One of my favorite social media personalities is Gary Vaynerchuk, author of Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion (affiliate link). The book opened at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list and #7 on the Wall Street Journal Bestseller List, and Gary's blog and online TV show are among the most popular on the Internet. Gary, or GaryVee as he is known, is a business man who has famously expanded his empire using social media.
Recently, in a segment entitled, “Is Social Media Overrated?”, Gary and TechCrunch columnist Paul Carr were interviewed by CNNMoney's Laurie Segall. Though I don't endorse everything Gary says about social media, I found some of his insights compelling and thought-provoking. To give you an idea of where Paul is coming from, he is quoted as saying, “There's more to life than feeding the insatiable blood-eating plant of social media,” and he recently went on a “social media shut down,” closing his accounts on FaceBook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn and more. As I listened to the dialog, I jotted down some notes, mainly from Gary's perspective, and thought they were interesting enough to share with you — my paraphrases of course.
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Listening maximizes success. Gary says that 95% of his Tweets are Replies, so he's not just repeating what other people say. He's replying to people, answering their questions, etc. This makes him useful, he says, and it started with simply listening to people and responding to their needs in ways that let them know how Gary can be of service to them.
Takeaway: Be more of a first-responder than a broadcaster.
Social media is just as bad, or good, as traditional media in some ways. In response to Paul's suggestion that Twitter's enabling of thoughtless and endless retweeting without much thought, Gary posits that this is no different from traditional media. The medium has changed, but traditional media hit the “repeat” button a lot too, so the idea that thoughtless retweeting in and of itself invalidates the usefulness of social media in general (and Twitter in particular) falls flat.
Takeaway: Social media has much in common with traditional media. (Translation: The Media Is You.)
Acknowledgement is a good thing. Using the example of people simply being acknowledged, Gary says that it's a good thing that anyone and everyone can create situations in their lives that acknowledge the unique contributions to the world.
Translation: Social media makes it impossible to ignore that everyone matters.
Real friendships vs. “micro-reactions”. Gary compares Paul's reaction to social media to some people's reaction to the introduction of the telephone a century ago, when people thought it would ruin personal relationships. People wondered whether they'd stop spending time together in person because it was easier to just talk on the phone. Of course, we know that didn't happen.
Takeaway: Social media can bring us closer together, not push us further apart.
“Everyman” (and woman) can be empowered. Not everyone who uses new media tools will become wildly successful using them, but Gary says that doesn't matter. If it makes you happy to have seven followers who care about what you know about something, that's a nice thing.
Takeaway: Quality over quantity.
Beyond “Everyman”. For those who want to actually create a brand or a business empire, large or small, social media makes it possible. Just 10 years ago, the barriers to entry for any business were significantly higher. One is lowered now — the one associated with spreading your ideas. Anyone can jump on board and build something for himself or herself, and they have the opportunity to take it as far as they want to.
Takeaway: There are fewer excuses not to achieve.
It's hard to hide. Facebook and other social networking sites have made evertyting transparent. It's harder to hide behind an avatar or a cryptic name these days. Spam is easier to ferret out because there are more people on the lookout for it for the benefit of everyone.
Takeaway: You can run, but you cannot hide.
It's OK that everyone can't be Gary. Paul made several good points, and one was that there are thousands of people calling themselves “social media experts” who are getting rich telling people they can teach them how to become rich using social media. Both acknowledged that problem. (But see above takeaway).
Gary says that the fact that everyone who wants to become a mega-success will not become one doesn't minimize the fact that there is an opportunity to do so, using social media. There's an open field, he says, for everyone to create something of their own. Do what makes you happy, and if you work your a__ off — not just work hard, but work your a__ off — Gary says, you can make it happen.
Takeaway: The sky is the limit.
You can watch this interview on TechCrunch, and follow Gary on Twitter, and you can learn more about Paul at his website.
Question: What are some of your best social media insights?