30 August 2011

Slow Leak: An Evolution

I'm gearing up to record my first EP. Everything feels like it is moving in the right direction, at the right speed. A friend of mine, Jason, commented that he loves Slow Leak because he was able to see it evolve from the moment of conception to where it is today. It has, indeed, been a wild progression.

I love Slow Leak now, a story about a relationship torn apart. It was written as a letter to myself and my partner at the time as we were in the midst of a drawn out break up. We were trying to figure out the way to find a resolution while making a series of terrible decisions.

It's cathartic and painful and exhilarating to play & I can't wait to have a full recording of it. I know it's top on a lot of people's lists of songs to have on the album.

Thanks to Tyler Breish for the iPhone video at our latest Homophonic Show. Come see Homophonic, a queer singer/songwriter showcase, every third Saturday of the month at Martuni's SF.

13 December 2010

Sunday Night Mic - Feature Set - 1 of 6

This is my opening song for my 30 minute feature set at Sunday Night Mic. "Come Around" was a song I wrote about a woman first telling her partner "I Love You".

Brushing Up

I've been playing quite a few shows around SF lately. Really brushing up my set, collaborating with new artists & writing new music. I performed earlier on in November with my pals Jeb (Piano) and Derek (Piano, Ukulele) at this awesome piano bar called Martuni's. We'll be back there again on December 19th. What an awesome last show to send me off to Europe in style.

Take a look at one of my original songs, "Make It Easier", from that performance.

28 July 2010

New Music Video for "Slow Leak"

Hello all, I recently wrote this song, "Slow Leak" after a while of not having played my guitar. These past few weeks 'Bella' (that's my guitar's name) and I have been getting acquainted again, falling in love & writing more songs. Take a look at the latest video I recorded & edited. I hope you like it. Post comments, questions, opinions. You know I love feedback.


"Slow Leak" (original song) by Tawnee Kendall from Tawnee Kendall on Vimeo.

01 June 2010

Social Media: Who Should Own It?

The topic of "who owns social media" came up around a family dinner when my parents were curious why social media roles exist under different departments depending on the company. In actuality, the answer is a bit more complex.

The key lies in how a company wants to approach it's social media engagement. The uses for social media can range from support & technical assistance to brand evangelism to lead generation and sales. Often companies find that one of these areas presents itself first. They then opt to create social media plans based on this need. What they don’t plan for is that the moment that they start engaging, they have opened the doors to all social engagement. Even though their best intention was to fulfill a need in one area of the company, the users need to connect to the company is still greater.

Without creating a framework for how to engage socially, a company’s social media will be incomplete and will risk confusing employees, disappointing customers, and ultimately leading to failure.

The question shouldn’t be, “who owns social media?” It should instead be, “who do we want to engage on this medium, and why?” In answering this question, you start to create a framework of what do and don’t we want to talk about? How do we want to engage? Which teams or functional areas are involved? Developing engagement guidelines is basically brand management but with new participation rules. Brand guidelines ensure that the visual representation of your brand is controlled down to imagery, text, color, etc. Social media guidelines are similar in that a company’s employees understand the parameters in which they can engage socially.

Setting social media guidelines is beneficial for both the employees who are willing and eager to participate as well as the hesitant employees who want the reassurance of a virtual safety net. As with sales, marketing, even dance or music, you have to go back to basic structure. It may sound cliché, but it seems this step is all too commonly overlooked. Perhaps it is because social media is perceived as being a new and cutting edge topic, people jump the gun and forget. Don’t allow yourself to get sidetracked by the technology, the platform, or the buzz-word.

Before you hire that intern to take the task of updating your Twitter and Facebook accounts, sit down with people from each department and understand what it is that you are trying to accomplish as a company. Ask yourself a few questions:

Who are our customers and how do they want to engage with us? Understand which platforms are best for your customer base. Twitter users are typically older (45-55 are the top demographic, 23-34 year old following closely behind -comScore). If you are trying to reach the younger crowd, don’t waste your energy. Spend your time wisely.

