How Influencer Marketing Can Help Save the Jamaican Tourism and Hospitality Industry.

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The tourism and hospitality industry plays a major role in the Jamaican economy. Last year, tourism represented 11 percent of GDP, providing some $1.3 trillion in revenue and recognising 1.4 billion international visitors. The occurrence of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, put an inevitable dent in profits for hotels, villas, tour guides, and other businesses dependent on the hospitality industry to thrive. With tighter restrictions on travel, and possible banning of foreigners visiting at any given time due to the spike in cases,  the Jamaican hospitality industry has to now pivot and shift marketing strategies to attract locals to stay afloat.

YouTuber Annesha Adams likes to showcase the real side of Jamaica

More than ever, staycations are being promoted and Jamaicans are being urged to “rediscover Jamaica” as a place to vacation and explore.  Yet to thrive, the Jamaican hospitality industry must find creative ways to be profitable. The onset of Covid-19 and the rise of social media, (as of January 2020, according to HootSuite’s Digital 2020 Report that cites trends, internet and social media data, the total number of Jamaicans who are active social media users is 1.3 million.) means traditional advertising needs to shift budgets to make way for  online marketing and this should  include Influencers for product mentions and endorsements. 

Embracing Influencer Marketing

An influencer from a marketing perspective is: “a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media.” By hoteliers embracing the local bloggers and creators they bring a unique perspective and Jamaicans follow and admire their contemporaries enjoying our beautiful island.

Bloggers and YouTubers

 A blogger by definition is a person who regularly writes material for a blog which is hosted on a website. Usually focused on a particular niche, whether that be food, travel or lifestyle. The benefit of using a blog is that it will show up in Google search unlike on Instagram which is limited in terms of search. A blog is also forever and will come up on the first or second page of  Google if SEO is used correctly.”

The Storyteller Agency. Co is looking to revoultionize the Jamaican hospitality industry

As the second most visited social media platform in Jamaica according to HootSuite’s report,  using YouTubers has a great benefit within the market. YouTubers also have their subscribers and they are very invested in their lives. Our strategy is always to look for out-of-the-box ways to showcase an attraction. In the US, brand-sponsored trips are a standard and we want to make that the norm  locally as well.

For us it’s more than just taking a pretty picture. Our approach is always robust, combining mega and micro-Influencers, local content creators, YouTubers and bloggers, to bring your brand story to life and showcase the very best of the attraction or villa/hotel. In the past year, we’ve worked with Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival, Worthy Park Estate Rum Tour, Joy Spence’s Appleton Estate Rum Tour, non-profit Kingston Creative to showcase their Art Walk activities and Ministry of Culture, Gender and Sport to promote the activities for Reggae Month.

Last year for International Rum Day, Worthy Park Estate Rum Tour invited a group of 12 bloggers from Love Not Likes to visit the tour and received more than 100,000 impressions on Instagram on the commemorative day. After the visit, each blogger wrote their own review and they received over 500 reads on their blogs collectively.

To target a new local audience means a local voice is needed. Jamaicans are ready to rediscover their island, find hidden gems, and staycation in hotels and villas, but they want to learn about it from a local consumer perspective. Local bloggers can show them the way, where to find the best deals, the hidden gems, stir off the beaten path and patronize the smaller establishments who need  support the most at this time. More and more, local consumers want real-life reviews of the hotel/villa and attraction experience from the ambiance, service quality to amenities. And they want it from people they trust, many of whom are the influencers they follow on social media.

Building awareness for brands using the art of storytelling

The Storyteller Agency.Co.  has partnered with several local hotels, restaurants, villas and attractions to connect with Jamaicans through the use of Influencers and local creators in the past year. By using creators who are travel-centric and like to share their honest experiences, you can have a  deeper connection with your target audience through their eyes. These influencers share their life through the art of storytelling and  their followers are invested in those stories.

Annesha Adams received over 10,000 views and 200 comments on her hotel review of Lashings Boutique Hotels and Villas

For instance, Jamaican YouTuber Annesha Adams  (who has more than 40,000 subscribers) visited Lashings Boutique Hotel in Treasure Beach and received more than 10,000 views in 24hrs with more than 200 comments on her hotel review.  In her video, which now has more than 25,000 views,  she shares her honest opinion of the hotel, details about amenities, local fare and price range.

“Since moving back home to Jamaica from Canada two years ago, I’ve wanted to showcase the very best of the island. From the best attractions to visit in every parish to even the not so popular places, I always share with my subscribers the real life perspective of living in Jamaica. St. Elizabeth is one of my favourite parishes and I liked Lashings Boutique Hotel’s aesthetic and wanted to show my subscribers a different side of Jamaica. Not just the touristy side but the relaxed side as well.” says Annesha.

Follow Travel YouTuber Annesha Adams on IG @annesha.adams.

