Originating from Belarus where he was born on November 14, 1975, Gary Vaynerchuk knows how to use the sweet science of boxing metaphors to express his social media insights.
Vaynerchuk’s third major publication is titled Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook which was first released in November 2013. In Right Hook, Vaynerchuk details social media marketing strategies and tactics loosely based on how to successfully execute audience calls to action via metaphorical right hooks.
I’ll admit that I was just as skeptical about Vaynerchuk’s brash style and blatantly self-promotional approach as I was impressed with his success as a social media guru and acclaimed branding expert.
Yet first impressions about style over substance can be misleading, particularly when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of the written word.
Let’s cast aside any pre-conceived notions and switch into analytical mode. Our mission: Decide whether or not Right Hook is full of bluster or contains practical insights on how to use social media platforms productively.
Join us for a ring-side seat as we separate facts versus fiction perusing the 2013 bestseller from one of the very best social media talkers around.
Attribution for music used in digital book review videos: Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger (Instrumental), with permission from creator Matthew Anniss
Tale of the Tape: What Right Hook Really Means
Spicing up a provocative title with a staccato image, the metaphor Right Hook makes sense in terms of achieving goals on very noisy social media networks where it’s easy to get lost in other people’s stream-of-conscious tangents and sometimes incoherent musings.
Vaynerchuk defines jabs as lightweight content pieces that benefit customers by making them laugh, snicker, ponder, play a game, feel appreciated or escape. In contrast, right hooks mean calls to action that help satisfy your business goals.
Speaking from his own sales experiences, GaryVee says that your social media story needs to move people’s spirits and thus build their goodwill. So, when you finally do ask audience members to buy from you or fulfill another call to action, they feel like you’ve given them so much it would be almost rude to refuse.
Writes Vaynerchuk, “Jab, jab, jab, jab, jab–right hook really means give, give, give, give, give–ask.” (Right Hook, page 24)
Round 1: Storytell on Facebook
In his lengthy Facebook chapter, Vaynerchuk hits the nail on the head by declaring that Facebook’s main currency is friendship. He explains that the definition of great content on Facebook is not a spiel that makes the most sales, but messaging that people want to share with others.
GaryVee warns about assuming there is a simplistic “fountain of youth” template for winning customers on Facebook, or any other social platform for that matter. He elaborates, “There is no formula for cool content, other than that you can’t make it unless you have a deep understanding of what makes your audience tick and what they’re seeking when they use social media.” Your audience analysis must be well thought-out, continuous and thoroughly contemplate all aspects of each audience segment.
Besides harping on the persistent need for detailed audience analyses, Vaynerchuk also presents a useful checklist of “Questions to Ask When Creating Facebook Micro-Content”:
- Is the text too long?
- Is it provocative, entertaining, or surprising?
- Is the photo striking and high-quality?
- Is the logo visible?
- Have we chosen the right format for the post?
- Is the call to action in the right place?
- Is this interesting in any way, to anyone? For real?
- Are we asking too much of the person consuming the content?
That’s a beautifully concise checklist that simply yet perceptively summarizes essential and usable insights specific to the Facebook platform.
Round 2: Listen Well on Twitter
GaryVee has a soft spot for Twitter. He gushes about having used short-and-sweet tweets to deejay his Wine Library business to new heights of international success. Because of the jabbing and hooking that Vaynerchuk preaches, we’re ready when he introduces some inevitable caveats.
Consider Twitter’s 140-character limit, which has obvious advantages for time-pressed users. Vaynerchuk says that too many marketers get lulled into mechanically using Tweets as short summaries with links that lead to content already posted on their blogs.This “spray-and-pray” methodology typically results in your work getting ignored in the continuous torrent of newsy tweets.
Twitter is an extremely noisy platform for audience members, who must feel like they’re trying to drink in tweets from a fire hose at times. GaryVee says instead to deejay on Twitter by wrapping information in an enticing stories. According to Vaynerchuk, this approach gives your messages special context rather than a bland serving of facts “just put out for consumption like a boring platter of cubed cheese.”
In other words, listen well and jab your audience on Twitter rather than exclusively trying to throw right hooks.
GaryVee explains that by packaging information in a unique context, we differentiate ourselves from other Tweeters and pique our audience’s interest. In today’s world of short attention spans and up-to-the-second news flashes, entertainment and escapism are prized above almost anything else. Vaynerchuk calls this trend infotainment; the more creatively you can feed people’s addictions to fast infotainment fixes on social media platforms like Twitter, the more successful you will be.
Another key tip from Vaynerchuk’s analysis is to primarily focus on topics already trending on Twitter based on the number of emerging conversations. You can leverage trending topics by skillfully applying the powerful Twitter search engine to find groups of people who are talking about these popular items, and then adding your thoughtful perspective to pertinent conversation threads. Vaynerchuk also recommends widening the scope of your Twitter account settings to track global, national and regional trends.
On the other hand, you can drive yourself crazy by constantly trying to dream up new trending hashtags. All too often, hashtag creativity slips into chaos. The reason? Twitter hashtags typically have microscopic lifespans and myriad Twitter trends change quickly. It makes more sense to instead listen for what’s already trending, avoiding time wasted when you repeatedly use a shotgun approach to blast out hashtag inventions in the hopes of going viral.
Mirroring Right Hook’s Facebook analysis, Vaynerchuk also showcases a helpful menu of Twitter-specific questions to help us tweak our tweets:
- Is your tweet to the point?
- Is the hashtag unique and memorable?
- Is the image attached high quality?
- Does the voice sound authentic?
- Will it resonate with the Twitter audience?
