Content Is the Salt and Pepper. Social Media is the Steak.

I’ve just walked home in my doctor-disapproved pointy toed boots from a Bill Sobel event at the Samsung Experience featuring Gary Vaynerchuk, aka Gary V.

I didn’t start taking notes until 15 minutes into the talk because I was recording it and attempting to single-process by giving him my full attention. But after a bevvy of great tweetable takeaways, I broke down and pulled out my Moleskine notebook.

As with other such entries, I apologize from the start for not having digested and synthesized this, but such is the world of the blog.

All that said, here are some witty, gritty takeaways from Gary V…. Oh, but I forgot to tell you who Gary is. Now the super-digital among you will know who he is, but since I personally did not appreciate his fame (aka know who he was) until last week, I will give you a little background (from wikipedia):

Gary Vaynerchuk was born in Belarus in 1975 and emigrated to the U.S. in 1978. From a platform as co-owner and Director of Operations of Wine Library, a wine retail shop in Springfield, New Jersey, Vaynerchuk gained fame as the host of Wine Library TV, a daily internet webcast on the subject of wine.

Vaynerchuk’s informal style, described as “unpretentious, gonzo approach to wine appreciation” is in contrast to conservative wine industry norms. Vaynerchuk refers to his followers as “Vayniacs” and “Vayner Nation.” Conversely, his hyperactive on-screen delivery has caused criticism from some of the wine purist audience.

He has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Time, and has been a guest on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Ellen. Vaynerchuk has been described as “the first wine guru of the YouTube era,” “the wine world’s new superstar,” and “outside of Rob Parker, probably the most influential wine critic in the United States.”

He is scheduled to be a (or the?) keynote speaker at South by Southwest.

Ok, so all that said, here are some undigested Vaynerchuk nuggets:

We live in a day and age when you can care first.

This comment really made me pause and think. It’s something we’ve observed but that has not been communicated so authentically. What does he mean? Well, we are all familiar with the Twitter marketing practice of reaching out to a Tweeter who mentions your brand or yourself via a Twitter reply. Comcast set the standard, turning its reputation around from the YouTube image of a repairman napping on a customer’s sofa to the now-famous Comcast Cares program. I personally have experienced it when Zappos responded to a tweet about my positive experience with them by tweeting back that they hope I enjoy my new sneakers, and when American Express replied to a tweet about a payment mistake I had made (directing my payment to an inactive AMEX card and therefore becoming delinquent on a current one) by offering to sort out what they said was a pretty straightforward situation.

Well, this is all good business, but the way that Gary described it was much more personal. He spends, what he casually quantifies as “15 hours a day” on social media. He built his personal brand by responding to twitter inquiries about wine. “Trying to figure out what wine to serve with…” someone might write. And he would respond with a recommendation. So, good business, good marketing, yes, but what really turned my head was his description of this action, as I said: “We live in a day and age when you can care first.”

Internet people don’t buy stuff.

You know, I don’t remember the context of this, but it stands on its own with all kinds of implications and “a has.”

We live in a thank you economy.

People bought his book as a thank you for all the free stuff he had been giving them – videocasts, advice, blogging, etc. He had built a powerful loyalty and following.

If you don’t like people, you can never be a brand in social media.

He attributes much of his success to the fact that he simply loves people, which he sought to demonstrate by saying “hi” back to each person during Q&A – by name.

I am East Coast for East Coast.

I’m hoping this stands on its own – it resonated with the upper west side audience.

The Internet is only 15 years old.

Pause and digest.

Advertising campaigns should always include an interactive element to extend the story and capture the data.

Why couldn’t I have been as eloquent when asked that question, i.e., should ad campaigns include a digital element, by an advertising agency executive today?

I am obsessed with geolocation.
Sound familiar? If you can make people show up at your store if you give them something, that’s worth a lot. McDonalds knows this.

Gary has invested in Gowalla.

Pownce could have won out with Twitter if its founders had not put all their attention into Digg.

This was in response to my question about FourSquare vs. Gowalla. His response to that question was that there may be room for both players, that FourSquare has embraced the strategy of associating itself with high profile brands (Bravo, NYT, Zagat), and Gowalla has some things in the works…

And this comment about FourSquare also followed a discussion of a partnership between Starbucks and Burger King. These brands, he said, are smart enough to see the value of leveraging each other’s audience.

Smart TVs are coming.

So, summing up the trends to watch: Smart TVs, 3D TV, geolocation, augmented reality, the semantic web.

Companies need to have patience [an attribute that has served him well]. It’s about dating not hooking up. These companies are acting like teenage boys. They want to buy a company and then cash in. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Look at the difference in brand recognition between Huffington Post, TechCrunch and Mashable vis a vis Fast Company, Inc. and… [I can’t remember the third.] The distance is shrinking quickly.

Regarding Google Buzz: Let’s check out the neighborhood.

This in response to clients who frantically want to know what they should be doing with Google Buzz.

Regarding the iPad: Consumers are trying to figure out how to use it – that’s real brand equity.

So true. As Galbraith said so many years ago, supply creates demand. People know there must be something special about it if Apple created it, and they want it, they’re just not sure why.

Ok, the comments below are brilliant.

When asked by a client, the NHL, how they would be able to measure the success of a social initiative, Gary said, “We’re gonna feel it.” Evidently, the client was not convinced.

This led Gary to point out that we still haven’t figured out how to measure the value or success of traditional media. Now we all know the now hackneyed expression about knowing that half your ad dollars are wasted, etc. but Gary got more specific. How do we measure out of home/billboards? By calculating the average number of cars that drive by. But today everyone is on their hand held devices when they are driving.

A valid point. I think equally valid for pedestrian traffic. The people on the streets of New York can hardly navigate the sidewalks while talking on the phone let alone looking at a hand held device and also noticing the billboards in Times Square.

Ok, there’s more to say, but I’m exhausted so… hopefully… more later.

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