6 Social Media Lessons from Gary Vaynerchuk at SXSW

6 Social Media Lessons from Gary Vaynerchuk at SXSW

8 March 2014

Gary Vaynerchuck is the founder of Wine Library TV, co-founder of social media agency VaynerMedia, and the author of several popular books on social media and business, including his most recent book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.

Presenting on day 1 of South by Southwest, he spoke on a variety of topics related to business, social media, startups, career development, running a company, and what not to do at events (like SXSW).

Below I’ve distilled 6 lessons that all companies can apply related to social media. These were inspired by the experiences and insights that Gary shared during the session.

1) Don’t Be a Taker

People seem to think that the best way to grow their business or brand is to use events like SXSW or social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to constantly push their own agenda. To push people to use their product, to attend their events, or to join their community. No, this isn’t how it works.

The key is to create value for people and let the cards fall where they may. This will create infinitely more value for your brand than constantly “taking”.

The lesson? Don’t always push your agenda and be a taker. Become a giver – whether it’s at the brand level or at an individual level.

2) One Tweet Can’t Kill a Brand

Executives are constantly worrying about the damage that a Tweet can have to their brand. Because of this, they’re afraid to allow their employees to try things in social media. They put so many rules and restrictions in place that no one can do anything. This constant worry shows a “lack of perspective”.

Gary’s advice. If you put the 22 year old intern in charge of social media (which is often the case), and they make a mistake, you need to own it. Apologize (authentically) and move on!

The lesson? Spend your time worrying about improving your products and stop worrying about that one errant Tweet.

3) Offense Beats Defense

Running a social media agency (VaynerMedia), you’d think Gary would be out there observing various brands and constantly trying to learn from what they’re doing (and who’s doing it best). In reality, Gary spends less time focusing on what others brand are doing. Instead, he spends most of his time understanding what would create value for his clients’ audiences and developing strategies to execute on those things.

Rather than trying to observe others and responding – which is like playing defense – spend your time understanding humans and what you can do to add value to them (online or off).

The Lesson? Find ways to add value to your audience and proactively do that – regardless of what other companies are doing.

4) Spend More Time Doing

Success in social media requires that companies do things. Test, learn and evolve. Don’t just spend time learning and planning. Allow your employees to get out there and do things.

The lesson? Keep trying out new things online. Try a new social media platform. Test a new type of online ad.

5) Ignore Social Media Pundits (and their tool opinions)

Gary admits that he can’t predict the next winning social media tool, like a SnapChat. In fact, you should ignore most pundits who often haven’t tried the tools. Or even if they have, take it with a grain of salt because they may not be the target demographic.

He actively develops his own perspective on new tools by using them intensively himself (e.g. a couple of weeks for Vine).

The lesson? Don’t trust pundits who don’t truly “get” the tools. At the end of the day, the users will determine what will be successful and what won’t be.

6) To Grow Your Brand, Become a User

When growing Wine Library TV, Gary didn’t have a large budget. To grow his company’s reach, he became an active participant in all of the wine forums. Not pushing his brand, but just participating by asking and answering questions. That allowed him to add value while also getting his brand out there.

The lesson? Don’t market at your audience, become one of them and learn, engage and grow.

People and brands need to rethink how they market and engage in social media. Start from a “giving” mindset, understand your audience, develop ways to add value and “execute”.

What do you see that isn’t working?

What else do you see online that isn’t working for people or brands? Let us know in the comments!