“We’re very happy to have partnered with The Storyteller Agency. Co and Annesha Adams,” says David Folb, owner of Lashing Boutique and Villas.  “We’ll be using them again when we have our official launch of our new Beach Club in Treasure Beach later this month.” he says. TO GET A 5% PERCENT DISCOUNT, USE PROMO CODE “ANNESHALOVES” ON LASHINGS BOUTIQUE HOTEL AND VILLA’S WEBSITE

“I’m really aware that some Jamaicans don’t like the all inclusive experience you get in the main resorts,  so I have been keen to offer something different. Our hotel and villas offer a more ‘grown up’ approach to tourism – with an authentic Jamaican  experience which doesn’t patronise or exploit. It’s also something more interesting for bloggers to write about or create videos around – beyond the standard bikini shots!”

MyRepeatOffender showcased Turtles’ Nest with this breathtaking photo

After a group of influencers curated by The Storyteller Agency. Co visited Turtles’ Nest earlier this month, the Treasure Beach villa’s Instagram followers grew by more than 500 followers in 24 hours.  Lucy Atherton, the owner, said: “We’re pretty much booked out until Christmas now, it’s been quite amazing for us. I just took a view early on in the pandemic that I would focus entirely on the Jamaican market and that using influencers was the quickest and most effective way to do this. I’m always as generous as I can be to bloggers who stay and I rarely say ‘no’ – so it’s really paid off.

 

TO GET A 10% PERCENT DISCOUNT, USE PROMO CODE “LUXURYLOVES” ON LUXURY VILLA TURTLES’ NEST

“With the help of Instagram and its influencers, Jamaicans in general are rediscovering a love for their beautiful country, at a time when it’s very difficult to travel abroad. The south coast, which has been largely ignored as a staycation option in the past, is now really benefiting from this.”

Sustaining Profitability for the Hospitality Industry in a Covid-19 world

The way the Jamaican Tourism and Hospitality industry targets local tourists must expand. Incentivizing creators to promote the local hospitality industry so that they can be encouraged to promote off-the-beaten-path villas using diverse local content creators (e.g. bloggers and YouTubers), as well as innovating online are a few ways to pivot. Using platforms like The Storyteller Agency. Co to match influencers with the target demographic to create organic-driven online and influencer campaigns, are key to surviving and finding new patrons. 

Guest Blog: How to Pivot Your Business During #COVID19 Like KFC Jamaica

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Photo Credit: @kfcjamaica

Industry: Fast Food | Company: Restaurants of Jamaica

Managed Brands: KFC, Pizza Hut |Years In Operation Locally: 45 Years

When the first confirmed COVID19 case hit Jamaica, on March 10, like many businesses,  Restaurant of Jamaica, owners and operators of KFC scoped the landscape and saw how to best to pivot given the unprecedented times to make ‘painful decisions’.

A week later, on the heels of the Government shutdown which brought the limited operation with a 12 hour curfew, the once high trafficked and high volume stores saw sales plummet by 50%; fewer persons were eating out given the restricted public gathering to 20 persons and out of fear and uncertainty of coming out into public places. According to Director of Marketing Tina Matalon who noted in a July Zoom session, “our biggest challenge was accessibility; we’ve been looking at the delivery channel for a couple of years, the right model and approach to enter it with a brand like KFC; we accelerated that, rapidly”

This spawned two news releases in April:

·       The brand added a delivery option.

·       The brand announced temporary layoff of staff.

Social Media Backlash

Once social media got wind of the layoffs, the brand came under severe backlash online.

Thousands of Jamaicans online begged for their fellow Jamaican workers who by that time would have received lower working hours and possibly been laid off. The challenge? Jamaicans saw no reason to lay off staff when the demand for the brand’s key products was still very high. Jamaica’s Largest food chain, amidst a tight curfew which brought “early closures of our restaurants during some of our most patronized times of the day the options were very slim.

According to the release ‘it has been struggling to cope with significant declines in sales and transactions of more than half of its business.” The company went on to say that it will re-engage employees as quickly as possible. adapt and find creative ways to sustain its operations in order to ensure that it can continue to support its employees for as long as possible.

Digital Shift

“The Jamaican marketplace is behind on a lot of trends that are globally successful when it comes to technology or in the digital landscape; one of the immediate opportunities we saw was opening our access channels”. As delivery partners were small in operation catering to casual dining, the infrastructure was not equipped to take on the robust nature of a high-demand, quick service fast-food model like KFC. The brand worked with partners to scale up and meet the demand quickly with an excellent package, on-time delivery and fast turn-around time.

Thankfully, amidst the flurry of COVID19 and the backlash, not only did the team “keep everyone employed and on the team which was an incredible feat”, social media sentiment  has been returned in a favorable light and  the brand accelerated business models in 3 weeks to:

✔️Adapt to the shift in consumer behavior (stay-at-home or WFH).

✔️Get the product to them (online ordering via 7Krave )

✔️Redefine customer acquisition via digitizing.

The business now has three models – walk-in, drive-up, or order in. Digital ordering and delivery will be a ‘permanent channel moving forward’.

#HowToPivot: Advice to the Caribbean Biz

·      Review your operations and spreadsheet.

·      See where you can meet customers where they are in terms of delivery.

·      Make a big deal of the new options to drive awareness, trial and uptake.Be agile in your approach, listen to feedback and follow all guidelines stipulated.    