How do we want to engage? Is your objective to convey marketing promotions? Do you want to offer support? Are you looking for ideas to make your products better? In order to have conversations about varying topics, you will need to cover more than one base. YouTube, Facebook, perhaps even develop your own online support forum where you can not only help your customers find technical assistance, but ask them questions about what they would enjoy in future generations of your product.

What are our limitations for engagement? I’m a big fan of adding character and allowing your customers to interact with the many personalities that comprise a company. Decide if it is OK for friendly and benign commentary (ie “Go Red Wings!” or “I love My Morning Jacket, too!”). Understand that sometimes your customers will be mad. One of the biggest fears of companies is “what if someone says something bad about us? Then it will be on our wall/thread/page!” Well, there will always be customers who are not happy with your company. It is OK if they post something negative. I have found more value in customers who come in and leave a negative comment on our wall because it allows us to understand that there is (or may be) an issue somewhere that we have not seen. It also allows our community to see that our company is listening & that we care. My team addresses all questions on our Twitter/Facebook/YouTube channel, regardless of if they are positive or negative. In doing so we allow the entire community to see that we are all trying to work for the benefit of the customer. Recently, we have had a few instances where new members come in and write negative comments (also known as “trolling” when they are just looking for a fight) and our established community answers their questions before our company can participate- letting the trollers know that there is a solution to their problem & not to attack our company. We have clearly nurtured advocates of our brand by showing we are human, that we are listening & that we participate.

Once these questions are answered, each department can then participate in social media in a way that is not only beneficial to their distinct area, but to the company as a whole.

21 May 2010

7 Tips for Healthy Social Media

Part of the difficulty with working in Social Media is when "measuring success" comes into play. In traditional forms of sales and marketing one has quotas or objectives to meet. This system is fairly fool proof, it is easy to know did we sell 1,000 units or didn't we? Did we get the ad with CBS or didn't we? Social Media is nebulous because the platforms that they are based on are nebulous. Facebook is constantly reiterating itself, Twitter is still evolving, and YouTube is still trying to keep up with how fast it's user base is growing.

Facebook and YouTube have "insights" which allow you to see basic metrics. Twitter has yet to implement any form of metrics, which begs the question is Twitter really meant to be used for business. Perhaps that topic is better dissected at a later date. These dashboards only allow you to see a small numbers-based mapping of your community. You can see that your numbers are growing or dwindling, but knowing the numbers is not enough.

When I was interviewing for jobs with companies in the SF Bay Area, I got the impression (either from the way they seemed to understand/not understand about social media, or because they flat out told me) that they knew "social media" was important but weren't really sure where to go. Companies get the impression they "need" to be on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube but they aren't really sure why or what they need to do once they are signed up. Success doesn't come from registering an account on one or many of these sites. Success comes from truly understanding your audience. You have to understand their behavior, their desires, and know when those desires change--because believe me, they will.

That is why I don't think numbers are the most important part of social media success. It is certainly important to grow your numbers, but don't get blindsided by increasing numbers and miss out on the most important part: health.

When I started with Creative, there was a Twitter account and a few different Facebook Pages. The two pages I selected to dedicate the majority of my attention to were our Sound Blaster gaming page and our Vado HD pocket video camera page. The trouble (and the great thing) about Creative is that our product offering is vast. We sell speakers, headsets, MP3 players, sound cards, HD video cams, web cams--the list goes on. When setting up a Facebook account, or any account for that matter, you have to take a few things into consideration:
  • Make the subject of your account broad enough that you will be able to consistently update it with new and relevant information while still remaining targeted enough that your users are all like minded.
  • Leave room for growth. As your company grows & your product lines potentially increase, will the new products fit under the umbrella, or title, you have labeled this account with?
  • Allow for personality changes. As your brand evolves and your marketing message changes, will your title still remain relevant?
In our case, Creative set up individual product Facebook fan pages. A classic case of this is our MP3 line. We have a facebook page for Zen X-FI, Zen X-FI 2, Zen Mosaic, Zen...do you see where I am going with this? Creating multiple pages means that your like minded audience are all compartmentalized based on their one time purchase. When the technology improves and new generations of the product come out, the fan page they are attached to is no longer relevant. Also, creating tons of pages is too cumbersome and makes managing fairly impossible. Instead of separating your fans bi-product, group them together by lifestyle. A label of "Creative Music" would be much more fitting. It would allow us to capture the audience of all our Zen MP3 players while still permitting us to cross promote our headphones and wireless audio product like the Sound Blaster Wireless which streams music wirelessly to any room in your house.

