The Importance of Relevance

March 15, 2013
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Like IconRelevance is key for relationships and relationships motivate people towards movements and purchases. It’s all about relevance. You have to be relevant to your audience or client otherwise you’ll never be able to win them. Having goals and values are all well and good, but without personal relevance to the consumer your values are meaningless. You either have to have values or a mission which are already relevant or you must build a relationship to establish your relevance in order to obtain the confidence to present your values and your mission and your ideal without seeming “preachy”.

Even this term has a connotation based in the idea of relevance, as it refers to a preacher or priest. Priests and preachers are being viewed more and more as the church’s irrelevance. An out of touch figure who speaks down on the masses and tells them what to do and what not to do. No one wants to be spoken down to and very few people are interested in complete conformity. However, it’s what we were used to in our religion. This isn’t how it has to be though. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say “you must build buildings with linear rows of seats where people can sit silently and hear my divine word amplified and echoing down upon them”. Rather he says “where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am also”. Jesus went out into the world and interacted with the people inter-personally. He spoke to them in city centers and in their houses and at dinner tables as well as in the temple.

So what does all this religion-y stuff have to do with relevance in marketing? Think of it this way: what outmoded cultural systems involve the few communicating ideals, values, missions and tasks downward to the many? If you answered broadcast media then you’ve been paying attention. If not, I’d suggest looking up some statistics. Mobile and social media are where people’s eyes are today, mine included, so we need to work to meet them there.

As pointed out by Gary Vaynerchuk, banner ads and billboards aren’t the currency of this new media ecosystem, it’s relationships. People aren’t on Facebook to comment on photos of new menu items at Taco Bell. They’re there to interact with their friends, and if brands they like are there then that’s a fine added bonus. As marketers it’s our job to create a form of friendship or other relevance with users. Not so they’re logging onto Facebook to look at our restaurant’s profile, but so that they stop there on the way to making plans for the night with another friend.

That process is going to look different for every brand, because every brand has a different audience. It’s also going to be a process that changes from year to year. There’s no secret sauce to this. It takes just as much (if not more) work as maintaining a few thousand real friendships. You can’t measure relevance in dollars, and there’s no concrete ROI of each comment on your status, but building a personal relationship with your audience or customers will be well worth it in the end.

Hey Qurl Check Me Out on Listen or Don’t

March 5, 2013

This past weekend I had the pleasure to appear on Listen or Don’t with Tim and Paul, an internet radio show/podcast run by my dear friends Tim Miller and Paul Mayersky. Tim and Paul are fantastic guys with great taste in tunes and comedy, and their show is a great outlet for those tastes. I was honored when Tim asked me last month if I was interested in appearing on the show, and had an absolute blast in the studio with them.

Though they don’t know what to call it, Tim and Paul’s show is a great content curation. They have excellent segments like “Guilty Pleasure” songs, weird news, movie reviews and Tim’s album of the week (which is always a treat, though we didn’t have time for it on this episode). Topics on this week’s show included: snow sculpture, iPad hoaxes, The Academy Awards, and of course the origins of the term “qurl”. You can listen to the show in podcast form after the jump if you’re so inclined.

Listen or Don’t with Tim and Paul- Episode 6 Season 1 (March 1, 2013) by Listen Or Dont Withtim & Paul on Mixcloud

Listen or Don’t airs live on on Friday nights from 8pm-10pm with live trivia, request periods and more in-studio eccentricities. You can also subscribe to the show on Mixcloud to receive the podcast version when it’s uploaded each Saturday after the recording. And don’t forget to follow Listen or Don’t on twitter for updates throughout the week as well as interaction during the show.

I’m also excited to announce that Tim is one of my partners on an upcoming YouTube project that’s in a similar vein. I’ll have more on that once the details and logistics get ironed out, but we’re hoping to get off the ground this summer. If you’re into music and/or popular culture and want to get on board with this one shoot me an email.

