Interview with Dean Morris: The Vinelist


What is the Vinelist?
The Vinelist is a unique way to find the stores who have what you want to buy without the hassle of leaving home or doing an extensive search yourself.
How does it work?
Currently by visiting the site and clicking “Sign in/Signup” you’ll be lead to a sign p form where you can sign to the vinelist. You can then upload a picture, link or search for an image that matches what you’re looking for. Then you enter the description of a product you’re interested in.
 The system then searches through known merchants who would best meet those wants, and notifies the customer with their stocks and promotions. Hundreds of users have already signed up and requests are submitted daily, evidence to the fact that a demand for the service is existent.
As a consumer how can I benefit from the Vinelist?
 We’re making life easier for our users. The convenience of not having to search for items, to spend possible hours on the road looking for that phone case or even that dress for that event. We’re allowing our users to never settle for anything less than they want, while making their lives easier.
As a business owner how can listing with the Vinelist improve business?
 The Lifeblood of any business is sales. We enable businesses to make sales by informing users of your product offering when the business reply to a want.
We’re fundamentally aimed at solving problems that merchants face every day; a depletion in foot traffic and sales. As websites like Amazon continue to grow and local couriers make it easier for consumers to purchase and ship products online, merchants who sell the same products locally are losing business simply because not enough people know they exist.
Merchants seeking to establish an online presence and securing the fraction of the market that is tech based can utilize the portal to meet their own target market, and execute marketing and promotional strategies. The first official release of the product aims to host several value added features such as a social interface that allows consumers to share, interact and exchange wants, a smart keyword library to notify merchants of new demands, as well as key data points used to understand the demands of the market; valuable data for the growing business.
 For now the team is using its beta to learn what values are important to both consumers and merchants so that they can keep building the right product for the current market.
How many businesses have signed on so far? How many are you projecting will sign on in the future?
 So far 15 businesses  have signed up, and based of the projections that we have made,in  2016 this number will increase to about 50 as our capacity increases.
Is it mostly clothing apparel and shoes? What other items are you looking to include?
For now, Fashion and Technology has been our major focus. But we sometimes get some want that are outside which we fulfill happily because  it helps to validate our business model. As the wants for an industry become more focused and if the data we have gathered points to a particular industry or sector we will invite the player of that industry on to our platform.

Are Mobile Wallets and Internet Banking Safe?

Source: Shutterstock

With the immersion of cyber attacks wreaking havoc on the world, especially in the US lately, (The U.S. personnel chief just resigned after a data breach, causing personal information of employees and family members to be disclosed) are mobile wallets or the future of online banking truly safe?

Mobile Internet Usage Growing

I’m not a techie, but try to keep abreast of the varying technologies, particularly as it relates to Jamaica’s advancements. According to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica Population Census (published in 2011) and the World Economic Forum: The Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015, 75.50% of Jamaica’s population have a mobile phone but have never used mobile internet. However, 14% of those people are accessing the internet using their mobile phone and this is increasing as more wi-fi hotspots become available and people are catching on to the convenience of it.

Once they start to come to depend on their mobile as we know many of us have, it may be safe to say that mobile wallet will be more convenient for most than even internet banking. With varying threats on our cyber security in Jamaica (a few weeks ago JIS and some other government agencies were hacked) how can we know for sure mobile wallet will be considered safe?

Right now the latest mobile wallet on the market is Connec, which allows you to pay for bills, send money to other people, even top up your phone! No bank account needed. However, with 8.4% of Jamaica’s population using internet banking, what motive would a Jamaican have to use the services of a mobile wallet?

Majority of Jamaicans still Trust Traditional Banking Methods over Internet Banking

As much as Jamaicans will say that they don’t trust that our banking services have the safety measures required to prevent hacking, and still prefer the old methodology of going to the bank and standing in the line to do their banking, some would argue, that’s really not a bad thing after all.

YouTube Show called Bredin Code Makes Waves

Have you ever heard of the MTV show, “Guy Code”? It’s a basically a show that discusses things that appeal to men, everything from, “how to break up with a girl” to hygiene tips and the list goes on.

Online Influencing Offline

A few Jamaican friends decided to come together to start their own online tv show, called “Bredrin Code”. What makes this even more interesting is that it’s not just for laughs. These kids are using the show to promote their party on July 30th at the Quad. This shows the ingenious way online can influence offline. Watch one of the episodes below:

Bikram Yoga Challenges you to Mek a Muscle

CI2DAUaW8AQ-J_9Everybody’s wondering about this #EveryMickleMekaMuscle Challenge. What is it about really? Well it’s pretty simple, each day this month Bikram Yoga is challenging you to “strike a pose”! A yoga pose that is. Very similar to the days of planking, this challenge also invites you to take the time to practice your yoga poses.

Strike a Pose

It’s a great initiative to get people active as well as, great exposure for Bikram Yoga. Take a picture every day this month of your pose using the hashtag #EveryMickleMekAMuscle.

