Maybe it’s force of habit, or maybe it’s out of genuine concern, but Gary Vaynerchuk can’t seem to resist offering me some unsolicited career advice.
The man known across digital marketing circles as “Gary Vee” was the star speaker at Haste & Hustle: Generation Now, which brought together young entrepreneurs in Toronto this week to examine strategies to improve they they sell, market and grow their businesses.
Vaynerchuk, who parlayed the successful marketing of his wine business into a major digital agency, VaynerMedia, is known for having a blunt, expletive-filled approach to guiding everyone from clients to everyday fans. He’s also known for being highly responsive across Twitter, LinkedIn and almost every other imaginable social channel, answering the most specific questions.
That may be why, when he was asked about whether B2B firms need to market themselves on social media differently than consumer-oriented firms, his “100 per cent” was followed up with a prediction of what my future job will be: overseeing the content of a major tech firm.
“My No. 1 thing for B2B companies is to think about social the way they think about the B2B magazines they read,” he said. “I think if you’re a SaaS product that’s going after CIOs, you need to figure out what magazines the CIOs are still reading in the trade, and then be the business that creates content that looks similar to that.”
While the messaging they create may involve third parties today, however, Vaynerchuk said that will change drastically over time.
“Every business will have an editor-in-chief, and as journalism changes and recalibrates, that just like a chief marketing officer and a chief brand officer — I absolutely believe this — that in 15 years, every Fortune 1,000 company will have an editor-in-chief. Because it won’t be good enough to just advertise. You’re going to have to act like media.”
Vaynerchuck recently published Crushing It!, the followup to his 2009 tome Crush It!, both of which look at how social media can create real influence and business value. In some cases it starts as a customer service channel, he admitted, but the most successful companies develop their presence while also identifying and allying themselves with the most social media savvy professionals in their ecosystem. Whereas some worry about the metrics and ROI of influencer marketing, for example, Vanyerchuk said he is only excited.
“I’m bullish as hell on it,” he said. “The problem is that people don’t know how to price themselves. You have some people who think they’re amazing and are worth $10,000 a post, and they’re really worth $40 . . .Or in a B2B context, there’s 15 tastemakers who don’t realize they’re worth a hell of a lot more than 100 bucks to put up a post around their thought on the new app or the new SaaS product.”
Recent algorithm changes at Facebook have shown the vulnerability of sectors like publishing when they depend on social media. Despite authoring multiple books on the promise of such channels, Vaynerchuk said firms need to go in with their eyes wide open.
“They need to screw the platform before the platform screws them,” he says. “There’s the Internet, then there’s the layer above the Internet that controls the next tier, which is Google, and Apple and Amazon and Facebook. You have to be great at it, but you can’t be lazy, because then Google and Apple and Amazon will eat your business. Got it? The Internet is the highway. They’re the toll booths. You’ve got to pay those toll booths, but you’ve got to be very strategic in how you pay.”
If that makes LinkedIn, Twitter and the like sound less like traditional “business partners,” that’s the point, Vaynerchuk added.
“I look at them as frenemies,” he said. “They’re places where I can get awareness, but I don’t want to be at the mercy of that. Which is why I’m prolific across all platforms. I’m diversifying.”