Marketing guru and speaker Gary Vaynerchuk believes if your firm isn’t already using social media, it doesn’t care about its customers. To change that, he suggests you learn from him – and from your great-grandparents.
What hasn’t marketing consultant Vaynerchuk done? After graduating from college, he built a $3 million family wine business into a $60 million juggernaut. He leads VaynerMedia, a cutting edge digital media agency. As a venture capitalist, he invested in Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Uber. Then he co-founded a $25 million investment fund, VaynerRSE.
And yet, rather than spending his days rolling around on a mattress filled with all his money, Vaynerchuk also writes books. His titles include the highly entertaining and insightful Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook and Crushing It! As you can tell from the titles, Vaynerchuk asserts. He does not gently suggest.
This one-man whirlwind asserts that your great-grandparents nurtured personal relationships with their customers, but that behavior vanished when corporate managers found it more cost-effective to ignore customer concerns. Vaynerchuk points out that social media gives marketers opportunities to connect with current and potential customers in entirely new ways. This is not exactly news, but it’s just the beginning, the foundation of Vaynerchuk’s arguments.
Good manners are back
Older people recall living in a different world. They knew their local grocery store owner and good customer relationships mattered. Happy customers, Vaynerchuk explains, told their family and friends. Unhappy customers told even more people. Vaynerchuk ties the emergence of social media to the emergence of the “Thank You Economy.” If your customers like you, he believes, they’ll use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other networks to sing your praises. If they don’t like you, they’ll spread that news just as quickly. Vaynerchuk wants them to like you, and he tells you how to make that happen.
Win in the thank you economy
What Vaynerchuk describes as a “culture of caring” must start at the top and reverberate throughout your organization. Your word-of-mouth messengers – your employees – must share your philosophy. Care more about your workers, Vaynerchuk cautions, than about your customers or competition.
Social media has transformed our world into one great big small town, dominated…by the strength of relationships, the currency of caring and the power of word of mouth.
Vaynerchuk may not use an exclamation point at the end of every sentence, but you can feel them as you read. This approach can be inspiring or deeply irritating, depending on your mood. When the author exhorts you to do something, he really exhorts. And thus, Vaynerchuk exhorts you, as your organization’s leader, to exude your company’s culture.
He avows that the “mental commitment” to carry out enhanced social media marketing is more critical than the “financial commitment.” Once you resolve to pursue a social media initiative, Vaynerchuk wants you to reallocate your budget to do just that – launch your initiative. Take a personal, one-on-one interest in your customers. Identify staffers who have good ideas about moving into the social media mainstream. Give their ideas and suggestions credence and support – all these actions align with the author’s concept of the “thank you economy.”
Vaynerchuk says it’s critical to let your employees express themselves about the firm in uncensored tweets and blogs. Good news and bad news both travel fast. If you make a mistake that receives public attention, he insists you take public responsibility and make a public apology at once. When you find a special employee who cares enough to “adopt a sense of ownership and identification” with your customers, retain that person.
The “emotional center”
Vaynerchuk says your customers are perceptive and active. He maintains that they will recognize when your intentions are good and flock to you. Conversely, people will expose your bad intentions on a very large scale – and quickly.
The platforms you use are incredibly important to successful social marketing, but they will always be a close second to your intent and your message.
If you stand aloof from the emotional center in your interactions with your audience – something it is impossible to imagine Vaynerchuk ever doing – customers will distance themselves also from the emotional center, making them less valuable to you.
Shock and Awe
The author offers Rapper 50 Cent as someone who understands how to generate online shock and awe. Canadian teenager Pierce Ruane posted a YouTube video calling 50 Cent a sellout for advertising Vitamin Water and other products.
A social media campaign in the Thank You Economy is never done! The Thank You Economy rewards marathon runners, not sprinters.
Rather than engage in an online battle, Vaynerchuk relates with admiration how 50 Cent flew Ruane to New York City and posted a new YouTube video of them having fun together.
Vaynerchuk describes how Angie and Joe Sorge, who launched their Milwaukee hamburger restaurant AJ Bombers in 2009, use social media to embrace customer input on menu items, prices, decor, promotions, and more. At California’s largest boutique hotel company, Joie de Vivre Hotels, employees vote monthly to give the “Best DreamMaker Award” to the co-worker who finds the most distinctive, thoughtful way to deliver an “over-the-top experience” to a guest. Pioneering Dr. Irenda Vaksman uses Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn to educate the public, exchange information, interact with patients, and differentiate herself from other dentists in San Francisco.
These examples of prizewinners drive the author’s thesis: none of these people or firms are doing anything radical or expensive. Vaynerchuk presents their successful outreach as basic common sense.
Dramatic creative steps
Vaynerchuk stresses, repeatedly, that customer expectations and behaviors have changed irrevocably and businesses must take dramatic, creative steps to live up to them. What the author regards as a vibrant, vocal online community – he spends little time on the hateful part of the web – is here to stay.
The Thank You Economy has radically altered our consumers’ expectations, and businesses are going to have to get creative and personal in order to meet them.
An innovator, but not a revolutionary, Vaynerchuk supplies a thought-provoking discourse on social media. As expected from a one-man media machine, he provides an entertaining read and shares accessible insights for managers, employees and customers who expect honest and caring relationships in their business dealings, even online.