Wayne Lapasa

Sharing my Digital Marketing thoughts one post at a time.

Attending STM’s 50th school anniversary

STM Turns 50

STM Turns 50

In 1993, I was just 12-years old in the sixth grade.  My elementary school St. Thomas More aka STM, was celebrating their 25th anniversary.  In May of that year, kids from kindergarten all the way to the eighth grade assembled for a large school photo and put it into a time capsule.  Each classroom participated and contributed items that would be put into that same time capsule and would later be opened at the school’s 50th anniversary.  25 years later on May 7th, 2018, I made sure to return to my roots and check out the festivities.

STM 50th Anniversary Presentation in the Large Gym

STM 50th Anniversary Presentation in the Large Gym

I attended the STM 50th anniversary with one of my childhood friends from the third grade.  When we got there, we arrived to see the current crop of elementary kids participating in a musical presentation for the audience.  Inside the gym, it was scattered with parents, faculty, former teachers and students that spanned decades.   A slideshow followed that highlighted 50 years of the school’s history.

When the presentation in the large gymnasium concluded,  people started to mingle and catch up with one another.  Unfortunately there weren’t too many people from my grade or even teachers for that matter that attended this reunion.   To be honest, the school did a terrible job of promoting the 50th anniversary.  You would think that in this social media age, they would use it to their advantage to spread the word around such a momentous occasion.  I found out about this 50th anniversary through the church that was next door to STM.  They had a weekly newsletter, that had a small mention about it.

Anyways not to get off track in my story, I went into the smaller gymnasium (our school had two gyms), looking to see the time capsule.   I was very intrigued to see the nostalgia inside that big wooden box that was padlocked for a quarter of a century.   From a pop culture standpoint what I remember during that spring of 1993, Hulk Hogan was WWF champion and the Blue Jays got off to a rocky start in what would be their eventual second World Series championship season.  The Maple Leafs were shocking the entire NHL and having an unbelievable playoff run at the time.  The Fresh Prince of Bel Air was a popular comedy show among my classmates and Lenny Kravitz’ ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way‘ was a really big record.

STM School Photo, May 1993

STM School Photo, May 1993

When I finally saw all the items from the time capsule spread across the table, my childhood memories started to kick in.  It was really cool to see what kind of stuff was inside there.   There was a dated newspaper inside there, with politician Jean Chrétien leading the headlines with his running for Prime Minister. There were baseball cards and hockey cards from the 1992-1993 season.   One class cut out fashion magazines and made collages, highlighting the fashion trends and styles of that year.  Two mixtape cassettes were found in there, ranging from all the popular artists at the time such as Snow, Nirvana, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey and Robin S to name a few.   There was a VHS tape that had footage of a videographer coming to everyone’s class earlier in the year and having them say something on camera.  They were playing that same video in the school’s library on an old TV that looked like this lol.

I was really disappointed that my class’ contribution, an ecosystem was not displayed on the table.   I remember we submitted some fishbowl looking glass display with plants and algae inside it…maybe when they opened it smelled funny or the water evaporated, I have no clue lol.

My classmates Lillian, Sylvia, me, Richard, Ivan and Heather

My classmates Lillian, Sylvia, me, Richard, Ivan and Heather

I started looking at the school’s large class photo trying to find myself in the portrait, while smiling and giggling at all the familiar faces I come across.  This lady nearby started talking to me and asked, “Were you in this picture?  What grade were you in when this picture was taken?”   I started to converse with her, thinking she probably was a teacher from before or after my time at STM.  Initially I did not recognize that the person I was talking to was actually my eighth grade english teacher, Mrs. D’Andrea.   I eventually clued in when I looked at her visitor name tag on her shirt.   Immediately I had a large grin on my face and reminded her that I was one of her students during the 1994-1995 school year.  I’m pretty sure she did not remember me at first (how many kids names can one person remember after being retired for a decade plus?), but I admired the fact that she took the time to talk to me.

We started reminiscing about that time period and name dropping other teachers who were her colleagues.  I inquired if she kept in touch with them or if they had planned to attend the reunion.   While it was a shame none of them showed up, I was happy to see at least see one of them and have this chat.