Round 3: On the Ropes with Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr
Gary strikes me (pun intended) as more of a multi-tasking hustler in this chapter, in part because he spreads himself too thin by tackling several different social media platforms in much fewer pages than were dedicated in Right Hook chapters addressing Facebook and Twitter.
One challenge with Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr is that artistic communities thrive on these visual-centric platforms governed by subjective tastes. Unfortunately, Vaynerchuk is unable to clearly show how these creative thinkers can effectively throw hooks much less those prized right hooks which is supposed to be this book’s overarching premise. GaryVee talks around the thesis by focusing on the theoretical possibilities for each of the emerging platforms, and throws in a verbal hat dance about how to build your general brand identity within these social networks.
GaryVee concedes that each platform is unique and requires distinct tactics, intertwined with the big-picture business strategy. The reality is that stories told through pictures on Instagram may not resonate the same way when told in an identical manner on Pinterest where more collectors and conversationalists reside than mobile content creators. It is perplexing why GaryVee doesn’t specify how to create distinct social media content appropriate to different audience segments based on demographics and, more importantly, social technographics driven by user behaviour.
GaryVee also misses out on multiple opportunities to mention measurement and metrics on these platforms. Within Pinterest, for example, you can create a business account complete with measurement and metrics tools. These empower you to measure the impact of your content in terms of audience engagement–or at least identify gaps that you can then address, control and manage.
Despite these weaknesses, Vaynerchuk does a creditable job in describing the nuances of social media platforms which were just gaining traction in 2013. And yes, GaryVee does provide some examples of marketing ads on Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr although the calls to action in these case studies are fuzzy and generally more focused on building brand equity, as opposed to specific action items that will close a sale for example.
Round 4: Missing Out on Google+, Other Deficiencies
GaryVee fails to furnish even one case study or even a screenshot of an engaging Google+ post, even though he himself has attracted a formidable 2.3 million followers (as of March 2016) on that social platform. This begs the question: Why didn’t Vaynerchuk give practical examples of success from his own Google+ posts that would at least give us some inkling on how to use jabbing and right hooks to build targeted audiences on Google+? It is a disappointing omission, given that many digital businesses depend on a high SEO search rankings and that a strong Google+ presence is thought to be a positive factor in improving SEO scores.
Vaynerchuk also doesn’t mention Google Analytics, a highly successful web traffic and audience insights tool originally rolled out in November 2005 according to Wikipedia, well before Right Hook was published. Currently available for free, Google Analytics can be a powerful go-to toolkit for cutting through social media noise, the latter phrase serving as the “how-to” subtitle for Right Hook. Google Analytics queries and reports enable you to clearly focus on critical success factors for attaining user goals intertwined with vital business objectives.
Turning to LinkedIn, GaryVee likens the business-oriented platform to a library where deals get done. Vaynerchuk adds that LinkedIn affords its members freedom to indulge in long copy on more serious and thoughtful topics. But again, our social media wonderboy presents no examples to support his claims.
Vine and Snapchat are also mentioned as opportunities in emerging networks. Like LinkedIn, there are neither example scenarios nor graphic illustrations to guide us about how to jab and right hook on these relatively new platforms–or at the very least what tactics to avoid.
Reminding me of the lyrics “Give ’em the old razzle dazzle” sung by Richard Gere as a slickster lawyer in the musical Chicago, GaryVee verbally shuffles out of punching range with a lame generality: “For now these platforms offer little opportunities for right hooks. Someone is going to figure it out. Why not you?”
Thanks Gary, but that’s precisely what I expected you to do in a book titled Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.
Round 5: Slugging Out a TKO Decision
OK, so I have several peeves with Vaynerchuk’s book. With all the shortcomings I’ve highlighted, you might think that Right Hook is a waste of time.
You would be wrong.
What I discovered is that social media networks are far too complex and continuously changing to expect a cartoon-style, cookie-cutter recipe for jabbing and right hooking our way to success on a diverse range of digital marketing channels. But if there is one snippet of wisdom to share from GaryVee’s Right Hook conversations, it’s that you won’t win at the social media game if you play your most aggressive move first. You must patiently build up a relationship with your audience before putting out calls to action.
GaryVee’s learnings provide strategic direction, serving as a kind of North Star to help ensure that we’re on the right path. Right Hook is a great starting kit for novices who want to learn how to properly approach social media marketing, especially on Facebook and Twitter. There never can be an exhaustive playbook detailing all the ins and outs for mastering each and every social network, simply because such an encyclopedic work would be out of date on publication date.
When I first chose Right Hook for this digital book report, in the back of my mind I was dreaming about imitating Gary Vaynerchuk’s undeniable success. I’d become the new Mike Tyson of social media marketing as it were.
I soon discovered that Right Hook doesn’t preach following Vaynerchuk’s lead. This is for practical realities, not copyright considerations: GaryVee’s day-to-day tactics are highly individualistic, unique to his mindset and identity which shape how he sees the world.
As Vaynerchuk says in Right Hook, “Whatever you do, however, stay true to yourself. Do not pretend to be cooler than you are. Don’t be the guy who hollers ‘Raise the Roof’ one year too late. Being cool has nothing to do with your age; it has to do with how solid your identity is. Do not pretend to be anyone other than who you are.”
Right Hook gives a strong affirmation of individualism. So much so that I was galvanized into searching for other GaryVee comments concerning the importance of approaching social media marketing on your own terms and to the best of your ability.
I also tweeted @GaryVee that, as an introvert, I used to envy his energy and gift of the gab. But after reading Right Hook, I now choose to focus on doing what I love and use social media the best way that I can. GaryVee liked my tweet.
For more thoughts on the importance of developing your own jabbing and right hooking style on social networks, please peruse the following video that follows a day in GaryVee’s life as he conveys the “do your own thing” message.