Category Archives: News

Boom or Bust – The Future of Proximity In-Store Marketing

Boom or Bust – The Future of Proximity In-Store Marketing

Proximity Marketing

Not too long ago I tested out a number of proximity based apps in a few of New York’s larger retailer stores. As consumer habit continue to move towards mobile tech integration business are looking to get as up close and personal with shoppers as possible. Tailoring your in store experience based on where you are comes with a number of potential benefits. Below is the opening excerpt of a great piece discussing In-store proximity marketing. Check it out then hop over to the full post at the end.

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Today’s constantly connected consumers are using smartphones in-store more than ever. A recent Google survey states that a staggering 80 percent of shoppers are using smartphones to make purchasing decisions. Retailers and start-ups have taken notice, and the concepts of mobile location analytics and proximity marketing are emerging out of that.

Publications like Techcrunch and Adweek have articles of retailers launching Bluetooth beacon pilot programs almost on a daily basis. Some recent examples includeTarget, Country Market and Urban Outfitters. But when you clear away all the buzzwords, what exactly is this shift we’re seeing? It’s the world customizing itself to you. The world is reacting to your presence, specific to you as an individual.

Proximity marketing is an exciting concept, but a lot of people are worried they’ll be inundated with spam if they opt in.

That is an exciting concept. Talking about this out in the world will get you varying reactions, from concerns about privacy issues to the idea that your phone is going to spam you with Viagra ads non-stop, but if you boil down the idea, there are some really compelling concepts here.

Personalization Is A Key Benefit

Let’s take a look at a form of personalization we all know about today. A husband and his wife have individual key FOBs for their car. When the husband gets in the car, the mirrors adjust, the seat slides back, and the radio station changes to his favorite morning radio station. When his wife uses the car that evening, the car returns to her preferences. That’s an example of very useful personalization. Now, imagine if a retail store could do that for you.

We’ve seen online personalization become more and more sophisticated over the past decade with platforms such as Google AdWords and the Facebook Audience Network, and the addition of proximity marketing technologies is making it possible to expand that personalization in-store, effectively bridging the gap between digital and physical environments. There are both exciting and scary possibilities to this.

So, why can’t retailers live without it? The retailer will now be able to understand shopper behavior beyond POS data. Retailers currently have the ability to analyze traffic patterns, deliver personalized offers, measure dwell times, build on customer loyalty profiles and even A/B test physical displays. And what does the shopper get? By integrating this technology into a retailer’s app, the shopper gets an ultra-personalized experience through customer-specific offers, location-specific coupons and contextual information such as maps and menus.

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But the question that keeps coming up is: Will shoppers adapt to this kind of experience? If users don’t adopt the technology, hockey stick graphs will never happen for retailers. I think of a Sheryl Sandburg story I’ve heard during her presentations several times. When Caller ID first came out, users were scared by it. They thought the concept of knowing who’s calling before you picked up was creepy. Now, 20+ years later, we don’t pick up our phones without knowing who’s calling.The user’s perception of the technology completely flipped over a couple of decades.

It seems a general consensus among investors and marketers that someone will figure out and win the proximity marketing race.

***See the full Article Here via Topal.com***

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2017 Social Media Cheat Sheet

2017 Social Media Cheat Sheet

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The new year is underway and as you set out to execute your business plans it’s always nice to look over your presence online and make sure your business is being represented to the best of its abilities. From the proper dimensions on your profile images to the ideal time to post content, there is a science to this digital world. Fresh from the good people at SWM. Here’s a convenient cheap sheet you can cross reference your activity with to get the most out of all the major platforms. Just hit the jump for the full sheet.

You’ll also want to check out this collection of apps and tools that will add tons of value to your social media activity. I use more than half of these tools and can vouch for them. See the link at the end of the jump.

Continue reading 2017 Social Media Cheat Sheet

Hip Hop is Dead…10 Years Later Nas Looks Back

Hip Hop is Dead…10 Years Later Nas Looks Back

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In 2006 Hip Hop was a very interesting place. While powerhouse names like Eminem, Jay-Z and Kanye West were still dominate, the mainstream is fully in the midst of a revolution led by the new music makers of the south. Lil Jon’s Crunk movement was turning out ultra energized club hit after hit. Atlanta’s Trap had invaded the scene as artists like T.I, Jeezy and Gucci Mane were just as well known in a city like New York as Jadakiss or Camron. And let’s not forget Ludacris and his DTP camp who would occupy multiple chart slots at a time. The Hip Hop landscape was changing and it was not going unnoticed by one of Hip Hop’s greats. In the view of Nasir Jones, he would tell you “Hip Hop is Dead.” I remember my personal excitement awaiting that release of this album. My Hip Hop taste is very NY for all the good, bad ad ugly of it. Nas’ attempt to being things back to the essence was a rallying cry for many even if it was short lived.

