You don't have to be a wine lover to know the name Gary Vaynerchuk, founder of the Winelibary.com, which owes much of its success to his videoblog Wine Library TV. Vaynerchuk's 2009 book Crush It! was a New York Times bestseller, and he was listed on BusinessWeek's "Top 20 People Every Entrepreneur Should Follow."
His new book, The Thank You Economy, which came out last week, has all the makings of another hit.
Vaynerchuk is a successful entrepreneur, and The Thank You Economy is a great practitioner's back-to-the-future treatment on leveraging social media to get closer to customers and treat them the way good "mom and pop" stores did (and still do).
The power of social media will force business leaders to start thinking like small-town shop owners: allowing "the personality, heart, and soul of the people who run all levels of the business to show," having authentic conversations, and demonstrating real caring. "We're living in what I like to call the Thank You Economy," he writes, "because only the companies that can figure out how to mind their manners in a very old-fashioned way--and do it authentically--are going to have a prayer of competing."
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Social media is like a kidney, says Vaynerchuk. You can survive with one, but your odds are better with two. And in the future, "social media will be as important to a business as a strong heart."
There are 11 excuses not to go "all in" with a social media strategy, each of which are easily dismissed with data. Which of these have you heard in your company?
- The metrics aren't reliable
- Social media is still too young
- Social media is just another trend that will pass
- We need to control our message
- We're doing fine without it
- We tried it, it doesn't work
- The legal issues are too thorny
- It takes too long to pay off
- Social media works only for startup, life-style, or tech brands
There are sixteen points to winning in The Thank You Economy, but the most meaningful (and hardest to achieve) is the one that reads "Instill a culture of caring in your business by":
- Mentally committing to change
- Setting the tone through your words and actions
- Investing in your employees
- Hiring culturally compatible DNA, and spotting it within your existing team
- Being authentic--whether online or offline, say what you mean and mean what you say
- Empowering your people to be forthright, creative, and generous
I loved the timeline (pages 39-40) of how Yelp displaced the venerable Zagat as the restaurant-review business of choice, which goes something like this:
Zagat is the go-to guide for foodies the world over until 2004, when former PayPal employees Jeremy Stoppelman and Russel Simmons launch Yelp, a new, free site driven by user reviews.
By 2008, Yelp has 10 million unique visitors. Zagat tries to sell its business that year, but there are no takers. Later that same year, Yelp releases its free iPhone app, while Zagat launches a $10 iPhone app.
By 2009, Yelp reports 25 million unique visitors, while the $25-per-year membership fee-based Zagat gets 270,000. December 2009 sees Yelp turn down a $550 million offer from Google and $700 million offer from Microsoft, having become one of the great Internet brands.
In 2010, Zagat finally gets with it by teaming with Foursqaure and embracing social media strategies like enabling users to post photos and comments about their experiences.
Business leaders and owners struggling to craft a viable approach to social media, or simply wishing to have a better understanding through real-world examples.
What Others Are Saying:
"It's tempting to be fooled by Gary's force-of-nature approach to the world and believe that the new marketing is just for hyperenergetic, over-the-top, insightful, fast-talking, wannabe football team owners. Not true. It's for anyone who cares. Once again, Gary is generously showing the way, teaching by example, and making the truth obvious. Buy this book for your clueless boss." --Seth Godin