About The Guest Blogger

Shane Bennett is the co-founder of Social Media Day Jamaica. A media and marketing strategist by profession, he focuses on digital, experiential and public relations for personal, corporate and SME brands. Find him on Twitter and on LinkedIn sharing tips for digital branding at his @iamsgb handle.

YouTuber Annesha Adams on Profiting from Passion

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To launch my Creatives of the Future e-book, (to purchase, click here) I interviewed some creatives who were already monetizing their platforms because of their work on social media. One of those people is Jamaican-Canadian YouTuber Annesha Adams.

Subscribe to Annesha Adam’s YouTube Channel

What do you do for a living? I create lifestyle content on YouTube
How many followers do you have? On Instagram 5,000 and YouTube 30,000. I am currently really working on growing my Instagram following.
If you could eat any type of food (right now) what would you buy?  Jamaican Curry chicken and white rice. OH SO GOOD!
What is your dream job? My dream job is to be an entrepreneur and work in the tourism industry in Jamaica. But the rest is a secret I will share soon!
What Netflix series are you binging on?  Oh, I don’t really watch Netflix. I’ll watch a movie on it, once every 7 months.
Favourite Influencer/YouTuber of all time?  Oh this one is difficult. I have so many because I like each influencer for a specific reason. But, I really admire the influence Vybz Kartel has. It may because he has been sovereign in his field, consistent for YEARS, trendy and abnormally creative but, his willpower is impressive. He could influence anyone to do anything. He could talk about how much he loves a certain flower, and everyone would buy and love the flower as well. He could laugh a certain way and then everyone would want to laugh like him as well. It’s impressive I tell you.


How has social media helped your career?  Social media has helped me in every way possible. My career is social media! Social media connects me to brands, people from all around the world, educate me, assisted with being my own boss, live anywhere in this world and increased my income! I could go on forever.
What advice would you give others trying to make a name for themselves? No matter what field you are in and what you love, consistency will help you to grow and be successful! Consistency brings results! In addition with branding. Branding yourself through photo, video or audio creates trust and legitimacy with others. Be consistent with your branding and people will follow and share. These two things will help to make a name for yourself and for you to be sovereign in the field you are in. Oh, and everything takes time, your patience will be a reward!
What is the last thing you liked on social media? A Jamaica travel photo ️
Who is your hero? I don’t have one. Well, I would think all my heros are my black activists around this world who had fought and continue to fight for black rights.
How did you get into YouTube? I got into YouTube a few years ago after noticing people could profit from their passions. It inspired me to do the same!
Where do you see your career going in the next few years? I see my brand growing, evolving and being successful.
What inspires you to create? Life. things that happen in everyday life, people and scenery. The things I do on a daily inspire me to come up with helpful YouTube videos. The stories my friends, family and I share amongst each other and the daily life experiences learnt helps me to create content to share on YouTube! For photos, my inspiration is scenery. While I’m driving or walking, I’m always looking at the scenery around me. I get inspired by seeing ‘pretty’ scenery which then inspires me to plan a photoshoot there. Also, I get inspiration from other people on YouTube and Instagram, seeing other people’s consistency, creative and beautiful work continues to drive me to consistently work smart, learn more about the fields I’m in and grow!

“I really admire the influence Vybz Kartel has. It may because he has been sovereign in his field, consistent for YEARS, trendy and abnormally creative but, his willpower is impressive. He could influence anyone to do anything.”

Ever since she could remember, Jamaica has held an important part of her life. Being introduced to such a distinct, vibrant, creative and confident culture and people, made her fall in love, and she never looked elsewhere. Being Jamaican is definitely an experience she would not change for the world. She considers Jamaica, the land of wood, water and wellness because of the calming spaces like the countryside and the beach.

Originally from Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, born September 9th, 1996, Annesha comes from a big family of seven sisters and one brother all from the same parents. She was first introduced to the island by her proud Jamaican parents who raised her, authentic Jamaican cuisine, non-stop dancehall and reggae music playing and vibes! Although, she is Jamaican through descent, being a part of the culture has been one thing she grew up being aware of. She now lives and resides in Mandeville and makes a living as a YouTuber, vlogging about everything from the best places to visit to how-tos and hair tutorials.

Annesha was nominated as one of Bashy’s YouTubers to watch in 2020.

Girl Boss Sue-Tanya McHorgh: From losing her job to Online Entrepreneur

Sue-Tanya hopes to inspire her generation to build their own online businesses. Photo Credit: Rockstaar

What is your dream job? 

To launch my Creatives of the Future e-book, (to purchase, click here) I interviewed some creatives who were already monetizing their platforms because of their work on social media. One of those people is website Designer and Blogger, Sue-Tanya Mchorgh.

  1. What is your dream job? My current job is my dream job. The ability to create and earn from something I am passionate about is a dream come true for me . A lot of people are unhappy in their jobs. Not me. I love my job. 

2. What Netflix series are you binging on? Blacklist

3. Favourite Influencer/YouTuber of all time? @Jadedarmawngsa

4. How has social media helped your career? My social media has helped me with advertising and getting targeted leads for my businesses.

5. What advice would you give others trying to make a name for themselves? Stay focused, have a game plan, a small circle of friends, get a mentor and follow your gut.  

