In honor of Hispanic Heritage month, I’m interviewing several top Latina(o)/Hispanic leaders in Social Media. Elianne Ramos, known as @ergeekgoddess on Twitter, is a Latina Twitter Queen who operates a successful Hispanic Marketing agency in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area. She has worked with clients such as Verizon Wireless, SlimFast, Anheuser-Busch and many other national brands. She creates “instant brand magic.” I love Elianne’s writing style. Check out her blog: SpeakHispanic.com
Why do you use Twitter?
I think of myself as a communicator, and as such, I get to wear many hats: marketer, publicist, journalist, a public speaker… As a “professional of the word”, Twitter has so many applications for me:
It’s a marketing channel where I can find people who have a need for my products/services.
It’s a source of feedback that allows me to keep my online reputation in check, to run those ideas floating around in my head and to get the instant advice for people whom I respect and admire.
It’s a broadcast tool, as I share my articles and build traffic to my website, my online column and my blog. And the reach is just amazing: I have followers from as far as Australia, Japan, Europe and all over the US that I interact with everyday.
It’s a news gathering source, where I can keep up-to-date with the goings-on in the world and in my profession without having to sort through thousands of articles and research. As a journalist, it’s also a way to gather “popular opinion” in a fast effective manner, without much legwork.
Finally, and probably most importantly, it’s a “networking event” where I get to meet and befriend professionals who do what I do, go through the same experiences and interests that I do and offer help and advice, without having to deal with the bar food, the cover charges or the pushy salespeople!
How is Twitter different than other Social Media websites, such as Facebook?
Although I don’t do Facebook as much (too many friends divulging too much personal information). To me, the beauty of Twitter is “immediate gratification”. If something is happening anywhere in the world, you better believe it’s being talked about in Twitter. That makes for breaking news you really cannot find anywhere else. There’s also immediate gratification in terms of interaction. I can interact in real time with many different people at the same time, which makes for interesting, multidimensional conversations. The richness of that kind of interaction, in terms of timeliness, insight and learning, is hard to find anywhere else.
Describe your niche and please share how long it took you to find it, after joining Twitter (or perhaps you knew what it was before you joined).
My specific niche varies depending on my function: As a journalist, I focus on Hispanic/Latino opinions, news and empowering information, something you’ll see reflected in everything I write.
As a marketer and PR professional, my niche is building market-specific communications for companies with enough insight to go beyond the mere translation. If you’re a company that really wants to develop your brand into a powerhouse in the market you have got to show respect for the culture. Finding this niche on Twitter wasn’t so difficult as I have been working as a communicator for over 13 years. I am very conscious about the kinds of things I post in terms of whether they will add value to my followers. I’m also very conscious about who I follow. I believe it’s very easy to find followers on Twitter; the hardest part is to keep people engaged with you as a brand.
What are your top three tips for our readers as they begin to build their Twitter tribe?
– Determine the kind of people you want to follow first. This is like choosing what networking event you want to attend. This will make the time you spend there more worthwhile.
– Share, share, then share some more. While it may be a bit one-sided in the beginning, soon people will notice you as a resource and will start to share, interact and recommend you to others.
– This may sound counter to the previous point, but here it goes: it is not enough to use Twitter as a posting tool or a PR vehicle; you have to make following YOU, the person, worthwhile. Have meaningful conversations with people. Let them discover the real you. This works whether you are a person or a brand.
What are your top three “never, ever do this” tips?
– Spamming must be the biggest don’t in the Twittersphere. Twitter is built on word of mouth. If you’re spamming, you’ll soon be out.
– Show some respect. This may be my own pet peeve, but cursing, sharing TMI and being abusive to others is the fastest way to be unfollowed.
– Twitter may technically be a “stalker’s paradise”, but please don’t. You WILL be blocked/reported.
When do you take your Twitter relationships to the next level, either through actually meeting in person; or collaborating ?
I’m normally a pretty open person, and I follow everyone back. My motto is “innocent until proven guilty” (at which point I unfollow). Once I get contacted or decide to contact someone, though, I do the usual checks: google, their tweets streams, blogs and personal sites before I decide to contact and/or develop an offline relationship with them.