I reminded her that in the spring of 1995, we had a creative writing assignment and I wrote a piece on Magic Johnson, post NBA life.   I remembered her handing back the assignments in front of the whole class and she gave quick feedback to each student on their efforts.   When she got to my paper, she said “Wayne you surprised me with this.  You could have wrote a paper that focused on his championship accolades etc, but you focused more on his outreach with handling HIV, his philanthropic efforts and much more.  Great job.”   As I told her that story Mrs. D’Andrea had a smile on her face, but I had one more thing to say to her.

STM 50th Anniversary

My grade 8 teacher, Mrs. D’Andrea

I concluded by letting her know that, “If you didn’t hear it enough during your time as a teaching professional, if I never get the chance to see you again…on behalf of all my classmates, I wanted to say thank you.  Thank you for molding us, you know… shaping us…helping us prepare for the real word and sparking our creative writing outlets.”  As I was saying this, she started to get teary eyed, which wasn’t my intention but it happened anyways.   She gave me a great big hug and I think I made her day.   It was important for me to express my gratitude to her.  Teachers in general, play a huge role in the development of a child into an adult.  I’ll always be appreciative and respectful for teachers who really matter.

Growing up, my classmates thought she was an intimidating teacher.  An urban legend circled around for years that she once threw a desk at someone when she lost her cool lol.   I told her that myth and her body language did not confirm or deny the story, so I’ll leave that at that lol.  I can honestly say that I never encountered that as her student and she was great with us.  Overall, it was great to see Mrs. D’Andrea and thank her all these years later.

Attendees from STM's 25th Anniversary celebration, May 1993

Attendees from STM’s 25th Anniversary celebration, May 1993

The school’s 50th anniversary was cool to attend and look back on  many fond memories.   For me, I’ve always loved the school.  It was my training ground that groomed me into the person that I am today.  The education I received there helped me prepare for high school and life later on.   I also learned a lot about friendship and loyalty as well.  Some of my oldest friends come from STM and we’re always proud to remember our old stomping grounds.

Gone but not forgotten. Mrs. Rusak was my third grade teacher.

Gone but not forgotten. Mrs. Rusak was my third grade teacher.

It’s hard to see yourself in 25 years when you were just a child.  Now a days it’s hard alone to see what you are doing in the next two weeks sometimes.   I look back to that big school photo from 1993 and two of my friends are deceased.  It’s sad and unfortunate, they probably would have loved to attend this anniversary.

I posted the pictures on Facebook and many people had forgotten about the reunion and wished they were there.  The whole local event could have been better promoted.  But that’s not to say all of the organizer’s efforts should be discredited.  Thank you to everyone involved, who volunteered their time to make it happen nonetheless.  Next time if the school needs some promo, just holler at me…I’ll be your social media guy!   And I’ll see you at the 75th anniversary in 2043! ✌🏻

Full STM School Photo, May 1993

Full STM School Photo, May 1993

STM Class of 1994-1995

STM Class of 1994-1995

STM School Photo, Winter 2018

STM School Photo, 2018

Got to roam the hallways in the Shaq Attaq 1, which released in 1992-1993

Got to roam the hallways in a new pair of the Shaq Attaq 1, which released in 1992-1993

Are Kanye West’s Tweets damaging his career or just a vehicle to promote his next album?

Kanye West

Kanye West

Recently hip-hop artist and fashion designer Kanye West re-emerged on Twitter.  The outspoken rapper has remained quiet on social media for almost one year until now.  Many have known West to have temper tantrums, be outspoken and stir headlines.  His latest press have alienated his public perception more than ever after praising US President Donald Trump in his tweets.  While many predict he is on the verge of a major breakdown, here are three reasons why I think Kanye is in promotion mode.

He is an artist

Mr. West’s body of work cannot be overlooked. He is a 21-time Grammy award winner and has provided countless hit songs and albums as a producer and an artist himself.  His artistry branched off into the world of fashion with his Yeezy line, including his partnership with adidas, who helped the three stripes brand over take Jordan Brand as the number 2 shoe company in the United States.  As an artist, he expresses his thoughts in music and his visuals through his clothing. With Twitter, he’s using the platform to create a dialogue and engaging others whether his opinion is popular or not.