6.What is the last thing you liked on social media? Cat videos. I am obsessed with them.

7. Who is your hero?  My mom. She did an amazing job raising me.

8. How did you get into blogging?  I started blogging because I wanted an outlet to share my travel and entrepreneurial experiences. 

9. Where do you see your career going in the next few years? I hope to perfect my current offerings, expand my businesses, hire employees and venture into coaching small business owners. 

10.What inspires you to create? My customers and my competitors. I love seeing my customers happy. They encourage me to create and improve on my skills. So does the competition. 

By the age of 17, Sue-Tanya Mchorgh knew she wanted to become an entrepreneur. She decided to study Business Administration but due to financial restraints, had to get a job and work overtime to pay tuition.

Juggling a 9-5 while going to school was hard work. Then she got laid off and didn’t have money to finish her studies. Thankfully, she was introduced to the world of working online as a virtual assistant and web designer. A virtual assistant, by definition, is an independent contractor who provides administrative services to clients while operating outside of the client’s office.

Today, she remotely helps clients with everything from social media, story and article writing, video editing, branding, and web design all from her home office.

Since she started in 2017, her client list has grown to include government institutions, realtors and even personal brands. She also owns an online fashion boutique called Suety’s Boutique where she sells her favorite fast-fashion finds.

Sue-Tanya modeled with Those Creative People for the launch of their Color Collection

Sue-Tanya considers herself a girl boss, which is basically a confident, capable woman who pursues her own ambitions instead of settling in life and hopes to inspire her generation through her motivational Instagram account @motivatedbysue.

Today, she’s also been able to live life on her terms by monetizing her social media platforms and carving out a niche as a content creator and blogger. On her website, www.suetanyamchorgh, she shares her opinion about everything from business to fashion. She’s worked with brands like Those Creative People, Kingston Creative, Jamaica Observer’s Take Style Out  and the Ministry of Gender, Culture, Entertainment and Sport highlighting the 2020 Reggae Month activities.

She wants to help entrepreneurs and small businesses create their e-commerce sites, branding kits and social media content. She also teaches others how to become a virtual assistant.

Girl Boss Sue-Tanya is a web designer, brand specialist, and lifestyle blogger. She’s worked with brands like CPJ, Kingston Industrial Garage, Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Those Creative People and others. You can learn about Sue-Tanya at www.suetanyamchorgh.com

Kristia Franklin: Stylist Capitalizing on the TikTok wave, #DontRushChallenge

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Stylist Kristia Franklin aka MyRepeatOffender uses her personal brand to attract business and brand partnerships.

To launch my Creatives of the Future e-book, (to purchase, click here) I interviewed some creatives who were already monetizing their platforms because of their work on social media. 

  1. What do you do for a living? Owner of @tiaclothesgirl, an online store and a stylist. 
  2. How many followers do you have? 8497 followers
  3. If you could eat any type of food (right now) what would you buy?  Several! Green Thai Curry shrimp from Tamarind, pasta from South Ave Grill, Avocado Spring roll and fried ice cream.
  4. What is your dream job? My dream job is what I’m doing now but on a larger scale and with more free time to travel for luxury and philanthropic opportunities. 
  5. What Netflix series are you binging on? Just finished Ozark.
  6. Favourite Influencer/YouTuber of all time?  I don’t have one to be honest. Just several I like for different reasons. 
  7. How has social media helped your career?  It started my career actually. Instagram has made tiaclothesgirl possible and it has also made my personal brand possible as well. 
  8. What advice would you give others trying to make a name for themselves? Just be true to yourself. Show people the real you. 
  9. What is the last thing you liked on social media? A pic of a bad ass outfit. 
  10. Who is your hero? Jesus Christ
My Repeat Offender’s before look for the #DontRushChallenge where she uses the makeup brush as a metaphor to transform her look.

A sudden wave of challenges have started during this whole COVID-19 pandemic, as more people are flooding to TikTok, the leading destination for short-form mobile video—which now boasts over 800 million users worldwide. TikTok is an app for making and sharing short videos. The videos are tall, not square, like  Snapchat or Instagram’s stories, but you navigate through videos by scrolling up and down, like a feed, not by tapping or swiping side to side.

Creators have access to several filters and editing features. Challenges are quite popular but one causing a stir is the #DontRushChallenge.Various iterations of the #DontRushChallenge include different songs that feature moms,health workers, men, makeup artists, and different nationalities.

My Repeat Offender’s shows you can dress up even if you’re at home

The #DontRushChallenge is a scenario where creators transform from homely to glam to the popular song, Don’t Rush by U.K. rap duo,  Young T and Bugsy while “passing along” a makeup brush used as a metaphorical baton.

Stylist Kristia Franklin, otherwise known as @MyRepeatOffender on Instagram has joined the many other creators in the  #DontRushChallenge by participating in not one, but two of these challenges.

Follow MyRepeatOffender on TikTok

She has collaborated with other creators @cocoislandgal @_ashleycarla, @leighnic, @iam_brandii, @jobyjaymusic, @piavonique, @ruthxrobby, @ashleysaige, @mynamesdora_ , @daanielle.xo, @suebie__, @a.swappstyle, @jenequep. They chose to do the final video to a song produced by @toniochromatic that went viral on social media.