10 years since it’s scene shaking release Nas looks back on the Hip Hop Is Dead album that many rallied behind while even more rallied against. Unintended regional tensions resulted from Nas’ claim that the core elements of Hip Hop, music, wordplay, storytelling and lyricism had been given up for childish, hooks and low grade concepts. Linking up with Google Play and Mass Appeal, Nas delivers a 4 part digital documentary on the this controversial album.

“In retrospect, I missed the mark by miles,” he admits. “I didn’t want to pick people apart. I felt like that was for a younger artist to do. I thought the title was enough — to say it’s dead it was to say, ‘I don’t know where to begin, I don’t know where to start.’ But at least I’ll name it this and we’ll see what goes from there.”

Hit the jump to view the other 3 installments of the doc. Watch as Nas speaks on everything from the album title, his long anticipated collaboration with Jay-Z, to his current view of the culture and his present role in it.

Continue reading Hip Hop is Dead…10 Years Later Nas Looks Back

2016 The Year That Changed It All

2016 The Year That Changed It All

Digital Daddy, Social Media Samurai
Is this the end of the Social Media Samurai

Look around. Admittedly things have been a little quieter around here than many of you may be used to. The year 2016 was a monster for many people for a lot of reasons. While the theme of high-profile death has dominated the conversation recently, it’s been a focus on gain and new life that has been the signature of my year. From self-centered to selfless, my life went from 0 -100 with the May 27th arrival of my son, Maximus Xaiver Francis. Nothing was the same since.

Max’s birth came with me relocating to Philadelphia and a drastic shift in how I operated. My networks were changed, my access to certain levels of business were reduced and overall it was if I had just hit a mega reset button on my life. I’ve never been a person that took things and people for granted but the new perspective of my situation immediately made me see my daily New York routine in a different light. The small things that brought balance to my life that were no longer available weighed heavy on me for much of my time away from NY.

What really countered that feeling of displacement was a the beauty and happiness that washes over me everything I saw the innocent smile of my baby boy. Knowing nothing of the insane world around him, he only asks for love and protection. All the cliches’ are true regarding how a child makes you feel and how it changes you. As much as continue to juggle thoughts and feelings around my new status quo, I’ve never once looked at Max with anything but love and pride.

2016 forced me to change. It forced me to prove myself in ways I never thought. Those tests are still ongoing but I feel a renewed power and strength within me for what is to come on many levels. Social Media Samurai is not going anywhere. As I adapt to my new reality the brand will adapt as well. Who I am and what I am about will be revealed more as I expand SMS into new territory. With the growth of my own Tribe I will re-emerge stronger with a determination to get things done no matter what.

The previous 366 days at times knocked me down. There were many moments of doubt and frustration regarding all important aspects of my life, but as the saying goes if you are brought to it then you can make it through it. I’m here and ready to make 2017 a banner year for me and my loved ones. I’m not who I once was yet I’m still me. I’m better. For my son I will never stop evolving.

2017, it’s nice to finally meet you.

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SAMURAI RIDES: HAPPY HOLIDAYS W/ THE 2017 MAZDA 6

SAMURAI RIDES: HAPPY HOLIDAYS W/ THE 2017 MAZDA 6

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It’s the most wonderful time of year!! Or it’s the perfect opportunity to get your mind off the crazy happenings in the world. Either way welcome to the holidays. Your Social Media Samurai is riding clean into Thanksgiving and Christmas with new 2017 Mazda 6 Grand touring!!

Mazda has won a very solid spot with me over the past couple years. They’re cranked out a number of great rides offering a little something for everyone. You last caught me driving the gorgeous Mazda CX -9 down in Atlanta for my Nomadness Tribe Reunion weekend. This time we’re turning up the family vibes and cutting down the scale of things. With Thanksgiving dinner seeing about a dozen people followed by some QT with my son Max and my parents, I didn’t need as big a vehicle as the CX-9. My northeast antics were ideal for the new Mazda 6. When a quality 4 door sedan can still drive you that sports car feel you’re in for a good time.