Windows 8 Apps I’m Waiting On

January 24, 2013

I found out this week that my Windows 7 Installation had some corrupt files in it that were causing some issues. So rather than having to clear my whole hard drive and just re-install Windows 7 I decided to capitalize on the uber cheap Windows 8 Upgrade Offer (only $15!) and moved up to Microsoft’s new hybrid OS.

I’m still pretty new to Windows 8, and don’t know nearly enough yet to write a good review. Instead I thought I’d write a list of some of the apps I think the OS needs.

1. An Official Twitter App

It’s apparently in the works, but I seriously can’t stress how frustrating every free Twitter app for Windows 8 is. I’m not willing to buy one, because I can always just run good old fashioned Tweet Deck in Desktop Mode, but I cannot wait to get a full featured Modern UI Twitter app that actually opens my feed up where I left off rather than at the top (I’m looking at you MetroTwit).

2. An Update to Evernote

I live in Evernote. I keep school notes, project plans, and even daily stuff like grocery lists in it. It was the first app I installed in Windows 8. Imagine my surprise when I found out that it only supports Simple Text Editing, and you can’t default to Notebook view. I can’t take lecture notes without bullet points, and I’m certainly not going to browse through two years of notes on the home screen when I just need to look up one vocabulary term or phone number.

3. Pocket (aka Read It Later)

I just started using Pocket this week and I’m already totally reliant on it. I’ve queued up tons of articles and videos to keep me busy whenever I get downtime. Unfortunately I have to jump out to the browser to access what is essentially a Modern UI webapp from Pocket anyway. I’d love to just be able to launch this as a standalone, and also share things to it from other apps.

4. Buffer

Buffer is another recent addition to my app suite. For the uninitiated it queues up your tweets and status updates for you, so that when you find something cool at 1:00 AM your network will actually see it on their feed later on when they’re online and active. Being able to share to Buffer straight from the Share Charm would be most excellent.

5. Tumblr

Of all the social networks that could develop Win8 Apps, I figured Tumblr would be the first to jump at the chance. Their image-centric system would look excellent in the Modern UI. I really expect this one to be awesome when it comes along.

Honorable Mentions

1. Google Apps

Though they’ve already stated they won’t be going for it, I would love to have Gmail, Google Calendar, and especially a YouTube app in Windows 8. I know this will drive traffic from Chrome, which Google doesn’t want, but it would be so much more convenient. And the YouTube app for Xbox 360 might as well be a Windows 8 app anyway, so perhaps that will get moved over.

2. Facebook

Yet another tech giant who has refused to build a Windows 8 app. Though they have stated that Microsoft could build their own, Zuckerberg and friends aren’t going to writing anything for Win8 any time soon. Luckily the Messaging app takes care of your chat needs and for the News Feed you can always jump out to your browser of choice like the good old days.

Beck Hansen’s “Song Reader” Proves He’s More Hipster Than You

January 4, 2013
Beck Hansen: "Song Reader"

A friend was going through a quarter life crisis recently and said that one of his issues was that he’s been too into hipster culture and now feels like he’s entirely unrelatable. I consoled him, saying “There’s always someone more hipster than you, Beck Hansen”.

In case you’ve forgotten during his long hiatus Beck Hansen is an indie-pop singer/songwriter who has a habit of completely changing his style upon each release. He gained moderate mainstream success with 1993’s “Loser” and 2005’s “Girl”, and has collaborated with everyone from Pearl Jam to Childish Gambino.

Beck’s latest release, “Song Reader”, proves once again that he is the uberhipster. Someone so obscure that no other human being could possibly come close. “Song Reader” is not an album or a single, it is a book of sheet music composed by Beck to be played by a small ensemble. Hansen has refused to release a recorded performance of the album, forcing non-musicians to seek out versions performed by others.