He is creating a buzz for his new album

Kanye was not happy with the album sales of his 2016 effort, The Life of Pablo.  A lot of it stems from the album being only exclusive to TIDAL.  He has since had a falling out with the JAY-Z owned streaming service, which many claimed hurt his bottom line sales in term of availability to the rest of the Spotify’s and Apple’s of the music industry.  So what better way for people to get Kanye talking about him and his music through Twitter?  While his thoughts are free speech, what he’s really doing is to help build a promotional vehicle for his upcoming album Love Everyone, which is scheduled for a June 1st release.

Not even John Legend can stop Kanye.

He likes to feed his own ego

Nobody loves Kanye West more than himself.  He is a confident personality and is looking for approval.  What we know about ‘Ye is that he is a creator, a producer and designer by trade.  He believes in his own ideas so much, that he’s willing to defend them no matter how controversial they may be.  Even his own close friends disapprove of his alliance with Donald Trump, but he wants people to express their opinion just like he has.  It’s ok to agree to disagree with Kanye West. He has built a career on sheer talent.  And while his artistry cannot be questioned, he accepts that his own antics are always met with bi-polar results.

End Point

People tend to jump to conclusions and question why people do what they do.  What are they motivated by?  What causes them to react and behave the way they do?  Kanye West is no different.  Even if he never released any more music, he’ll be considered as one of the greatest music artists of all time.  Despite his current climate of controversy, Kanye is going to  be Kanye.  You can consume all the hype that makes him who he is…you can continue to buy into all the crazy stuff that he tweets.  Or you can see the bigger picture.  He’s here to create anticipation for his next album.  He is releasing product in his own way and is ok to trip and fall regardless of public perception.  A free thinker will take chances despite what others say because its their path and its their story to tell. This is the life of Kanye.

Kanye West  / Charlamagne Tha God interview (05-01-18)

Will Smith is using Social Media to re-introduce himself to a new generation with great success

Will Smith

Entertainer Will Smith unquestionably is one of the most popular and successful actors since the early 1990’s.  The rapper turned actor gained fame on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air sitcom for six seasons, before transitioning into one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars.

However, in recent years his star has dimmed a bit.  Questionable movie roles and lack of audience interest finally caught up to Smith.  His days of grossing $100 million+ for eight straight films in the 2000’s were long gone.  Fast forward to 2018 and the movie industry has a new generation of fresh faces that have exploded onto the scene.  Even an established, charismatic and charming personality like Will Smith has seen his fair challenges.  The two-time Oscar nominee found his career at a crossroads with not so stellar box office receipts in recent years.

Instead of fading off into the sunset and walking away from the movie industry, Smith recently turned to social media to remind fans about the Will Smith brand.  Let’s look at what he’s done with digital in just a few short months.

Leverages social media influencers

On the December 14th, 2017 taping of the Ellen show, Will Smith promoted his new Netflix film, Bright. With the assistance of day time talk show queen Ellen DeGeneres, she playfully got Smith up to speed with how to use Instagram and take the best images.   One of Will’s signature traits is his humility, being able to make fun of himself on screen and in this case, he demonstrated it flawlessly.  It also didn’t hurt to have Ellen’s combined social media presence of over 180+ million followers help welcome Will to the ‘gram.

A little over one week later, Will Smith teamed up with YouTube star Lilly Singh aka IISuperwomanII to help produce a comedic video on Internet lingo.  The playful sketch saw the Independence Day actor poke fun of himself again, learning the ins and outs of social media language that his children Jaden and Willow use on a regular day basis.

Creates must see content

Even at age 49, Will Smith has found his way into reconnecting with his fan base.  There was already a coolness factor built into him and even as a parent, he has found many ways to stay relevant.  For instance, he uses his Instagram platform to share great life stories.  Instead of showing off materialistic items, he inspires millions by providing words of wisdom to everyone from all walks of life.  Smith might be older these days, but he’s still charming, he still has your attention and he continues to generate a positive light with his presence.

Will recently launched a YouTube channel to document his behind the scenes access of upcoming projects.  The channel is basically an extension of his IG platform, with a more vlog like feel that documents his comedic side, as well as travelling and exploring other countries around the globe.  While many might have thought Will had lost a step or two and was out of touch with his core audience, him joining these two social platforms allowed him to remind others of his iconic personality.  His not so lucky streak of under performing films in the entertainment headlines became his identity for a while.  Was he washed up?  Did he still have what it took to entertain the millions?  Now with his emergence on social media to such huge fanfare, the new strategy allows Smith to reconnect with fans and help launch his next projects with better leverage.