The other #DontRushChallenge she created with her high school friends, which also went viral.

“This #DontRushChallenge has allowed me to collab with other creators,  and keep a connection to my followers. I’m used to getting dressed up and going out and since we’re on curfew due to COVID-19, this is my way of still having that outlet.  I love playing with makeup, getting dressed up and showing different looks, so the challenge was just a fun way of doing that!” she said.

Many creators are doing this, by recording and sharing their videos via WhatsApp, compiling and editing them in TikTok, which has features to make the 26-second video seamless.

Just like any other fashion-focused creator, Kristia has capitalized on this trend by posting her style looks, many of which she recommends to her clients.

Since COVID-19 lockdown, her usual brand partnerships have been on hiatus but this hasn’t stopped Kristia from keeping relevant in the space. 

Kristia doesn’t have 100,000 instagram followers, nor does she own a blog or YouTube channel and yet she’s been able to monetize her social media platform. How does Kristia manage to do this?

Franklin, who was crowned Campari Pop Style’s Most Stylish Female after an island-wide search in 2017, has always been a solo-preneur. She joins a generation of creatives who make more money living their dream than working at a job to survive.

Even as a child Franklin knew that she wanted to be an entrepreneur, “One day we were going to Portmore and I told my mother I wanted ice cream and she told me if I sold one shirt I would get it. I sold three, and from there I knew I wanted to be in sales.” she said.

After attending the University of Technology (UTech) Jamaica, Kristia started selling fast fashion clothing she bought on her travels through her website. Using social media to drive traffic to her website, Kristia would use models to create fashion editorial style photos.

“This created a lot of buzz and my following grew,” Kristia said. However, Kristia also used her personal brand as well by posting three different ways to wear an outfit, hence her Instagram name, My Repeat Offender.

By creating eye-catching, brightly colored, edgy looks, Kristia has drawn the attention of many, with clients ranging from party-goers to businesswomen. She’s worked with Miss Jamaica Universe 2014 and model Kaci Fennel, model and marketer Jeneque Pinnock and publicist and former television producer Alison Moss-Solomon to name a few.

Kristia is known for creating a memorable look that will have photographers begging to capture as soon as they arrive to the event.

She’s also been able to monetize with her social media platform by establishing partnerships with local brands. Working with these companies have allowed her a lot of creative freedom, as most brands want a message that feels natural and seamless.

She does this by creating posting photos of herself in exotic locations both in Jamaica and internationally. This garners many likes and a lot of engagement. “It is my online picture book which allows me to capture the essence of my trips whether I’m on vacation in Bali or taking a road trip to the North Coast.” she says.

Kristia continues to think of ways of keeping her brand relevant during this time by sharing her passion for fashion.

How Businesses Can Survive in the Time of Corona and Beyond

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I knew this day would come as I’ve been preaching about Digital Transformation for the past few years now. Since 2002, during the dot.com era when everyone and their mama was making money from building websites, I’ve worked on quite a few.

Somehow that died down in the last decade. Perhaps because of the invention of social media, people feel its so much easier (and cheaper) to focus on building your following on instagram than building your email list and increasing website visitors.

In 2012, I helped a non-profit drive traffic to their website and increased donor loyalty by 25% in a matter of few months . As an international NGO, they heavily relied on funding to implement projects, so this factor was essential. 

Now fast forward to 2020, the Corona virus has halted all major events and social gatherings including weddings, funerals and bank lines for at least two weeks, if not longer. How will small businesses, promoters and event planners survive this massive dent in their income?

Here are some things businesses can do to survive Corona Virus, otherwise known as COVID-19:

  1. Create a website to build credibility. It’s necessary more than ever at this time. Not just for events but for anyone that sells goods and/or services. It allows people to see the services you have to offer as well as, in times of crisis like this, update your customers with the necessary information they need.
  2. Add e-commerce so you can make money online:I wanted to help someone in another country promote their products but they didn’t have a website. How am I supposed to help them promote if they don’t have a way to receive online payments? This also helps you to widen your customer base which is critical in a time like this.
  3. Digital Transformation will be the future of success: For those who are now forced to do remote work, take the time to set up the cloud so you can back up files, digitize your files and include project management systems to increase productivity. Help your staff get digital ready, purchase Google Play gift card for them to buy productivity apps.Then reward them with this .
  4. Create Online challenges to keep people engaged: Show ways your company is helping to fight the Corona Virus by asking your followers to engage in a challenge. Currently, there is the popular #WashYourLyrics challenge but you can also ask people to show how they sanitize their phones or even homes. Or similarly to the #PlankChallenge, they can ask people to show how they are practicing social distancing at this time. Make it fun! It also help to keep you top-of-mind during this difficult time.
  5. By Live Streaming events the show will go on: Have you ever watched a boxing match on pay-per-view? You can also live stream events through your website and ask people to pay to watch it. This is also a great time to set up Eventbrite and Paypal account so you can accept payments.
  6. Brand Partnerships are key: If you’re a promoter, by now you should have your sponsors who you can rely on. If the events scheduled have been postponed or cancelled, they should have some funds in reserve. Ask them to sponsor the live streamed event and show value by mentioning the brand or subtly having it the background while the event is taking place. Encourage people to comment on the livestream and win prizes.
  7. And lastly Care. What as a business are you doing to give back? It’s more than just showing people how to wash their hands. Leave the updates on the virus to the health authorities. How will you help people feed their families and stay healthy during this time? Social good and corporate social responsibility are important so much more now than ever before. 