Beck Hanson: "Song Reader"

In fact, up until this week the music community at large was subjected to poor quality YouTube videos if they wished to hear “Song Reader”. Thankfully though the bastion of all hipsterdom, NPR, posted a full album performance from the excellent musicians at The Portland Cello Project. And I must say, even performed by a cello-based group with female vocalists “Song Reader” still feels like a Beck album. It’s full of alt-country twang like his earlier material, but has some really big ethereal tracks like his middle “Sea Change” period.

But even if the album were crap, Beck would still have made his point. He is more obscure than you or any of your friends will ever be. Though not nearly as experimental as other hipster acts like Animal Collective and of Montreal, Beck has proven himself once again as the most obscure musician out there.

I really kind of hope this turns into a mini-trend where other artists emulate “Song Reader” and release music for live performance. Partially because performance possesses a level of intimacy that even vinyl can’t come close to. But mostly so that when Fun. puts out a full score I can say that such a move was really only cool the first time around with Beck way back in 2012.

Briefly on Tame Impala

January 4, 2013

Tame Impala is such a great band. They have just the right amounts of every type of psychedelia. And this track is so beautiful I can’t stop listening to it. The vocals almost sound like George Harrison, and the atmosphere builds in a really cool way throughout.

via Tumblr

The Undertones: Pioneers of Pop-Punk

December 10, 2012
Undertones Teenage Kicks Single Artwork

The Undertones; Teenage Kicks Single ArtworkThere’s a vlogger on YouTube who claims to be “The Internet’s Busiest Music Nerd”. I don’t know if that’s true, or who gave him that title, but he does know quite a lot of music and he’s recently been showing his viewers through his vinyl collection for fun. In the most recent of these side videos he briefly showed off his copy of the first record by a band from the late-70s called The Undertones, who I’ve since fallen in love with.

Essentially, The Undertones are a combination of The Beatles, The Small Faces and The Ramones which just so happens to make them one of the first ever Pop-Punk bands. Now, I love Pop-Punk, so to hear that this band nearly created the genre was quite exciting for me, and I must say they really do live up to that reputation. Their sound takes that early punk guitar sound of The Ramones, adds in a bit of glam keyboards and tops it off with lyrics about teenage angst and love set to pop melodies.

The Undertones formed as a pop-rock cover band in Derry, North Ireland in the mid-early 1970s. It wasn’t until The Ramones and other massive figures in early Punk became popular in the UK in 1976 that The Undertones began writing original tracks that combined their pop influences with the new Punk sound. After establishing a following in Ireland The Undertones sent a demo to five record labels, all of which turned them down. However, renowned music nerd and BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel received a copy of their demo and instantly fell in love.

Peel financed the band’s first four track EP, which ultimately got them signed to Sire later in 1977, and claimed throughout his life that The Undertones’ break-through single “Teenage Kicks” was his favorite song of all time.

Because of their Pop influence and generally well behaved nature, The Undertones never gained the fame or infamy of contemporaries such as The Sex Pistols and The Clash. However, their Pop/Punk hybrid would ultimately spawn one of Punk’s most successful sub-genres.

The Undertones split in 1983 when lead vocalist Feargal Sharkey left the group due to artistic differences. They reunited without him in 1999 and have been touring and releasing albums since.

Below is a playlist of some of The Undertones best tracks, which really show the beginnings of what we now call Pop-Punk.

Get Inspired on the Quick with Soul Pancake’s “Art Attack”

December 9, 2012
Art Attack

Soul Pancake began as a book by actor Rainn Wilson, you probably know him as Dwight Schrute, and a few of his friends. The book discussed what they viewed to be some of life’s most important questions and thoughts. These were then transferred to a website and most recently a YouTube Channel.

The Soul Pancake Channel is one of YouTube’s premium channels, meaning they are endorsed by Google to produce original content specifically for YouTube, and they do their job well. The channel has a rotating lineup of five shows (one for each day of the workweek) including a talk-show hosted by Rainn Wilson, a short film series, and original comedy series Kid President.