10 Million – THANK YOUS to my New Instagram Fam! . Obrigado | Gracias | धन्यवाद् | Grazie | شكرا | Merci | Danke Sehr | 谢谢 | Спасибо | ありがとうございました | ‎תודה | Ευχαριστώ | Mahalo | Gràcies | 감사합니다 | ขอบคุณครับ | Tak | Hvala | Děkuji | շնորհակալություն | Dankie | Faleminderit | Takk | Dank je | Tänan | Kiitos | Köszönöm | Ngiyabonga | Terima Kasih | Paldies | Ačiū | Благодарам | Grazzi | Баярлалаа | Dziękuję | Mulţumesc | Ďakujem | Tack | நன்றி | teşekkür ederim | Дякую | Diolch | Murakoze | ممنون | გმადლობ | Asante | Sag boluň . (Extra special thanx to you @roger.avary)

A post shared by Will Smith (@willsmith) on

If you can’t beat ‘em…join ‘em

With someone with such a vibrant personality like Will Smith, him joining Instagram and YouTube was a long-delayed process.  Originally he refused to cave in and join the trend.  But once he saw the power and success that the medium could have on an entertainer’s career, he finally gave it a shot.   The days of promoting a product were no longer surrounded by mystique – but rather by providing the consumer with more insight and access to the endorser.

Probably one of the greatest examples of this is Dwayne Johnson.  The former pro wrestler known as The Rock saw his film career elevate to unprecedented heights by being building his fan base with social media marketing, by being transparent with his audience and listening to them.  Upon entering the acting world in the early 2000’s, Johnson aspired to have a career like Smith, different but bigger.  18 years later, he recently surpassed Smith in total career box office gross numbers.

End Point

While Will Smith continues on with his two new platforms to get the public re-energized for his film career (he already had a Facebook page ran by his management), the key take away is that it allows him to connect to an entirely new generation of followers in the smartphone era.

In addition, the strategy behind Smith’s decision to star in a studio like film on Netflix was brilliant.  Some might have thought it was a demotion or a risky career move, but in the long run it could prove to be a future trend among other actors.  Netlix is the new medium and cultural trend.  And while consumers still watch movies in theatres, the water cooler conversations that take place the next day are centered by which Netflix content they consumed at home.

To stay relevant and to be consistent, you must take on an adapt or perish approach.  Will Smith knows his strengths as a personality,  so while his staying power value fell may have waned, he quickly got it back on track thanks to social media.  By mid-February, he landed number 1 on the Top Actors Social Media Ranking list in just eight weeks.  We will see how Smith does with future projects going forward…it’s safe to say he’s on the right path.

Will you give Vero a chance?


This past week, a new social media app made some noise called Vero.  I know what you are thinking…do we need another app to consume our daily lives?  Maybe we do, maybe we don’t.  Are you tired of using the same social media platforms?  This might be of interest for you.  It has a very clean and polished looking interface.  While Facebook has had a 10+ year run and Instagram just behind it with 8, competition always helps improve the existing products.  Here are few reasons why you might want to give Vero a chance.

Select which audience you want to share your posts with.

Select which audience you want to share your posts with.

Chronological Feed

This is probably the biggest request many users wanted back.  Facebook who also owns Instagram added algorithms to their feed a few years ago on the basis that your post would show up at the top of your app based on engagement (likes, comments).  And while some like to live in the dark and just creep away, others just want to see the posts arrive in traditional style, from newest post to oldest.  Vero brings that back.

Vero provides you with your own stats usage.

Vero provides you with your own stats usage.

Vero gives you multiple options

Some of the most frustrating parts of an app like Instagram is that it is a link less application (only to be seen in the bio section).  Vero incorporates weblink sharing including recommendations for movies, books and music.  They let you buy stuff without leaving the app.  Also, when it comes to viewing Instagram images, you have to hold your fingers to do a pinch zoom…with Vero you can simply zoom in once and it will hold your zoom for as long as you like.  This little small practice is a welcome addition for the user.

Vero provides a clean and polished interface.

Vero provides a clean and polished interface.