More at MazdaUSA.com
More at MazdaUSA.com

Naturally the first thing you have to ask yourself is whats new about that 2017 Mazda 6 from last years model? If you left it up to a simple eye test you might say not too much. Although with the sleek design of the 6 that’s not a bad thing.  You do get new headlight to front grille trim lighting. It’s a mean look at night but most of the 2017 changes took place inside the ride. You’ll notice the steering well is now the same design as the CX-9 and includes heating functions for those chilly winter nights. The driver info display screen and the flip-up dash design both have been upgraded to color screens from their preciously unimpressive black and white scheme. The real killer in appearance is when you step up to the Grand Tour Premium package. You get the choice of black or almond-colored nappa leather seats with titanium-gray piping and stitching! Not to mention the extra black trimming. Mazda never hands back on luxury interior design options.

As great as that is, now having my son in the ride with me, safety is as high on the priority scale as ever. I raved about the Mazda 6 safety features in my 2016 review. This time around the i-Activsense powered anti-collision sensors are able to identify pedestrians and  smaller moving objects in addition to other vehicles. The auto brake emergency features now is active in a 9mph to 99mph range. That’s up 9mph on the high-end. Mazda has also tightened up steering reactions on corner with their G-Vectoring control system. I definitely felt it and with these other improvements Mazda driver can continue to feel safe on the road.

A photo posted by nightfall914 (@nightfall914) on

Yes, yes all this sounds great but nothing beats that hands on, real road riding. Smooth handling on the 95 north as I head from Philadelphia on Thanksgiving eve set the pace for me. During a very active traffic period the Mazda 6 had me feeling I was in a different place. Heated seats for the backed up Black Friday traffic kept me in comfort. Christmas tunes played on XM radio, setting the holiday mood on BOSE speakers. I had no complaints.

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Max and I had a little photo shoot and the Mazda 6 let Max nap on the way to the studio and back which made things that much easier for me.

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The Holidays get stressful for many people. Crowds, lines and traffic statistically send the road rage incidents up but while some folks lose their minds, I’m moving about with 100% peace of mind in the Mazda 6. Mazda has found a great balance between power, style and luxury. What’s more is that they have done so in pretty affordable fashion. You can hop over to the Mazda website for an even deeper look into the 6. I’m sure you’ll see something you like.

**Check Out My Previous Auto Reviews**

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A Social Media Assist For Cyber Monday

A Social Media Assist For Cyber Monday

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It’s that time of year when the holiday shopping season officially opens up! After all the Thanksgiving food has settled and the left overs are put away you turn your attention to the mega savings in your favorite store on and offline. This is also an important time for entrepreneurs. Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are made for those whose brands operate heavily via digital spaces. That is where I come in. Are you fully maximizing your online activity? How is your engagement with your followers? There are so many thing people often overlook that can make so much difference in the business they generate. Starting today, Cyber Monday and running until Christmas, I’ve cut my most popular service the Social Media Audit by 33% so for $100 I will dive into your online operations to lay out plans and real attainable goals for you and your business. You won’t be disappointed.

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Management & Consultation

The Social Media Samurai is always ready to help you. Are you looking for guidance with your digital strategy? Perhaps you need someone to speak to your organization about navigating social media in today’s ever-changing business environment? I can provide that and more. I’ve cut my audit service down for the holidays so it’s even easier to get started on the road to more success.

Contact me via contact@thesocialmediasamurai.com

At the very least make sure you stay connected with me across these Internets.

Hit the various links below to follow me on social media.

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The Sky Fell And We’re Still Here – Election 2016 1 Week Later

The Sky Fell And We’re Still Here [Election 2016 1 Week Later]

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It’s never been my way to rush to comment The bigger the issue the more time I give it so I can digest and really figure out what I’m feeling. Last week most of us were either waking up to news of the elections results or we were waking up wondering if what we witnessed election night was a dream. Nope, I wish I could say it was but 11/8/2016 saw the total shattering of the U.S political system as we know it when majority electoral votes won Donald Trump the U.S Presidency. There are an endless number of fingers to point if the blame game is your thing, but at this point I just want to look at us in terms of what next and what can we do with the cards we’ve been dealt, The rules of the game have been forever changed so it’s time to adjust.

Everyone’s lives are different. How folks exist day-to-day varies so individually there is self assessment of resources, plans and goals that need to be fine tuned. The new players in town aren’t here for us. It’s arguable that most of the old players weren’t here for us either. Making moves outside of the norm is becoming more essential with every passing day. Being able to do more with less has always been a key survival key and even those in steady financial standing should understand that stretching a dollar is good business in any case. We don’t fully know what Trump has in store for us but even now rumors build of tax hits and aid cuts to single mothers and lower-income families. Sharpen your skills and be open to earning opportunities outside the usual channels. Every dollar counts.

