Is Gary Vaynerchuk the #SocialMedia God He Thinks He Is?



If you hit snooze around Thanksgiving, you might have missed the release of social media marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuk’s new book — “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.” It sounds like a scat jazz intro, am I right?

Anyway, for those who did peace out with their families over the holidays (and who can blame you?), you’re in for a treat because I’m about to carve it up like a butter ball ham and serve it on a platter — well, three platters actually (each with four meaty chapters).

Social media god?

But first, I’m required to answer the burning question posed in the title of this piece, “Is Gary Vaynerchuk the #Socialmedia God He Thinks He Is?” Ha! Impossible! He’s a New York Jets fan, after all. Try pushing that bolder up a hill! So, he’s hardly omnipotent. Bid deal. He’s a helluva social media marketer and his new book is full of snarky insights and chastising critiques of how the rest of us are screwing up as social media marketers. Let’s get to it.

Are you behind the times?

Round 1

In the first of 12 chapters, or Round 1, as @Garyvee dubs it to reinforce his boxing theme, he sets us up with some background that can be summed up:

Social media buttons— Back in the day, there was television, radio, outdoor advertising. Marketers hit potential customers over the head with how and why and by how much their product was the best at every opportunity. Right hook, right hook, right hook, all day long.

— Social media has changed the landscape. True, many don’t know it yet. But, the shift is huge and soon everyone will know it and it will be everywhere. The next generation of customers are demanding more of a brand’s time interacting with them on social media. The next generation wants the brands they support to pay attention to them to respond to their questions and concerns to entertain them,  all before the hard sell.

— Finally, the social media landscape is crowded even convoluted. Throwing the same weak content jabs out on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest has ever diminishing returns. Marketers must learn to pay attention to context and timing, and learn to play to each platforms’ strengths because potential customers on those platforms know them in and out. They know a fake when they see it, and they’ll unlike or unfollow your brand as soon as they think you have nothing to offer them.

Oreo, so dunkable

Round 2
Oreo's 2013 Superbowl tweet when the lights went dark.

Oreo’s 2013 Superbowl tweet when the lights went dark.

Chapter 2 is short. So let me save you some time. It’s all about tips for making your content compelling. You really don’t have to ready more than the section titles: It’s Native (to the platform), It Doesn’t Interrupt, It Doesn’t Make Demands — Often, It Leverages Pop Culture, It’s Micro, It’s Consistent and Self-Aware.

The most interesting part of the chapter focuses on a brilliant tweet by Oreo that happened when the night the lights went in Superbowl XLVII (2013). In case you don’t remember, @Garyvee, that was the San Francisco 49ers v. Baltimore Ravens (woot #49ers!). Image you’re sitting in the dark wonder WTH is with the #fail lights? You turn to Twitter, of course. (After all, it’s the tool million of Egyptians used to fuel a revolution. And if there’s anything in America the might start a revolution it would be the cancelling of the Superbowl in the middle of the GD game. Am I right?) There it is. The tweet that Gary Vaynerchuk is carping about a year later in her NYT Best Sellers List book: “Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark?” A photo of an Orea cookie was attached, or course.

I know what you’re thinking, “Genius.” But that’s not the genius part. The genius part, the part that is social media through and through is that there was no sale pitch. It didn’t tell people to jump up off the couch and run to the kitchen or the corner convenience store.

It didn’t need to.

That’s the point. Tens of thousands like and re-posted it on Twitter and Facebook.  “That was a first for such a mass-marketing brand within the context of such a mainstream event,” @Garyvee says.

BONUS!: Free video of Gary Vaynerchuk and the Oreo team talking about social media strategy


Round 3
Vaynerchuk gives Victoria's Secret high five for this post

Vaynerchuk gives Victoria’s Secret high five for this post

Here is where the rubber hits the road. “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” is full of case studies of what works and what doesn’t. The nature of social media is “social,” right? It’s not about sales. It’s about engagement based on comments and sharing with others. “You have to jab enough times o build huge visibility, so that the day you do throw a right hood — the day you do try to make a sale, with a post that’s not particularly sharable but where the link takes people to your product — it will show up in the maximum number of News Feeds,” @Garyvee says.

The chapter breaks down almost 30 examples. @Garyvee raves about Victoria’s Secret on Facebook, calling it fluent in Facebook’s language. The example post uses a dramatic photo with incorporated branding, short and pithy text, and links that lead readers to take action.


Round 4
Netflix uses Twitter to capitalize on a popular show and a national day of recognition.

Netflix uses Twitter to capitalize on a popular show and a national day of recognition.

