By Allan Maurer
Social media is part of a “massive cultural shift,” and marketers better pay attention, Gary Vaynerchuk told the crowd that packed all three ballrooms at the Internet Summit at he Raleigh Convention Center Wednesday.
Vaynerchuk, author of “The Thank You Economy,” and “Crush It!” grabbed the audience with a funny but take-away laced talk that filled the Twittersphere with praise for his performance.
Vaynerchuk has appeared on numerous national television programs as a wine and marketing expert, including Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Ellen Degeneres Show, The Today Show, The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Dr. Oz Show, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, CNN’s Your $$$$, and CNBC’s Power Lunch.
King of Social Media hit Facebook limit
Known as the “King of Social Media,” Gary is one of the first-and one of a few-Facebook users who has maxed-out his friend limit, with over 17,000 pending friend requests.
He is in the top 100 people followed on Twitter and has been headline keynote at South by Southwest Interactive conference and the New Media and Web 2.0 expos.
In 2009, Gary was recognized as Innovator of the Year by Wine Enthusiast and featured in Decanter magazine’s “Power List” of the 50 most influential people in wine. Additionally, AskMen.com listed Gary among the 49 Most Influential Men of 2009.
He made his point about how things have changed by asking the audience how many of them once said they would never use a cell phone then how many have one now. Only one person among the 1800 or so present was still without a mobile phone.
He asked how many people had said they thought they would never want a Facebook account, and many raised their hands. But nearly everyone admitted having one now.
“Take a look at any five people while you’re driving. Three out of four are texting while driving. It’s scary. So people aren’t looking at billboards. They’re not even watching the road,” he quipped, not entirely tongue-in-cheek.
“The culture is changing. The Internet disrupted the music business, the publishing business, newspapers, and the way we talk to each other. We’re living in a cocktail party. That’s what the web is, a cocktail conversation. That’s the single biggest thing changed by the web. The way we talk to each other. And the way we talk to each other is the absolute fiber of how we sell.”
Push, push, push no longer works
But, many marketers go about using social media wrong, he said. They’re used to the way they delivered messages in the past via radio, TV, and print, where they push, push, push their messages.
“But no one wants you to pound their commercial down their throat on their Facebook page. Most businesses are not good at social media and they make the same mistake a 19-year-old dude makes talking to a woman the first time. They try to close in their first conversation.”
In this new social media world, he said, “Context is king. That’s what everyone will be talking about for the next decade: context. We’re living through the humanization of business.”
Years ago, we lost friends as we proceeded through life, lost high school friends, college friends, and so on. Most people in the crowd admitted reconnecting with old friends they had not heard from in decades via Facebook. “Now,” he said, “you can’t get rid of friends.”
Building individual human relationships is the way social media works, though, he added. “The gate keepers of our society have lost their keys. Every person here is now a media company with their smartphones and flipcams and the Internet. Consumers now have so much more ability to contribute to the conversation.”
That’s true even in B2B firms, he said. “Behind every “B” there is a “C.”
The way to win in social is “be bigger than you are,” he said. Selling wine, for instance, he said his company employs a person just to look up customer Twitter and Facebook accounts to learn a bit about their interests. Then, following a purchase, the firm would send an appropriate gift, a Bears shirt to a Chicago football fan, for instance, or some other appropriate gift as a thank-you.
Often that resulted in customers spending as much as 200 percent more.
Don’t sell all the time
He also suggests that you don’t have to try to sell something everytime you answer a consumer question.
Among the predictions Vaynerchuk made: in the not too distant future, everything will be “smart,” including your refrigerator and tube of toothpaste, both communicating with the Internet.
He also suggests that everyone will get so much free stuff based on their “social graph” in the future that they will get tired of it – one point on which some in the audience disagreed. “I don’t think I’ll get tired of getting free things” one told him.