The Way to Measure Social Media

Source: Social Media Today

Measurement of Social Media 

When we look at all the stuff brands are doing online to get attention above all the noise, we need to look at innovative ways to stand out in a crowd. However at the end of the day, it comes down to the ROI (Return On Investment).

As we look at the ROI of social media to dictate how a campaign is successful or not, we must also look at the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) :

Is the campaign successful in terms of getting the traction it should?

Are we getting a “buzz”?

Are people sharing organically?

Are people talking about it online as well as offline?

Brand Loyalty & Sales Spike

Surely, the impact of a campaign is no longer in just how much likes it receives. We also need to look beyond, not just if it is resonating with the target but if there is an increase in brand loyalty and ultimately, sales.

Social Media Day Jamaica #SMDAYJamaica: How the Popular Jamaican YouTubers do it

I missed the Social Media Week activities in 2015 for Jamaica and I must admit– I’m sorry I did. However, I’m watching the round-up of the YouTubers in Jamaica and how they do what they do.

It’s an inspiring video, not only are they giving you a breakdown of everything that you need to do to make the YouTube channel thrive but, it’s a step by step tutorial almost.

Strategy is Key

It shows you its not as easy as it might seem. Each of these presenters Dutty Berry, Quite Perry and Bella Blair have a comedic flair and natural acting ability.

What they all have in common and are very clear about it, is that they have a strategy. Watch the video and take notes.

Guest Blog: Why Facebook Isn’t Worth It for Small Businesses Anymore

Source: Shutterstock

If you run a small business, you probably have a Facebook Page. Unless you’ve had this page before 2009 (the early days), you’re probably crazy stressed from trying to keep it up and running. What used to be a ‘great way to connect with fans of your brand and make new ones for free’ is now ‘only 10 of my 2,000 followers saw my last post, maaan, Facebook can go to hell’.

Somewhere along the way (precisely around the time of Facebook’s IPO), things went south. Now there are several reasons why Facebook just isn’t a great fit for businesses trying to grow their brands and connect with others on a tiny budget.

Your Posts are Subjected to Facebook’s Complex Algorithm

If you’ve ever wondered why you have 500 friends and like 20 pages (for example) but you only ever see posts from the same 10 people every time you log on, that’s because Facebook algorithm is doing some serious voodoo on your timeline. It uses a complex algorithm that assesses when a post was made, how popular a post is, how often you interact with the person/brand that made a post, among other factors to determine what you see.

So what does this mean for businesses? Well, if you aren’t a super popular brand, or you don’t constantly post irrelevant memes and funny stuff that have nothing to do with your business, your posts are probably only seen by the miniscule fraction of super brand advocates, which is about 1-2% of your total likes. Ouch.

You Have to Pay for Advertising

To get those posts seen by more people, you gotta advertise. While Facebook advertising is fairly inexpensive, it’s still using money some businesses simply don’t have. Additionally, for small businesses handling their own social media (which I highly recommend), figuring out ads can be quite a difficult, time-consuming task.

You Have to Create Highly Engaging Videos

Back to that algorithm. Another factor it considers is the type of post. While you can post plain text, linked, image or video posts – not all of them are created equal. Nowadays, videos uploaded directly to Facebook are getting the most traction. Facebook claims it’s because that’s what people are into, but it probably has a lot more to do with it competing with YouTube videos.

Of course, the business’ response to this would be upload more videos, right? Wrong. Ain’t nobody got the time or the money or the patience for that. The second best type of post is photos, another money/time suck. So now, not only are you spending on promoting the content, you’ve got to spend on creating it too. All for benefits you might not even get.

You Can’t Really Connect

Social media marketing is about brands connecting with fans and potential fans right? Facebook used to do a fairly good job with the fan connection, but they never really facilitated connecting with potential fans.

Brands can only communicate with individual persons on Facebook if the persons initiates the conversation. This isn’t so on other social media platforms. This may not seem important until you realize just how much you can do with true two-way communication. On Twitter, for example, you can follow people and join in on hot topics or relevant discussions that started without you. Can’t do that on Facebook. You can also search keywords for persons looking for your service and reach out to them, even if they’ve never heard of you. Can’t do that on Facebook either.

Wrap It Up

Sure, there are some Facebook advocates out there saying ‘Facebook reach is not dead’. Some businesses might be afraid to let go because they already spent money and time building a sizeable audience. Others might say that they are fine with spending money to create content and reach their fans.

The question is, if there are other platforms out there that will get you more attention, more engagement and better relationships, wouldn’t the switch be worth it?

Stacy-Ann Hayles is a digital marketing consultant for solopreneurs and small businesses, who spends much of her time lurking in the corners of coffee shops and drawing eyebrows on her dogs. Learn more about her services here and feel free to send her a tweet (and coffee, she loves coffee).