This chapter offers examples from my favorite social media platform. What sets Twitter apart from other social media is its public nature. Its not just friends in your email contacts lists. It’s the whole world talking about what they think is important at that moment. The key to Twitter is to listen to what people are saying, listen carefully to what’s trending — then insert yourself in the conversation. You’ve heard of it. It’s called trendjacking.

This is done with #hashtags. But don’t just throw hashtags out. In fact, most of us shouldn’t try making up our own at all. The chances of it catching on are small and the resources needed to make that happen are large. Look for opportunities to springboard of popular hashtags that are already in the twittersphere.

@Garyvee offers more than 20 breakdowns both positive and negative. Here is one of my favorites, probably because I’m an “Arrested Development” fan. Vaynerchuk also liked it. “This is a perfectly executed jab, launch just days after Netflix announced that fifteen episodes …” It’s simple. It capitalizes on a tending hashtag. The text cleverly quotes a frequently heard line from the series.

@Garyvee pans Bugari Jewelry's tweet about dinner with Elizabeth Taylor

@Garyvee pans Bugari Jewelry’s tweet about dinner with Elizabeth Taylor.

Vaynerchuk does bad case studies too. About 30 percent are panned, I guesstimate. In this review, he let’s Bulgari Jewels have it for besmirched his beloved Elizabeth Taylor’s online brand with content that’s only designed to garner more @BulgariJewels followers, something it had a hard time doing judging by the 4 favorite and 9 retweets.

“The picture is so weak, an intern hiding behind a potted plant could have taken it,” he vipes. He’s right, of course. You can hardly see a thing in the photo, let along the “Dinner atmosphere.”

In other words, where is Taylor? Where are the stars in attendance? Where is the stunning jewelry? Where is a behind-the-scenes moment or any semblance of an emotional connection? Instead, we’re lost in a dark room.


Round 5

@Garyvee loves him some Pinterest. Way more than I do. But, then again, I’m not the 68 percent of women the platform caters to — a.k.a. the people making decisions about what to buy for the home. That’s one reason for Vaynerchuk’s enthusiasm. The popularity of image driven platform has exploded recently, with almost 49 million users.

Lauren Conrad Tone Legs Workout. Pin this and do it on your lunch break

@Garyvee says Lauren Conrad’s tone legs workout pin speaks fluent Pinterest. I say, What an accent!

Why does Vaynerchuk love it? Let me count the ways.

  1. It’s filled with pictures that feed consumers’ dreams. Think of them as ads or feature-article photos for Vanity Fair.
  2. It’s not just a place to publish content you create. Like @mentions and #hashtags on Twitter, “re-pins” allow you to like and share others’ content, it’s called content curation, ya’ll! “Who’s going to sue a company for pinning a picture of her product because it rocks, especially when the pin includes a link that takes consumers directly back to that product’s retail page?” @Garyvee asks.
  3. Eh hem. Let me repeat. Pinterest etiquette dictates that re-pined images link back to their source. (Make sure to link the image itself!)
  4. Creating pin boards (groups of pinned objects) that tangentially related to your company or product is a great way to be viewed as an expert and build community. Do you sell motorcycles? What about a pin board with images of the best Pacific Coast Highway towns? Don’t forget to ask your customers about their favorites.

Put a bow on it. Remember, this is about sharing

This glorified book report is almost 1/2 way through JJJRH, if you’re count the chapters. It’s about 2/3 through, if you count the pages. That’s a perfect place for me to regroup and for you to review the highlights. Believe me, there are many in the book and I hope some of these examples convey that. Check out my next post (coming early next week for summaries on what @Garyvee thinks about Instagram, Tumblr, emerging platforms, and more. And oh, please share this article and tweet me with your questions and comments about JJJRH.

by Ed Carpenter — He’s a bad mutha … shut yer mouth.


About Ed Carpenter

Content Creative | Brand Journalist | Photos | Maps | Videos

Posted on January 15, 2014, in Business, Higher education, Marketing, Social media. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I have no opposition to that. Looking forward to it.

  2. Hey, Tiven —

    This book is different in that it is filled with 10-15 examples of how to and how not to use specific social media platforms. It’s very effective at planting seeds for how readers can use social media to a better end.

    Overall, it’s less about “what” to do and more about “how” to do it. I think it’s worth it.

    I bet others have the same question. I’ll do a pull out on the blog with your question and my response, unless you’re opposed. The second 1/2 of the Cliff Notes will be out on Friday. Keep and eye out.


  3. Hey Ed, thanks for sharing. Having read one of his previous books, I’ve been debating on getting this one. Too often I find these kinds authors recycle much of their material in subsequent books. If you’ve read his previous books, how much of this material is original?

  4. Thanks for tuning in, Jacob. Have any tips of your own to share?

  5. For somebody new to using social media as a business tool, JJJRH is a great book.

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