How do you manage your time for tweeting?
I tend to tweet very organically. Sometimes, I would find myself reading some piece of research, a nice observation or interesting article and the urge to post it on Twitter becomes more powerful than me. I just have to do it. Most of the time, though, I browse to see who’s around and start chatting up. I think it’s more fun when you don’t pre-plan it.
What are your top favorite tools to use that help you efficiently and smartly manage your brand through Twitter? For instance, do you do research by using search.peoplebrowsr.com to search the biographies with keywords? Seesmic or Peoplebrowsr or Tweetdeck? A virtual assistant?
So far, I’ve tried many tools for both my Iphone and my computer. I love the flexibility and ease of use of Tweetdeck. Online, and for things like the #latism “party”, I like to use Tweet Grid since it allows me to follow hashtags and specific people simultaneously.
How are you monitizing Twitter?
I cannot assign a monetary value to what I get on Twitter. While I have gotten numerous clients through it, I think the biggest value is in the professional relationships you develop.
What or who influenced you in a positive way, earlier in your life?
My parents instilled a love for learning since I was little. My sisters and I never got dolls or kitchen sets for Christmas, but rather books, puzzles and educational toys. Their rationale, whether right or wrong, was that everything we did was part of our education. Character-wise, I’ve always had a stable of “wise Latinas” around, like my mother and her mother “Mama Clara”: strong women who took care of the kids and the family business with equal aplomb. They taught me early on that a woman could become anything she wanted.
What is your best advice to young Latinas, in middle school, high school?
I have a 14 year-old daughter, Charlene. I always talk to her about the importance of dreaming big and getting an education. No matter how hard or farfetched your dream may seem, an education will get you closer to achieving it.
Also, I advice her not to listen to the badmouthers. Judging by the images of Latinas in the media, you’d think we are all predestined to become maids, mothers at 16 and/or gang members. You have so much potential in you. Let it blossom.
Recently there was a study released that found that 41% of U.S. Latina students drop out of high school. What do you think it will take for our country and /or our education system to solve this crisis?
There are so many factors involved in this issue, it is probably one of the biggest socio-economic problems we, as a culture, are facing right now. While a young girl may be forced by the system to attend class and to go to a determined school, there may be very little incentive for her to actually stay in school. Outside pressures –from being alone at home most of the time because both parents have to work, pressure to marry young/have sex, teen pregnancy, pressure to work to help out the family, peer pressure and/or hormones–may derail them. Add to that constant cuts to education funds and huge inner city schools that are ill-equipped to house every student, and it’s no wonder that these girls end up leaving.
There is really no clear-cut way to solve it. First of all, education must become a national priority, and the way that our resources are allocated has got to change. Education shouldn’t be a political card, it should be everyone’s right.
Beyond politics, we as individuals can have some impact on the problem. I believe that, as the saying goes, “it takes a village”. These girls can largely benefit from strong role models, from the support of their families, their teachers, their communities and policymakers, from people willing to reach out and touch their lives in a positive way BEFORE they drop out.
I have lately become involved with the US Hispanic Youth Entrepreneurship Education, a program that links young Hispanics with professional adults and educational programs. I have to say that to see these young kids thrive and go on to higher education has been a most enriching experience for me. Programs of this kind are essential and it is everyone’s responsibility to reach to these kids before it’s too late. It takes so little.
For those who have already dropped out, it would be a good idea to reach out to them through educational programs that allow them to go back to school while they sort out their lives.
What else would you like to say to the world about this crisis?
It is very easy to say: “why should I care about these kids? Their parents should care.” The answer is not as easy: Children of this generation, Latinos or not, will be the leaders of tomorrow. Ignoring this problem will just feed a vicious circle: Latinas will continue to join the lowest ranks of the work force, which will lead to higher unemployment and underemployment rates among them, which means the loss of thousands of taxpayer dollars and a whole generation of women who will find it harder to compete in today’s globalized economy. What this means is that everyone of us has to get involved, spread the word about services that may help our community, and very important, become more politically conscious. I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to do my part.
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