Interview Spotlight: Gary Vaynerchuk

I first heard of Gary Vaynerchuk earlier this year while having lunch with a friend of mine. She used to work for Robin Sharma, the popular author who writes about leadership development and most famous for the book, ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari‘. We were speaking about who was a great thought leader in social media and she instantly told me to look up Gary Vaynerchuk as Robin spoke very highly of him. I think her exact words were, “Robin says if there is anyone who knows about social media and knows how to use it the best, it is Gary Vaynerchuk.”

So off I went to learn about who this so-called guru of social media was. I read that he first got his fame by starting ‘Wine Library’, a video podcast that specialized in teaching people about anything and everything wine related. He’s written two books, ‘Crush It‘ and ‘The Thank You Economy‘ and has a third coming out this year called ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook‘. Gary has also started a media company named VaynerMedia, an organization committed to helping brands find their voice in social media and to use it right. What I found surprising about Gary is that he is self-taught. He just gets how to use social media naturally. When I started following him on Twitter he would frequently just post things like “How can I help you today?” or “Who should I follow on Twitter?” When you tweet him, he actually responds and if you ask him for something reasonable, he usually says “Done.” Gary engages with his audience and that’s what people love about him.

I learned that Gary started an initiative this year where you could book a couple of minutes of his time for you to interview him. I jumped at the opportunity and he really shared some words of wisdom with me when I asked him three important questions:

For someone who hasn’t read ‘Crush It’ and the Thank You Economy, what are those two books about and where does ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook’ fit into that? Is this the finale of a trilogy or the beginning of a new conversation you are exploring?

‘Crush It’ was about personal branding, ‘The Thank You Economy’ was more philosophical and this new book ‘Jab Jab Jab Right Hook’ is more about Utility. It’s about how you should be using all of these social media properties. I hate to call this a trilogy because my next book may continue on this conversation but what I really hope is for people to use this book as a source of reference. I want everyone to have this book by their office desk and take the information and use it in their projects and when they are carving out their strategies. I hope people see this book as a valuable reference manual that brings their social media initiatives to another level.

Other than contests, how else can a brand use Facebook properly?

Brands need to put useful content on Facebook like tips or Top 10 lists that provide benefit to their customers. That is why I wrote ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook’. I wrote this book to teach people how to use social media platforms most effectively. Providing utility is the best approach that will reach your audience and create engagement.

What would be your advice to a new college graduate who is entering the workforce? How can they succeed in this new business environment using these new tools of marketing?

My advice to them would be, ask why things are done the way they are in the workplace. Challenge the status quo and learn about all these different digital tools out there. Don’t just accept things the way they are. Probe, challenge and put your own stamp on things.

Great advice from a great thought leader. If you are interested in social media, learning more about it but most importantly, studying someone who uses it so well, drop everything and study Gary Vaynerchuk. Also, make sure to pick up his new book, ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook’ this coming November 26, 2013.