web and on social media itself. The group has allowed for people across the US and the world with similar passions to connect and collaborate. Louis made sure to give credit to a lot of those involved, such as Ana Roca Castro and George Torres. “LATISM is nothing without all the people that are fueling it with all this excitement and doing all these great and amazing things, ” Louis said. “It’s really blowing our minds what we can do when put all of our minds together and put all our talents and efforts and focus on a common goal.”
Of course, not all latinos and hispanics are the same. We all have different stories, different backgrounds, different ideas, beliefs, values, and futures. Many of us relate to the famous ‘ni de aqui, ni de alla’ saying that means ‘not from here, nor from there.’ Yes, we all have a latino bond that is apparent when you put us together, but this “minority” is growing, changing, and becoming something that simply cannot be defined in detail. Growing in numbers, in purchasing power, in diversity, and in share of voice, we all have our thoughts about topics like music, assimilation, immigration, and Spanglish.
The influence and growth of our community is obviously getting the attention of companies and marketers. And I’m not just talking about TV shows on Univision and baked goods from Bimbo, I’m talking about Fortune 500 companies targeting us with big dollar signs above whatever profile they’ve put above our heads. It is very important that companies learn to see that we are a diversed bunch and that there are tons of countries and backgrounds that we’ve come from. So our diversity is not just an interesting idea, but it actually affects how entire industries do business.
Louis is a great example of how diverse we can be. “I don’t speak a lot of Spanish, I didn’t grow up with a Spanish background or Spanish cooking or Spanish culture of Spanish food. And yet, when people meet me they identify me as latino. We don’t all speak Spanish. there’s a lot of assumptions being made and if you’re in the business of making money and your consumer is either latino or hispanic, you better know your market and customize your message.”
Stereotyping is simply not going to work and it might actually create the opposite results. There is much to learn and unlearn from the evolving latino population and while that makes marketing a bit more difficult, that is a great thing because it allows researchers to delve deep into just how diverse we can be, and it also lets creatives get more creative.“Demographics are changing. There is no such thing as average American.” Louis brought up a quote from his friend John Rivera that America is now as diverse as “a great big salad, as opposed to melting pot.”
As people change, media is not always changing with them. Old media has had a lot of trouble catching up not just due to business models, but also because of the one-way form of broadcasting that old media focused on. Louis brought up the importance of trust by saying, “Old media has failed in a way because people no longer trust them.. Talking in social media is in a way a revolution in media.”
Social media is helping us meet, it’s helping us start virtual parties like#latism on Twitter, and helping us hang out on live chat rooms and live podcasts. It is helping us realize that there are many of us that are not only involved in social media, but being a part of its evolution. Louis said the following, “Right now there’s two buzz words: social media and new media… social media is using tools and technologies to socialize with other people and social media is not new. We’ve been social all our lives. Latinos are very social. You get a few of us together and we act as if we’d known each other all of our lives. Social media is simple. It’s a conversation.”
While Latinos in Social Media gives a voice to latinos, Louis told me that the group is welcoming to other groups that want to connect with us. “That’s what’s so powerful about social media. It connect eveybody its one big great dialogue that’s making changes all across the board.”