While getting the flow of funds in order there are other more immediate results from this election that are already in motion within our society. Trump’s win has put the super charged battery in the back of blatant, no punches pulled ignorance and racism. To say that people have been emboldened would be an understatement. There is already an increase of hate crimes, bullying and assaults and we’d be fooling ourselves to think it’ll get better anytime soon. With that being said I think there may just be an opportunity here for us. It’s been proven that the system is not for us. It never has been so in these times if ever it was essential for true unity and community building it’s now. Be your brother’s keeper, look out for the neighbor, step up when the ignorant and wicked make their presence felt in our space. One of the biggest things about America is that the basic level of comfort so many of us have makes us apathetic and slow to act when it’s most needed.  I honestly think this is the space where we can do the most good in the quickest amount of time. Showing that we will not be bullied, disrespected or violated is essential to the time we’re entering.

I’ve watched many people express their feelings about this election cycle. From the moment of Barack Obama’s 1st election win, Republican forces set on a path of obstruction and racially charged disrespect that America has never seen launched at a President. Unbeknownst to them they were indirectly creating the perfect storm that would eventually destroy their own party. Yet the truth is the neither party has ever really been for us. They pander to us for votes when needed then we sit and watch the same status quo play out. This is a wake up call across the board to the entire system.

If the people are ever going to be heard and felt it will be now as the forces of intolerance and hate mount up to ride over all those that don’t fit the twisted vision they have for this world. What makes this all the more concerning is that Trump truly does not know the role he was stumbled into. It’s one thing to be knowledgeable with negative intentions but to be ignorant on top of that creates the most dangerous of situations.

Disturbing times are here and please understand that we need to be there for each other. There’s no other way that this ends well for us. No matter what Trump attempts I truly believe a united people can overcome. Do we have true unity within us? Only time will time.

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In the mean time, while society is doing what it can, I have my young son to bring up and protect. He is priority 1, 2 & 3 regardless of what administration is in charge. It’s never a dull moment out here but we’re ready for it.

 

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SAMURAI SIT DOWN W/ HIP HOP PUBLICIST SANDRINE AKA DRINEEE “THE HOPE DEALER”

SAMURAI SIT DOWN W/ HIP HOP PUBLICIST SANDRINE AKA DRINEEE “THE HOPE DEALER”

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It’s been a while since I last interviewed someone so its with great pleasure that I share this latest edition of Samurai Sitdown. I’ve always been about shining light on good people doing work that you may not be ever of or just good people in general. We need a lot more positive energy in these crazy times and this woman’s constant flow of hope filled, encouraging words in the midst of her steady Hip Hop representation are one of the things I look forward to while navigating these Internets. A jewel that’s been tucked away in the Dirty South, let me introduce you to Texas’s own Ms Sandrine.

A video posted by sandrine ✨ (@drineee) on

Can you please introduce yourself and tell us what you do? 

My name is Sandrine, also known as Drine, or Drineee on all social media platforms for all intents and purposes lol.  I’d like to say I wear many hats, or at least I try to anyway. Since 2011 I’ve transitioned from hip-hop journalist, to record label marketing rep to publicist. Oh, I’m also in finance as well.

It’s a pleasure to finally chop it up with you. Thank you for you time and lets hop right into things. Proper representation of culture and self are a big issue in many spaces right now. What does culture mean to you? In terms of Hip Hop, Nationality and Region?

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Hip Hop culture is one the most powerful forces in our society, period.  It started as a creative outlet and has turned into something way bigger than I think anyone could imagine.  When we saw politicians worrying about what 2Pac had to say, I think that’s when it really resonated that this was way deeper than rap. It’s more than music, it’s a way of life.  There are so many layers to it and I think that’s why we love it so much. 

True. That’s why we love it and why so many before us hate and fear it.

There’s a song for hustling, for your mama, for the come up, for love, for death and for everything else and the best part – it’s all genuine.  It’s easy to make a pop hit but it lasts a year, if that, and if they’re lucky, maybe some years because really, they aren’t talking about shit. When you make music with meaning it’s always going to outlast music for the moment.  

Continue reading SAMURAI SIT DOWN W/ HIP HOP PUBLICIST SANDRINE AKA DRINEEE “THE HOPE DEALER”

NMDN Conference Returns / Nomadness 5th Year Anniversary

NMDN Conference Returns / Nomadness 5th Year Anniversary

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Many things come with the end of September. In those final days we see the official end of Summer, Football season hits the 1st quarter mark and the Tribe of Nomadness flocks to New York City for its annual celebration and newly launched business conference. This year The NMDN Conference enters year 2 while the overall Nomadness movements hits its 5th year of existence. Having been here from the beginning it’s an interesting time to reflect back on humble beginnings and where Nomadness presently is.

