Four years ago at SXSW I encountered Gary Vaynerchuk for the first time. With a group of typically cynical Brits, we went along to watch him talk. I’d vaguely heard of him before but had never seen him speak. Someone said to me, “you’ve never seen him?” and then followed comments like, “ah, he’s something else”, “just wait and see” and “he has a cult like following, especially in the US, his fans ADORE him”. And so it was that I was initiated into the world of ‘GaryVee’. Onto the stage bounded a man with the energy of an irrepressible toddler, it was like sitting downstream of a jet engine. The cynical Brits smiled politely while the Americans in the audience whooped and cheered throughout. Then something happened to us. It was impossible not to warm to this guy, his enthusiasm for business and technology and social media was genuinely infectious (even to a bunch of miserable English folk) and by the end we were hooked too.
Gary Vaynerchuck is best known for how he effectively used social media to grow his family’s retail wine business from a small outfit to a hugely sucessful company. And what started off as short YouTube videos filmed with a flip camera, turned into the enourmously popular Wine Library TV. Now he also has a large consultancy business and has written several books. Yesterday he did a 5 hour live streaming session as part of promotion for his latest book (called, in typical understated Gary V style ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook‘.). Fans (and he has many) could come on and ask him anything one-to-one. This epic session reminded me how intuitively good he is at social media and how much he can teach businesses large and small about how to use social media effectively.
So here are here are my 5 lessons to learn from Gary V about mastering social media:
- YOU DON’T NEED A MASSIVE BUDGET: the videos of Gary talking about and tasting wine where recorded by himself using a flip camera, they’re fun, informative and very much his own style. Good social content doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
- SHOW THE HUMAN SIDE OF YOUR BUSINESS: Gary’s style is very individual, some people find it over the top but many people love it. Regardless, no-one can say it’s not authentic. It’s a cliche but people don’t want to talk to faceless corporations, they want to talk to people.
- ENGAGE!: Despite having nearly one million followers on twitter Gary responds to everyone who tweets him. That’s some commitment but he knows it builds loyalty and relationships with his followers and that ultimately sells more books (and wine and social media consultancy services!)
- PASSION IS CONTAGIOUS: Whether you sell wine or widgets, people will respond if you demonstrate your passion for your product or service. That has to be genuine passion, not dreamt-up-by-a-marketing-agency-passion.
- IT TAKES HARD WORK, COMMITMENT & TIME TO BUILD A COMMUNITY: Coming across Gary Vaynerchuck at this point, it might look like a breeze, you may think well it’s ok for him, due to his investments he’s hooked into some of the most influential people on the planet when it comes to social media, he has a huge following, he has NY Times best-selling books under his belt. But all that didn’t come without tireless work and non of it happened overnight. One of the most common issues I come across in my training and consultancy work is businesses not appreciating the resource it takes to get the momentum going.
If you’re in the early stages of using social media to build relationships with potential customers and wondering how to make it work better, check out some of Gary V’s videos or books and prepare to join the cult.