Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the world’s best known video bloggers and a cottage industry. Gary hosts the ultra-popular WineLibraryTV online show and consults others on the power of digital media for business. Gary’s show gets more than 80,000 daily views and he has more than 900,000 Twitter followers.
Gary has just authored a great new book called Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion
The transcript below conveys only the highlights from our chat. For the whole conversation click the link below or subscribe to all hear2.0 podcasts at iTunes.
Gary, one of your arguments in the book is that media are not something outside of us, we are media. Do you want to explain that?
Yeah, we all should get involved.
I mean you can make a video now for nothing. I mean literally, $200 for a web cam. I guess you need a computer, so that wouldn’t be quite accurate. But almost everybody has one of those, so you’re in the game for almost zero dollars. That’s unbelievable – that you could produce content, you can promote content, you can distribute content for zero dollars. Do you know what that cost ten years ago, everything I just described? I mean you’re talking about millions of dollars – not hundreds of thousands – millions.
And I think people need to really wrap their heads around the idea that you can build a brand around your personality, around your interest – that’s substantial.
I could have done it for zero. I could have done it for zero. So it’s pretty amazing.
You can do it. I mean the eyeballs are now inside the Internet and the Internet doesn’t cost you anything to create in this scenario.
Now you’ve just got to work hard and be good.
A lot of people will listen to this and say “sure, I can put a video out on YouTube but it will get 35 views.” What are you telling me that’s going to take me from 35 views to a phenomenon?
Find your niche. What are you doing the videos about?
If you’re talking about cooking, put up the video – that should take 20 minutes to tape, 5 minutes to put up, and then the next 10 hours of your day should be negotiating meetings and virtually corresponding with people online:
Go into every food forum, find food people on Twitter and Facebook and interact with them.
It’s about getting your hands dirty and promoting and engaging – that is really the game after that.
This is the thing I think that people don’t understand.
Two central points in your book were, number one: Focus on what you’re passionate about and number two: Work your ass off.
And probably #3 is “be patient.”
I mean I talk about that a lot, and that’s the part that might surprise people when they hear me talk.
I’m energetic, I want it all, I’m hungry, but it’s all about patience. These businesses are not built in 24 hours.
People may have a blog and they run it for a month, they don’t get readers and they give up. Well you didn’t promote it, you didn’t do anything. You didn’t get in the trenches, you didn’t work hard enough. It’s not just enough to put out the content.
I hear from a lot of people in the world of broadcasting and they say our staff is cut, we just don’t have the capital, the human capital, we don’t have the time to do all of this stuff. You said work 10 hours answering emails. People are asking where they can find the time. And I guess you would say you’d better find some time – or else.
More importantly, you’ve got to realize that interacting and caring about your community is a job and there is value in that.
People have considered these things nuances and to me, they’re the core.
To me, customer service is your business, you selling something is your nuance.
Everybody thinks it’s the other way around, but that’s where the magic happens.
You had a story in your book about a marketing experiment you did with outdoor and radio and direct mail. Can you talk about that?
Sure. I spent $7500 on a billboard campaign, on a radio campaign, and a print campaign, and then I tweeted out the same exact code and we got more from Twitter than all three combined.
Now, I spent a lot of sweat equity in building up a passionate following to convert that way but the fact of the matter is, that’s interesting, right? Because it was time and sweat, not cash.
And that’s a great example of where sweat beat out $22,000 in cash.
And I think it’s an interesting point too because people initially hear that story and say “well yeah, but he has 900,000 Twitter followers.”
Well at the time I did that, I probably had 100,000.
Listen, if you have 97 people that really care about you, you can build a big business.
That’s an important point. In radio we worship the ratings, the numbers of people we reach. That’s the primary way in which radio stations are rated.
The problem is that you don’t value the people you’re reaching on a human level because if you did, your audience would grow.
Ultimately, where I’ve always won and where I really win is caring. I out-care my competition.
There is nothing else to say.
What advice would you give to broadcasters who want to develop the kind of following you have?
Create your identity online.
Have a Twitter-based bank of talent and then when you’re broadcasting, tell people to come there and say hello. And then when they do, actually engage with them, don’t just say “I’m cool, I’m popular.”
Your book made some points about that kind of overly promotional use of Facebook and Twitter profiles.
Yeah, I mean you can’t just shill.
Listen, nobody likes selling more than me; I’m constantly doing it, but I balance that by my interactions, right?
You have to be in sales – that’s the bottom line, that’s what you do. But the fact of the matter is that engagement should be part of that healthy balance, if not the dominant force.
Some people forget that part.
Your videos are heavy on Gary but light on selling, aren’t they?
Oh yeah, I mean I’ve never had any interest in selling an extra bottle of wine; that would be a byproduct of actually having people care about you.
This is another point that I think is important. Many broadcasters expect every digital media strategy to pay for itself and then some out of the box. And what you’re saying is the end result of these digital strategies is that you monetize what you have to sell, but you don’t necessarily make money off the strategies themselves; is that correct?
That is correct.
Content is not valuable anymore. It’s being put out by the bushel-load, right? I mean there is no differentiator, there is so much strategy and content being put out for free, yet there is a supply and demand issue.
Holding it back and monetizing it is not something you can do.
So you say content isn’t valuable but you’ve attracted an audience to your content because they feel some value in it, don’t they?
And I do believe that but I don’t charge $0.99 to watch my Wine Library videos, right?
Listen, we just hit on something pretty powerful.
A lot of people have said it’s a “free economy” now. I don’t think it’s a free economy; I think it’s a second-tier economy.
The things people monetize now need to be monetized on the next level, on the next layer.
Give me an example of that.
I don’t charge for WineLibraryTV but I do get paid to do private wine events.
I don’t charge to watch Gary Vaynerchuk videos, but I do get paid to sign a million dollar book deal.
Those kinds of things.
If you were sitting in front of the management of a radio station right now and they said look, we’ve got the Twitter page, we’ve got the Facebook page, we’ve got this incredible loudspeaker that goes to hundreds of thousands of people in our market and yet, we have only a thousand Twitter followers, and we don’t really know where to go from here. What should they do?
The magic happens in call in shows because people get to interact, right?
That’s the game, so get your hands dirty in the social media trenches, interact with your fan base. You have a far stronger chance of actually keeping them because of that.
Now you accomplish a lot of what you do on your own as far as I can tell. How in the world do you have the time to do all this?
I try. You just try. That’s all you can do. I just do as much as I can.
I work a lot of hours. I work smart, fast and hard. Everybody is going to have a different DNA and different ability to do that. Mine is high. There are some people that are probably higher and there are some people that lower. You’ve just got find the range.
You don’t give up because it’s hard, you have to put in as much as you can, and people appreciate effort.
It’s the same thing with engagement and caring about your fan base; they appreciate the effort.
Stations won’t necessarily need every single person to get an answer to every single thing every time, but if you keep trying and keep executing often, you’re going to win a lot of people over from that effort.