Gary Vaynerchuk Knows How to Jab His Way to the Top

Gary Vaynerchuk Alex Cequea Jab Jab Jab right hook

I just finished reading Gary Vaynerchuk’s new book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World. First off, I have to admit that I’m becoming a bit of a Vaynerchuk superfan. The strategies he outlines in his book have worked on me, and his book lets me peek behind the scenes to understand why it worked in the first place. If you’re trying to use today’s social media platforms to tell a compelling story, this book is the only tool and guide you’ll need.

Gary Vaynerchuk is the definition of HUSTLE

I agreed to post this review because he asked me to. Not exactly personally, but it might as well have been. Over the last year or so, I’ve watched Gary respond to almost every single Tweet and Facebook comment he receives. With over 1 million Twitter followers and close to 150 thousand fans on Facebook, that’s an impressive feat. He answered two of my questions on Twitter, one of them within 30 seconds of asking it. Over the last several months, I’ve watched him invite his followers to pre-order 5 copies of his book (if you emailed him the receipt, he would send you a special gift). I pre-ordered 5 copies, sent him the receipt, and commented on his Facebook post that I’d just done it. A few minutes later, he told me that I rocked. He did this with hundreds of Facebook comments as well. About a month later, he asked if anyone would be willing to review it. I agreed, and once again, I got a pat on the back. Aw, thanks Gary!

That’s how it works with Gary Vaynerchuk. He’s using today’s social media platforms to build long-term relationships, and these little moments of personal interaction, where he goes out of his way to show appreciation or give people additional value, are what he calls “jabs.” The idea is that the jabs prepare the audience to eventually be open to receiving a right hook, or “ask.”

Gary Vaynerchuk personally answers almost every comment on Facebook and Twitter.
Gary Vaynerchuk personally answers almost every comment on Facebook and Twitter.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook= Give, Give, Give, Ask

His latest book breaks down the do’s and don’ts of every major social media platform including Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, LinkedIn, Google+, and of course, Facebook. In fact, he spends most of the book talking about Facebook. He shows how companies big and small are either effectively using the platforms to jab their customers, or how they are wasting opportunities with confusing or downright stupid content. He’s like a movie critic, but for how businesses are using social media.

What Worked for Me

I had several Aha moments with this book. The most interesting idea was the understanding that each platform speaks a different language, so what works on Twitter won’t likely work on Facebook or Tumblr. In one example, he compared posting the same content to different platforms as going to Norway and speaking Icelandic instead of Norwegian and saying, “Eh, close enough.”

The analogy that really helped me put social media into context was the idea that social media is like TV when it first disrupted radio. The first TV commercials were people just sitting in front of the camera reading ads designed for radio. That’s what we’re essentially doing with social media. We’re using what worked on TV and Print and posting it on Facebook without understanding that it’s a new language and medium.

Posting the same content to different social media platforms is like going to Norway and speaking Icelandic instead of Norwegian, and saying, “Eh, close enough.”

Another insight was the idea of context, which I’d heard Gary talk about before, but I never fully understood it. Context is basically understanding what’s happening in the lives of your customers or target audience. If everyone is talking about a TV show on Twitter, for example, don’t barge in trying to talk about how great your new non-profit is. If your followers really care about a certain celebrity, join the conversation and ride the wave of their attention. If you do it in an authentic way, it’ll humanize your brand and you’ll stand out from the stiff and rigid tone of most big corporations. 

What Didn’t Work for Me

There were several aspects of the book that I had a hard time with. First, I had a tough time caring about the details of platforms I’m not currently using. I’m not on Pinterest or Tumblr, so I had to constantly remind myself of their importance, and resist the urge to skip ahead. Even though he did try to explain their importance through their growth statistics and number of active users, I think he could have made a stronger case for why we should care. I do get their importance and benefit, but if I were to put myself in the shoes of someone who doesn’t get the value of social media in the first place (these are the people who will likely receive my extra copies of the book as gifts), I can see how this book could misfire and fail to connect. I can see them going, “Why should I care about what works best on Pinterest?”

Gary loves social media because “it sells shit.” I don’t want to just sell shit. I want to make a difference in the world, and tell stories that matter.

Also, I sometimes got the feeling that the effort required to really stand out in these social media platforms is insurmountable. Gary is probably the hardest-working online personality I’ve ever come across, and his book either fires me up to work incredibly hard, or deflates me with the thought that I’ll never be able to do what it takes to succeed. It’s a double-edged sword. Most of the time, I greatly appreciate how hard Gary works. In my opinion, it’s the piece Millenials are missing. Passion alone doesn’t get shit done. But passion plus hard work, now that’s an unstoppable combination.

Lastly, as someone who ultimately wants to make the world a better place, I can’t find the higher calling in his message. I know that Gary cares deeply about people and he’s supremely passionate about his work, but he’s repeatedly said that the reason he loves social media is because “it sells shit.” I don’t want to just sell shit. I want to make a difference in the world, tell stories that matter, and highlight the people and causes that move us forward. Yes, some selling of shit will happen in the process, it has to in order to remain financially sustainable, but this is a secondary goal for me.

Final Verdict

Aside from my comments above, I think this is a fantastic book, and anyone wanting to maximize the value of any of the major social media platforms should read it. My favorite quote, which pulls several ideas together, was, “Content is king, context is god, and then there’s effort. Together they are the holy trinity.” This combination, he says, is the secret to winning at any platform and any business.

I’m happily adopting this new religion.

What did you think of the book? Did you read it? Are you thinking of reading it? Let me know in the comments below!

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