We were again blessed with perfect weather for the final weekend of September. With Nature doing her part, NMDN set up commenced that Friday with decorations, displays, accessories and more being delivered to the venue. As is generally the case I secured the adult beverages for the big night. There is no truer sign of an official Nomadness event then me navigating a city with a ride full of libations.

5 years of Tribe…… Its that time of year! #Nomadness

A photo posted by nightfall914 (@nightfall914) on

As preparations were being finalized, our Nomadness family started to make its way into the city. Wrapped around the actual events of the weekend, Tribe held meet ups, brunches and various smaller gatherings all in the name of Nomadness fellowship.

I can’t help but think of all that has taken place since the 1st 100 members. The faces that have come and gone, the events, trips and bonds made. Not to mention those broken. From a small digital collective has come global acknowledgement, media recognition and a reach that literally spans the planet. It can all be a bit humbling at times. I watch it all from a unique position. High Council, Best Friend, Guardian…..I have various titles, many roles I’ve played but all of them stand in support of the Tribe. I know I saw something in this group early on but I’d be lying to say I saw all that it has become and all it would come to mean to me and so many others.

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Now Nomadness functions as a global resource for current and future generations of Urban travelers. From international business inquiries, to medical info, on the ground local knowledge of cities and towns, media connections across continents, Nomadness has grown into a position of being the stand out network for our people’s traveling needs. Along the way, the Tribe has steadily been the incubator to so many other travel groups and collectives that it’s value can not be measured solely in its own accomplishments but in the over reaching growth of many others.

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NMDN in 2016 showed major signs and growth and maturity as it took on a more serious travel tone then the previous year, as much more sensitive topics were brought forward to the various panels. #BlackLivesMatter, LGBTQ Travel & 911 Travel Info were just some of the topics that stood out at the conference. Powerhouse personalities like Necole Kane & YK Hong were among our guests speakers. Helping to pull things together appearance wise, hosting/lodging giant AirBNB was one of the top sponsors which included a couple of specialty AirBNB lounges furnished by Best Home Fashion.

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There were a lot of moving  parts both physically and logistically but I mus say that from behind the scenes, one of the biggest things I noticed was just how seamless the day went in transitioning from panel to panel. After doing this the first time there was definitely a sense of calm as the event proceeded along. The guest panelists enjoyed their time on our stages. The attendees networked while taking in vital info. Plus they received a first look into the upcoming Nomadness mobile app. 

That smooth flowing vibe would carry over into the evening Anniversary party were even more Nomadness members from around the world came through to toast to another year of travel. As our Tribe family danced to the tunes of DJ Likwid and cheered on the recipients of the annual Nomadness awards, they were also treated to a few surprises via event sponsor GOPRO. 

Half  way into a decade and Nomadness is showing little sign of slowing down. With new initiatives, services and products lined up to add even more value to the growing international network, year 6 is shaping up to be its biggest one yet.  

I’ve witnessed what started with a small hookah lounge meet up grow into worldwide force that as I type this has taken over a full town in Hungary. There is definitely a lot to celebrate. Most importantly is the ability to connect and enjoy life with our peers from around the world.

Check a few of the party images below and stay locked in for everything Nomadness has on deck.

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YMS 2016 Conference Hits New York City

YMS 2016 Conference Hits New York City

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As fast as you can blink there are new apps, new sites and new platforms for communication and social interaction. No one has there fingers on that digital pulse like the 16 to 24 year old portion of our society. Millennial influence on business is what directs and shapes so many industries and last month in Brooklyn, NY, London-based Voxburner launched a 2 day event focused solely on the thoughts, ideas and business desires of that demographic. In addition to that I had the pleasure of being a part of a panel speaking  on the importance of community management in this new digital market.

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There were dozens of companies represented at YMS and professionals across numerous fields sharing their insights on the current climate of business from mainstream media news trends to creative platforms for upcoming artists. Sprinkled about Industry City, YMS provided refreshments, lounge and work space both inside and out. Free headshots could be had while various brands showcased their latest products and services.

 

I was glad to be there representing Nomadness within the Travel industry for the first time.

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There is so much that took place. Voxburner recaps their event here. Check out the images, sponsors and downloadable presentations provided. I’ll be sharing my panel discussion very soon too.

Curious what businesses the youth are responding to? Check out YOUTH 100.
Curious what businesses the youth are responding to? Check out YOUTH 100.

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