Beat Street & Dennis Brown Tribute Concert : The Death of Vinyl and the Evolution of Reggae Music

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I took the shuttle from Spanish Court Hotel down to Orange Street, Downtown Kingston, otherwise known as “Beat Street” which runs north from the corner of Parade, last Sunday, February 23rd for one of Kingston Creative’s activities in partnership with Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment & Sports, the Kingston and  St Andrew Municipal Corporation to commemorate Reggae Month.

According to Lonely Planet.com “It’s one of the great wellsprings of Jamaican music and was home to Sir Coxsone Dodd’s legendary Studio One Records, as well as the original studios of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Prince Buster’s famous Record Shack.”

Feeling nostalgic? Get this tee here

From 1950s to early 70s, ska, rocksteady, reggae, and dub exploded and became a worldwide phenomenon. Record shops and studios monopolized the street and surrounding areas. Beat Street has become an important historical zone that deserves to be preserved and redeveloped as a reggae historical and economic zone. 

We walked along the street and it reminded me of my days of living in New York, where they’d have the street festivals with art, food and music. Vendors were selling roast corn, chicken soup, ital stew,  roots tonic and beer while murals lined both sides.

The music filled the streets as sound systems, Soultone and Shanghai, played music of the three producers, Clement “Coxson” Dodd, Cecil “Prince Buster” Campbell, and Lee “Scratch” Perry and that of Dennis Brown, who lived at “Big Yard” located at 135 Orange Street. 

This one yah name “inside the Rockers International”

 As we walked, I met Clive Randy Chin, who sat on the corner with a friend. He told me that his father’s studio  and record shop called Randy’s Group on North Parade was being honored as a musical heritage site.

Clive Randy Chin on Beat Street last Sunday celebrating his Dad’s shop being honored as a musical heritage site
at North Parade

He told me that Ken Boothe, Alton Ellis, Toots and The Maytals,  Dennis Brown, Lord Fraser and even the Peptones all recorded at his father’s studio on North Parade.

Most record shops haven’t survived the death of vinyl or cds for that matter but he made it clear that he’s still producing music but without the overheads—in his home studio.

The Death of Vinyl

So vinyl records ruled that era but as the years went on analog audio recordings degraded the quality of the music as vinyl records and cassette tapes don’t age very well. Did you ever notice when you played a cassette tape over and over again, it affected the sound quality?  If you like to collect vinyl records, here’s a classic by the Crown Prince of Reggae, Dennis Brown, shop here

Nowadays, digital audio recordings are consistently the same sound quality because you can play and copy them endlessly, and they will maintain their original quality forever—unless you manipulate the file, of course.

 I had no prior knowledge of Beat Street or its connection to cultivating reggae and dancehall music until I walked into Trevor “Leggo” Douglas’s recording studio, aka LeggoBeast.

His close relative named, “Q”, sat at the sound machines and answered questions about the history of the studio, how it came to be and where it’s going.

We asked, who had recorded there, to which Q answered, “The better question to ask is, who hasn’t?”

Murals lined the walls of Beat Street. From Sean Paul to Big Youth, Beat Street has seen them all.

Trevor “Leggo” Douglas explained, that every great reggae artist had recorded there from Shaggy to Dennis Brown, with the exception of Bob Marley.

Leggo explained his journey to becoming the owner of the studio, from collecting bottles at dances at 13 to make pocket change, to making cassettes and then migrating to New York to run a robot taxi in order to make enough money to buy the studio equipment and ship them back home.

He then  took us to “Big Yard”, the official childhood home of Dennis Brown. In ruin, however around the back was a small room where people who knew him well lived. Dennis Brown was known for taking care of everyone in the community. They are trying to raise money to make it a museum.

Rockers International is the only surviving vinyl record shop in Jamaica.
Feel like listening to some classics? Purchase Marley Get Together Portable Bluetooth Speaker here

We then walked into Rockers International which is the only surviving vinyl record shop in Jamaica. It reminded me of the shops they used to have in HWT, that my brother used to visit on his trips home from Denmark. He would buy the latest records for his sounds system he and his friends ran.

We finished the day at Randy’s Music Group on North Parade where Randy showed all the old equipment that was gathering dust. Old posters decorated the walls and I found a Magnum Tonic Wine calendar from 2015, I had conceptualized with dancehall artist Stacious posing as an Amazonian woman with a bike man underneath, staring up at her.

Dennis Brown Tribute Concert

I headed back downtown in the evening at the Waterfront where Kristia aka @myrepeatoffender was doing an IG takeover on Reggae Month’s page.