We are all well aware of people's changing taste and multi-tasking brains. Hardly ever will you see a person who wants to join a fanpage and get monotonous, homogenous updates. Entertain your audience. By playing to their many tastes & providing them with interesting content, they will in turn be brand evangelists and happy customers.

As I mentioned, growing your numbers is important, but health is number one. It is important that you pay attention to your user-base. Be genuinely interested in them, learn from them so you can provide them with information that you know they want and need. If you do not nurture your community, your community will not grow. And then, where will your numbers be? Numbers are just a bi-product of health.

Tips for a healthy community:
  • Q&A: When users ask you questions, give them answers. "I don't know" is considered an answer in my book. It is always OK to give your community some visibility into what your company is doing. For instance, "I sent a request out to our engineers after your request for a firmware fix. We are working around the clock, testing on Mac and PC and we will keep you guys up-to-date on our progress."
  • Identify yourself: Tell people who you are, let them know your personality. Write emoticons if that's you're thing. It's easy to tell me and our Social Media Intern, Kristen, apart (aside from actually signing our names) because she uses =) and I use :) amongst other typical terms that we use. (one of my favorites is "Ace!") It allows your community to connect and identify with you. If they post a video of a band you like, have a conversation with them about it. Let them see you--better yet, start making videos that actually allow them to see you. Even though our era lives on computers most of the time, we still connect when we make eye contact.
  • Encourage your most active users: Let them know that you appreciate them, site them when you answer other questions if they provided you information you didn't already know. "Bob Foundry let us know there is a sale on Vado HD cameras on Buy.com, go check it out and be sure to thank Bob for the good find!" People who are most active in communities, better known as "Super Users", love notoriety. They don't necessarily want rewards in the form of prizes, they want their own slice of fame, right there with your community members. They want to be known as the smart ones, the crafty ones, the funny ones.
  • Give your community incentives: be creative (pardon the pun) with how you reward your community. Try having them participate in contests that not only allow them to win cool things, but allow them to pitch in. We did a contest for our Sound Blaster World of Warcraft headset where we asked them to tell us their favorite part about the headset. This gave us a better understanding of what features were most coveted and what their individual personalities were.

What kind of issues are you encountering with your social media implementation? I am always happy to discuss and brainstorm.

Also, for similar discussions about "health" check out Lithosphere from Lithium. Lithium is the leading online forum platform & they are at forefront of understanding precisely what "community" is and does. They even have a measurement called CHI (community health index) which calculates precisely what I am talking about above. The only difference is, this measurement tool calculates CHI on their community platform- they don't (yet) measure in social media. With their recent acquisition of Scout Labs, I am hoping that will all change.

20 May 2010

Tour of Relient K's Tour Bus [Vado TV]

Here is the second video in a two part series from my interviews with Ethan Luck & John Warne of Relient K. They took me for a tour around their bus and I must say I learned a lot--although most of it was (somewhat) useless information. For instance, Relient K eats a lot of chips, you can't go number 2 on the bus because they don't have a poo-grinder, and Relient K depends on an atomic clock to get them on stage "lickety split". Another positive, Ethan Luck always has his Vado HD on him. That champ. Go see his videos on Vimeo- he is quite the cinematographer.