The only non-rotating series on the channel is Art Attack, wherein artists are given a single word theme and asked to create a piece while being filmed time-lapse style. The videos are uploaded each Friday and are typically about 5 minutes long for easy digestion. Quite inspiring and always entertaining, Art Attack showcases some great talent in all sorts of mediums. <br/ >

Backpacking Zaleski

December 4, 2012
Kevin looks out

Surprisingly, even though I’ve spent 14 or so of my 20 years of life in Scouting I had never gone backpacking until this past weekend. My Troop kind of fell away from it just as I bridged over from Cub Scouts and I never had any friends outside the Troop who were really into such things until the past couple of years. Thanks to their incessant nagging though I did manage to make time for a quick 10 mile weekend in Zaleski State Forest last week.

Armed with a 30-year-old pack that I made far too heavy with non-essentials I set out for a two-day one-night trek with my good friends Kevin and Ben. We had an excellent time and saw a very different side of Appalachia than what we typically see in and around the Ohio University campus here in Athens, Ohio.

This short little trek has already awakened a new desire in the three of us to do bigger hikes in the future leading up to Kevin’s through-hiking of The Appalachian Trail after graduation. While I’m not sure I’ll be in for that I’m certainly pumped about upcoming treks to Red River Gorge and The New River.

The New Myspace Dilemma

December 4, 2012
New Myspace

If you aren’t big into the Social scene this may be a bit shocking for you to hear, but people are actually talking about Myspace again. The once gigantic social network dwindled under the ownership of Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp, but was recently purchased by singer turned actor Justin Timberlake who’s team has announced plans to re-brand the site as an entertainment-based social network designed to connect fans to content producers.


The new Myspace from Myspace on Vimeo.


In late September the Myspace home page added a link to a video showing off the site’s new features that ended with a nebulous “coming soon”. Social Media sites went nuts over the video and SM junkies like myself immediately signed up for the invite list. The web was getting all geared up for what appeared to be an exciting new hybrid of Tumblr, Pinterest, Spotify and the original Myspace.

Nothing happened though. It’s December and the beta invites are just rolling out, though its an extremely rough beta with a lot of freezing and crashing. We’ve been starved of the functional content Myspace ambitiously promised almost three months ago.

This is what I’m calling “The New Myspace Dilemma”, another symptom of the bubble we’ve built around the Social Media industry. There’s an ongoing push for ultra-fast innovation, but nothing has proven substantial enough to satisfy everyone. Industry leaders announce what they believe the next big thing will be and then when it fails to catch they move on rather than supporting an idea to full maturity. See Highlight and the geo-social craze started this year at SXSW, which has failed to catch on in many markets.

“The New Myspace Dilemma” comes from this incessant buzz building; but its main symptom isn’t lack of support, its lack of content. Myspace put out the announcement of their relaunch far too early without even a beta version to back it up , and so when a month or so went by with no developments people began to write the idea off. And now, though the beta is visually appealing it still has a lot of functionality issues that should probably have been solved even before the announcement. They’re losing momentum before the race has even started.

If you’re trying out the beta version of the site as well you can connect with me here.

Empty December Mix

December 3, 2012
The Flaming Lips: Once Beyond Hopelesness

I really love playlists. Particularly well-crafted ones that fit to a particular mood. Thus, about once a month I build some sort of master list of songs fitting my mood. This December I’m really enjoying sparse, empty music.

I don’t know if it was the recent release of How To Destroy Angels’ An Omen EP or what, but empty soundscapes are really catching my ear right now. I re-listened to the first HTDA EP, as well as Trent Reznor’s various ambient work for scores and such; from there I’ve been revisiting a lot of electronic stuff like Burial and some of the more atmospheric Moby albums.

Below I’ve compiled a brief list of some of the tracks I’ve really been digging in this phase.