Purchase a memorabilia Dennis Brown T-shirt here

Freddie McGregor, Julian Marley, Richie Stephens and so many other amazing artists came down to tribute Dennis Brown’s birthday.

What a great way to end Reggae Month. Can’t wait until next year!

7th Annual Jamaica Music Conference: Traditional vs. New Media

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Photo Credit: William Richards

I was invited to be a panelist at the 7th Annual Jamaica Music Conference to discuss the social and Emerging Media for the future of reggae and dancehall music. I was invited because we are currently running an influencer campaign for the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport’s Reggae Month’s activities, highlighting some of the great cultural activities and special events on the schedule.

The panelists were on the new media side: Ari Hammond and Naro Hart, Hosts, of The Fix Podcast on YouTube and representatives of traditional media: Ellen Khoelings and Pete Lilly from the popular German-based reggae magazine, Riddim Magazine. And me, the Founder of Love Not Likes, a blogger/influencer network. Although Love Not Likes is fairly new, I’ve been working in marketing and communications for over a decade and so I’m familiar with both mediums.

Photo Credit: William Richards

It was a great opportunity for me to show that they are also different kinds of non-traditional media platforms like CaribVoxx, KingstonCityLife, Haute People and LuxuryJa, dedicated to creating great local content that can also connect with the Diaspora.

Watch part of the discussion on OnStage’s YouTube channel.

Correction: YouTube is number two, not number the number one social media channel.

ABOUT JAMAICA MUSIC CONFERENCE

This is a sponsored post by The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport for Reggae Month. All reviews and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view.


Jamaica Music Conference is the preeminent music conference that connects music artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs globally with the who’s who in the Jamaica music industry. Now in its 7th staging, the JMC provides an opportunity for independent music professionals to network and collaborate with industry peers, seasoned professionals and creatives, showcase emerging talent,and learn best practices and gain insights into the ever-changing business of music, through relevant panel discussions and interactive workshops.

Love Not Likes: Micro-Influencers and Bloggers Take on Jamaica

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I’ve been working in advertising for over 15 years, and as someone who used “influencers” (there wasn’t a name for it at the time) to sell t-shirts online for 2 years, I understand the value of an influencer.

The community is small is in Jamaica, totaling about 20-30 major influencers made up of mostly comedians, lifestyle, beauty and public figure categories.

I was nominated as a People to Watch in 2019, by Kadia Francis, aka the Digital Jamaican who scoured the internet to find micro-influencers and bloggers who write mostly for the love of it and not necessarily the recognition. A micro-influencer tends to have less than 10,000 followers but usually has an intimate community. ( I listed using micro-influencers as one of the 2019 trends in social media. Read here)

We wanted to bring everyone together to bond and network. Most of the people had the same wish–to create content (whether that be in the form of writing, taking photos or making videos, etc), and being able to travel the world while doing so.

list of Jamaican bloggers. love not likes
Love Not Likes Bloggers/Content Creators in the middle of the road at Castleton Gardens

We received sponsorship from Ion Communications and LuxuryJa.

While CPJ, our official refreshment sponsor provided us with Life Span Water and Glinter sparkling water

Photo Credit: Peter Clarke, Rocket Visions JA

Rum Cream, Rumbar rum and vodka came from Worthy Park.

Snacks for the 2.5 drive from National Bakery

Sun Factory provided us with flip-flops for the beach.

Each blogger received customized mugs with their ig handle from The Label Snob , Sharmac Graphics printed the fans for each guest, Just nuff social plan (which includes data and social media) were granted by Digicel Jamaica and TCP offered the bags to carry everything in.

Watch the video of the recap.

The bloggers paid for their transportation and lunch but received reposts and comments from the sponsors, edited photos from established photographers including Machel Witter, Peter Clarke and Darren George (contracted by our partners Ion Communications), to gather content on their behalf. We were even featured on CVM Sunrise. See the full interview below.

So the most burning questions from this experience have been, why call it Love Not Likes? In April 2019, Instagram put out that they were working on changing the platform to eliminate likes, you can read the Forbes article here.

Also, as I said earlier, many of these bloggers do it because they love what they do—sharing their go-to spots in Jamaica, or their beauty secrets, etc. However, they’ve never received corporate sponsorship or even gifted merchandise.

The list of the bloggers/micro-influencers/YouTubers who attended were:

Jhunelle Jureidini: a full-time travel blogger who finds most of the unknown places in Jamaica and highlights them.

Sue-Tanya McHorgh: a website developer and lifestyle blogger who also has an online clothing store.

Diedre McLeod: A travel blogger who teaches travelers how to travel the world on a budget.