19 May 2010

Interview with Relient K in Las Vegas [Vado TV]

My job is all around lovely, but the highlights come into play when I get to go out and interview musicians. I have grown up with music, studied music, play music- so it's only right that I would want to work in music. Creative has a killer HD pocket video camera called Vado that makes the whole process that much more simple. This next bit is going to come off as a sales pitch, but it is in no way intended as such. I have been interviewing people for the past couple of years in two separate jobs and every video has a different format. The Vado is super slim, has a wide-angle lens & the ability to use an external microphone if you want. When I am filming on my own, I am able to just throw the camera in my pocket (literally), sling a tri-pod over my shoulder & I am all set.

So, I flew out to Las Vegas on Sunday and got to sync up with Relient K at The Joint venue inside Hard Rock Hotel. Sunday concluded their 3 week tour with Paramore and a band called fun. In this particular video Ethan Luck, drummer, and John Warne, bassist, and I chat about life on the road, mountain climbing, what it feels like to be in a 10 year old band & we discuss the option of them changing all their names to an anagram. All around good fun, I am sure you will enjoy it. Be sure to check out their music & see them live if you get a chance- they are absolutely fantastic.

07 May 2010

A conversation in 3D

Late 2009-Early 2010 Creative held a contest for film students all over the US appropriately called Vado Film Contest. Film schools from UCLA to NYU participated. Each school was given a bunch of Vado cameras for students to use. The turnout was incredible, due in part to the substantial prize packages--not only a ton of gear from Vados, speakers, and cash prizes--as well as winning an internship with a Hollywood film producer. In addition to all of this, we had a panel of Expert Judges who came from all genres of film production. Director Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger, Rabbit Proof Fence, Salt), DP Ken Arlidge (Full Metal Jacket, Army of Darkness, The Crow) and Ride Film Industry great Yas Takata were among the expert staff.

The Expert Panel also included creative visionary Matthew Ward. Matthew has had the privileged of working with a handful of some of Hollywood's most noted filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, the Wachowski brothers and most recently he has worked with Robert Zemekis on Polar Express and Disney's A Christmas Carol. Matt joined me on the balcony of my San Francisco apartment and let me ask him a few questions about how he got his start in film, what his role in Pre-Visualization entails & how he uses Vado to create 3D videos at home.

05 May 2010

Meet up with MURS

MURS and I first met on some random street in Austin, Texas during South by Southwest 2010. He had previously done a headphone promotion with Skull Candy and I just so happened to be walking down the street with a previous Skull Candy employee. This is one of the most impressive things about Austin--musicians and people who work in the music industry fly in from all over the country (and globe) for this event. There are so many venues, so many performances, that the streets seem to flood with busying bodies. It must have been 11 pm or so when Brad and I ran into MURS and his recent wife, Kate. We each had shows we wanted to go see-I have no idea who now-but instead we stood on the side of the street just talking about everything that came to mind: our respective jobs, travel, school, food, music & art. It was an ardent moment in a frantic week. Kate and I got to know each other as well as two people can for an hour-plus sidewalk conversation.

I had heard of MURS prior to meeting him, but hadn't really understood how impressive a man he is until that night in Austin. As we were chatting, people from all directions would gleefully shout out "MURS!" and run over to take pictures, have things signed, and hand off demo CDs. MURS stated that they actually do listen to all the albums that are handed to them. Both he and Kate--a perfect match if you ask me--are the absolute sweetest, down-to-earth individuals. I truly felt at home hanging out with them.

While at Austin, I got to see MURS perform. That same night, on that same stage, DJ Qwik and Bone Thugs & Harmony played. I watched from off stage with the rest of the crew (I do enjoy the VIP pass this job sometimes brings) and got to see how excitedly the crowd reacted. Everyone was jumping up and down, singing every lyric. MURS puts on a fantastic show- if you ever have the chance to see him, regardless of if you are a fan of hip hop or not, it's a perfect performance. MURS displays class and tact & a stinging sense of wit and intelligence.

Months later, MURS came to SF to play Fillmore West. We got back in contact and started planning for our Vado TV interview. It proved to be hilariously entertaining, certainly for me, and hopefully for you.