Ad Free

Say goodbye to sponsored posts and content that you never wanted to see in the first place.  Probably one of the highlights of Vero is that they don’t want to fill your feed with advertisements that you know you are going to scroll past anyways.   This is going to be a huge sell among users who are tired of seeing ads.  This is especially evident on YouTube where you have to wait a few seconds before you can view your desired content.  I wonder how Vero is going to make their revenues though lol.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, Vero has entered the social media game in a big way.  They originally launched three years ago, but the owner behind the app is billionaire Ayman Hariri and he is looking to make a huge splash.  Time will tell how Vero fares with social media users.

Personally, I am all in favour of new competition entering the marketplace, if they have a purpose and are different from their counterparts.  But I won’t jump on it until I know my own circle of friends start to download the app.   Will Vero sway people who have grown tired of the FB, IG’s and Snaps of the world? We will see if people will catch on with this app.

How Ronda Rousey used Social Media to hide her WWE debut

Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey (image credit: WWE)

This past Sunday, women’s MMA star Ronda Rousey shocked the wrestling world by showing up at the conclusion of the WWE’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view.   As one of combat sports’ most recognizable figures, her new career switch into the world of professional wrestling caught a lot of mainstream fans off guard.  Let’s examine how she used social media as a decoy to throw off the public that she was not going to appear at the Royal Rumble.

Tells TMZ she’s off to film a movie in South America

On Thursday, January 25, 2018, just four days before the Royal Rumble, Rousey was approached by TMZ at the airport.    Knowing that this footage would most likely be shared on social media through blog sites and smartphones, the former UFC women’s champion welcomed the paparazzi’s questions.  She was coy about her eventual jump to WWE, but truthfully did board a plane once the interview concluded.  It had been previously reported in the fall that she would be filming Mile 22 with Mark Wahlberg in Atlanta and Columbia.   This set the table as an early confirmation that Ronda would not be appearing in Philadelphia, the site of the Royal Rumble.

Enjoying some #Colombia cuisine with the #mile22 crew 🍵 #ajiaco

A post shared by rondarousey (@rondarousey) on

Uses Instagram to prove she’s actually in Columbia

For those who thought Ronda would not honor her movie commitments,  she posted a video on her Instagram account.  Dated Saturday, January 27 at 5:49 pm eastern time, Ronda was seen having dinner with the film crew in a Colombian restaurant.  This should have seemed to be enough to convince her fans and the MMA/wrestling audience that appearing at the Royal Rumble was just not going to happen.   Probably the icing on the cake was that her make up artist posted a picture of Rousey in her trailer on Sunday, January 28 – the actual day of the Royal Rumble event.

With Instagram, unless the live video feature is enabled, you can never really tell if the images you see on the platform are in real time or post dated.   People in general assume images are recently uploaded within a few hours of them being taken.  In this case, kudos to the Ronda and the WWE for using the platform to show that while fans will flock to Instagram for information, they can easily fool the public at the same time.

Ronda Rousey’s pre-recorded ESPN interview airs moments after the Royal Rumble

WWE’s relationship with ESPN allowed a mainstream outlet to help boost coverage of their signing of Ronda Rousey to the world.  The legitimacy of the sports broadcaster, known to break big sports new stories, immediately ran this interview following the conclusion of the Royal Rumble pay-per-view.  WWE Shop also started selling the walk out t-shirt Rousey wore within minutes of the Rumble finishing on the WWE Network.  It is safe to say that her debut was calculated and had been planned for months leading up to her debut.

Ronda Rousey's Twitter analytics

Ronda Rousey's Twitter analytics

Ronda Rousey’s Twitter analytics via Sysomos


Social media is a powerful tool.  In this day and age where people are looking for information online, it can also be used a tool to misguide as well.  Ronda Rousey’s arrival in professional wrestling comes at a time where the industry is featuring more female talent than ever before.  While she did not compete at the Royal Rumble, WWE is saving her in-ring competition debut for their biggest show of the year.  Look for her to be heavily promoted in the main event of WrestleMania, this coming April.

For a sports entertainment company like the WWE, they are constantly using digital to communicate with their audience.   Personalities take to their social accounts to help build their rivalries.  They keep interest in their storytelling by keeping the consumer engaged.  And in the case of Ronda Rousey…where her debut could have been botched or leaked, WWE is a shining example of how a company can utilize social media and protect a surprise, which is no easy task in today’s digital world.

Ronda explains how she left Columbia to make it in time for the Royal Rumble

Ronda Rousey’s WWE debut at the Royal Rumble


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