View this post on Instagram

Anybody ever ask you why you always have ONE BAG AH TINGS in your bag? 🤣 Bae is usually guilty amirite!? * You ever checked out the things you are carrying in your bag? Like really looked at what's in your bag? What do you have languishing in there? Old receipts, snack wrappers (cuz you do your part for the environment), broken makeup, random stuff that you not sure why they're ever there in the first place? LoL I may have stopped talking about a bag and now having full-on philosophical ramblings on life 🙊. But honestly, I try to be intentional about what I put in my bag. I don't want to be literally carrying around useless baggage. And this beach bag from @thosecreativepeople can really hold ONE BAG AH TINGS! Fyi it's great for trips not just to the beach. On my last trip to the beach it really shined. It's Spacious. Great for holding towels, water shoes, food, sunscreen and more. Check my blog about "How to do One Bag Ah Tings on your next trip to Portland" to see how handy the bag is (LinkInBio or bit.ly/oneBagAhTings) And tell me if you love it! * * * * * * * 📸@rockstaar_ 👜@thosecreativepeople #gifted #sponsoredpost #iamwandering #wanderoften #tcptings #thosecreativepeople #beachbagswag #beachlovers🌴 #JamaicaJamaica #proud876 #wanderlustcollection #frenchmanscove #jamaicabeach #portlandjamaica #weekendgetaways #blackgirlstraveltoo #fabuplus #blacktraveljourney #weekendmood #whatsinyourbag #cluttered #baggage #beachlifeisthebestlife #onthebeach

A post shared by Jamaican Solo Travel Planner (@diedreinwanderland) on

Lucienne Antonio: A blogger who also can secure your next budget vacation.

Kemar Royal: a content creator/droner who lives for adventure

Ronnia Cherry, a creative with multiple interests, all surrounding creating a platform for Jamaican creatives. Learn more about her

Tashi Grant: A media maven who started her lifestyle/travel blog called The Hopper

Rachael Campbell: a travel vlogger who likes to party.

Jehmeil Shrouder: a YouTuber on a mission to be successful.

Ornella Green: A lifestyle/beauty blogger who aspires to travel the world.

So I wanted to make them feel special, i.e. find a way to show them and the world, that micro-influencers have value. Many influencers only big up a brand because they are getting paid, which sometimes loses its authenticity.

So let’s even get more pedantic, people think influencer is a dirty/bad word. What is an influencer, really?

An influencer is an individual who’s capable of affecting (i.e., influencing) people’s purchase decisions because of his/her knowledge or authority. What’s more, this individual has a following – usually on social media – in a specific niche, such as fashion, food, fitness, photography, and so on. YouTube marketing is also quite common.

Tech Jury ( see article here)

According to influencer marketing research, many companies will hire brand ambassadors to promote their products. While the most visible brand ambassadors are celebrity influencers, micro-bloggers can often get in on the action, too – they increase a brand’s visibility more locally. Another sponsored content format consists of paid for articles and blogs, which appear as editorials in an online publication.

So now we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the alignment with the government’s growth strategy. Chris Dehring spoke at the Jamaica Diaspora Conference a couple of months ago and he talked about the importance of creating alternative job opportunities for young people.

The insights that came out of the trip was that most of them want to live a digital nomad lifestyle. It seems pretty simple, but when you live on an island, you tend to only think about Jamaica and even some think smaller–only Kingston and St. Andrew.

Our aim is to create a network and community with bloggers/micro-influencers who want to monetize. We’ve invited Lauren Dunn, otherwise known as Lauren O Lauren to give a masterclass at CoWork on Thursday, July 18th. Lauren has been working in Silicon Valley and has been able to grow her following and monetize for the last few years. Please call 876 881-7830 to purchase tickets.

We’re also building a community of bloggers, content creators, photographers who want to collaborate. Please follow @lovenotlikesja on Instagram or email us at lovenotlikes@gmail.com for more information.

Confession: I’m a Social Media Snob and the Apps You Should Use to be one too.

So someone called me a social media snob the other day, and I’m not arguing. I like an aesthetically-pleasing feed.

Honestly though, I’m tired of the DMs from people asking me how they can get their feed looking good. This is very valuable top-secret information that I’m sharing with you (no it’s really not you can find it on the internet but i’m tired of the DMs guys…)

So you can get an Instagram husband to take pictures of you with a DSLR but most people use an iPhone and it works perfectly fine. If you don’t have someone to take pictures of you, you can get a tripod to set up your camera.

If you don’t have a lot of time to take pictures (like I do), you can try the following:

Free Stock images: UnSplash, Pixabay, Pexels. So although I am a content creator, some of the images on my feed aren’t mine. Yes, some of the images I get from free stock sites that match my aesthetic.  You don’t have to credit the photographers based on the license but they always appreciate it when you do. These images are copyright free. If you do decide to use someone else’s images, please get permission and credit them.

So once, you have your photos, you can mix them with quotes. I use a free tool called Canva . This is a great because there are templates you can use. There really isn’t any excuse as to why your feed can’t be off-the-chain.

Preview: Now die-hard social media people will know this app but for those of you are new and want to step up your game, it allows you to load your images and curate your feed. They also have a stock of free photos to choose from. This allows you pre-plan what your feed is going to look like.

So the idea is to seek balance and symmetry through colour. Choose images that are the same tone and match each other (but it ultimately depends what you’re looking for)

And you can use HootSuite to schedule and it’s free! I post in threes to keep my grid perfect. I’m also OCD, so I will delete something if I feel it doesn’t match my aesthetic.

Learn more about how to grow your instagram here.

Here some grid ideas so you can make your own cool feed.:

You can win with a checker board design

 

Create a white border to give this gallery effect

 

Tile your feed