Could the essence of your social media presence be in the bits and bytes of your daily life? Gary Vaynerchuk thinks that if you can tell a million engaging micro-stories that are true to yourself and your brand, you might just unlock the secret to success.
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World
By Gary Vaynerchuk
Harper Collins, 229 pages, $29.99 (available on Amazon)
What does it mean to actually use social media to market yourself as a real estate agent or broker?
According to Gary Vaynerchuk, author of Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, it’s about telling your story in small, light bites, so that you continuously engage and offer value to the people you want to do business with. But even though you’re telling your story, it’s hardly a “me, me, me” affair. In fact, you might talk about yourself so rarely that when you do, people will be glad to hear what you have to say.
Vaynerchuk says you need to tell stories that create value and context, so that the people you want to do business with can understand your value in relationship to their own lives and desires. He calls these light touches and stories “jabs,” a term purloined from boxing. Before you throw a knockout punch (or a right hook) you throw plenty of jabs to engage your opponent.
Think of it this way: Every single person on social media is a person, first and foremost. They don’t want to be clobbered with a right hook every time they hear from you.
Instead, Vaynerchuk says people love to be gently engaged. They want to hear stories (or jabs), because they help people form relationships and attachments to other people.
Vaynerchuk’s logic is simple.
If your story (jab) is genuine, human and engaging (and people like it and you), it’s possible to use social media marketing to form values-based, strong relationships that will grow your business. But if you’re using social as a broadcast medium and hitting people over the head with salesy, irritating or irrelevant content, you chances of using social media successfully are nil.
In other words, you need to give, give and give some more before asking for anything on social. And when you do ask after investing in your relationships, Vaynerchuk says people will be happy to give back, because of the value you’ve created along the way.
Vaynerchuk says that masterful story telling is at the heart of successful social engagement. But what’s a story? How can you craft a story out of the prosaic goings-on in your business?
Vaynerchuk advises that the key is to think of your story in tiny bits he calls “micro-content.” These “tiny, unique nuggets of information, humor, commentary or inspiration” are parts of the whole of your business life. You should share them frequently in the context of the culture and the news of the day.
You don’t need to knock it out of the park every single time with a complete story; you can tell your story through the nuances of your personal life and business.
The goal is to build bits of micro-content that “natively” fit and flow into various social platforms, so that you can garner a smile, a gesture of interest or provide some genuine value. By native, Vaynerchuk means that the content should be a natural, but attention-getting part of the platform. You can’t just repurpose content from one platform to another, without adjusting it to fit.
Vaynerchuk says that such native stories engage the audience using the platform’s strengths. For example, you wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) put a post on Facebook that’s an exact duplicate of a tweet. You need to pay attention to the nuances, so that your content gets noticed. It’s a matter of understanding the medium and your social sphere.
“When you deliver a precise jab with native content, it might take your consumer a split second before he realizes that the story he’s paying attention to is being told by a brand, and not an individual,” Vaynerchuk says. “Yet if your content is great, the realization won’t piss him off. Instead, he’ll appreciate what you’re offering.”
Vaynerchuk quotes Leo Burnett in saying that great content must be simple, memorable, inviting to look at and fun to read — but then warns that you’d better “make it for your customer or your audience, not for yourself.”
The idea is not to intrude, but to become an entertaining part of your clients’ lives. Vaynerchuk advises that becoming a part of your clients’ experience on social is what you’re aiming for, so that they believe that you understand them and can create an emotional connection. That’s all about value.
“How do you know what content people find valuable?” Vaynerchuk asks. “Look on their phones. Phone home screens show you everything you need to know about what kind of content people value.”
Based on the apps people have on their phones, Vaynerchuk says that all stories should fall into one of three categories: People, entertainment or utility, and that successful marketers use a combination of all three stories to build relationships on social.
How to Craft Stories
All of that may not be new news, but where Vaynerchuk shines is in showing you exactly how to craft stories that engage an audience. The book is filled with more than 80 case studies that dissect various posts, tweets and pins and show you what works — and what doesn’t. The case studies make the theoretical aspects of the book practical.
The small pointers, like putting a legible version of your logo on your pictures, or using images on Twitter, are incredibly useful. But Vaynerchuk’s careful examination of what big brands and small businesses are saying on social — and how, if and why it works — goes beyond such simple (albeit valuable) tips.
Vaynerchuk’s insights on why subtle jabs work is worth the price of the book on their own. For example, he breaks down why Oreo’s infamous Super Bowl tweet, “Power out? No problem” was so effective. First, it was responsive and was posted with a clever image of a companion image of a lone Oreo cookie tagged with “you can still dunk in the dark.”
But more than that, it was a combination of hewing to a well-constructed brand voice and leveraging a community by telling a great story. Not to mention the fact that the Oreo’s social media team was on standby, ready to be responsive to something newsworthy with enough guts to take advantage of an unusual situation in an original and amusing fashion.
Vaynerchuk says that success in social is always a combination of excellent micro-content and community management, regardless of platform.
Even if you’re not Nabisco, Vaynerchuk says that you too can leverage social — as long as you listen to your social sphere.
Every post, tweet, comment, like or share should confirm your business’ identity. That means that what you post should always answer the question of “who are we?”
Your core story should always remain constant. Vaynerchuk posits that if you create enough value along the way, your social sphere will feel it — and pass it along because you’ve evoked positive feelings. And unquestionably, that will have a positive effect on your bottom line.
If you’re looking for a handbook on how to create a compelling social presence that dives deep into the practicalities of telling your story on social, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is a great investment. Between the case studies and in-depth examinations of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumbler and a number of emerging platforms like Google Plus, you can’t miss. And you will certainly walk away with a new appreciation for those who leverage social media the right way— by aiming for the heart.