This article was originally published on my Medium account
“When I hear people debate the ROI of social media? It makes me remember why so many business fail. Most businesses are not playing the marathon. They’re playing the sprint. They’re not worried about lifetime value and retention. They’re worried about short-term goals.” — Gary Vaynerchuk
This is a pitfall that many fall into with social media. Business owners often focus so intently on ROI for a specific post or ad placement that they ignore the long term benefits of establishing a brand online. If you run an ad for $20 and 5,000 people see it, but only 2 buy your product is that a success or failure?
5,000 people were exposed to your brand and what your business is. Those people will remember what you stand for and your values. Very, very few successful ads have a frequency of just 1. Sometimes it takes 10 or more exposures to a brand before consumers start to buy into (and literally buy) the concept. Many people, some older, think of social media as a sort of money printing machine. They put a $20 ad in, $100 of sales comes out. That’s simply not true.
“Building a brand is more than accruing money in a bank account. A brand has money, yes, but most importantly it has social capital. It has people who care about it and share it with their friends. That’s not something that happens overnight, and it’s not even something that happens over several weeks. To build a successful brand on social media, you need to commit to it in the long run. “
This quote by Gary Vaynerchuk summarizes how important social capital and engagement can be for a brand — not just ROI or profit. By having conversations with their audience, being relatable, and sharing content that is relatable to their target audience — brands can have just as much success on social media and in the longterm see the profit they are hoping for. Building a committed relationship with a reader or follower can have just as many positives as selling them a product one time.
With social media platforms today, Vaynerchuk’s philosophy is as fitting as ever: a friendly impression can mean more than an effective ad. As Vaynerchuk said in #AskGaryVee “Put out quality content every day and engage around it.” As I’ve learned throughout my UF social media management class, when your audience can participate in conversations with you and get instant answers to questions on topics ranging from shipping to a brand’s philosophy, they’re building a connection that will impact that consumer in more than one way. Snapchat is an excellent example of this philosophy, because it enables a brand to not only talk to a viewership, but also show their viewers and transport them to a more immersive experience and make an even more long-lasting and memorable experience.
As Vaynerchuk says in his book #AskGaryVee, “All the best apps, companies, and products have broken the way we live life, transformed how we communicate, and changed our day-today.” Although as a communications major I don’t aspire to own my own company or app, I do have a product to sell an audience — which is my writing. By following this motto of Gary Vee’s, I understand now that telling a story through all my media platforms that “transforms how we communicate” and can provide a new perspective to my reader will be exponentially more successful than an article that only seeks to meet the bar, instead of raising it.
Brands can learn from this motto by seeking to raise their bar, too. A goal to only be present, and equal as your competition accomplishes nothing. Do you remember everyone who received a participation trophy in your little league? Probably not. But you likely do remember the best, the ones who stood out.
Standing out does not have to mean doing something crazy or overboard. In the current state of social media, standing out can be as simple as answering the tough questions about your business. Customer have a problem? It’s easy to give them a canned response and a coupon. But companies who interact with customers and work toward solutions are so few and far inbetween that they’re newsworthy.
Many companies have innovative ideas for how to accomplish their goals on social media. However, as #AskGaryVee says “Ideas are worthless without execution.” To successfully reach your desired demographic and meet your branding aspirations, it is absolutely critical to take your plan and execute it to the best of your ability. By crafting a step-by-step “gameplay” for social media and meeting every step and more, you are establishing yourself and your company as someone who not only meets the standards but goes above and beyond.
“The quality of a brand’s storytelling is directly proportional to the quality of its content,” and this does not only apply to brands in the communications/journalism arena. A brand that hopes to use content to sell a product — which should be all of them — should focus first on telling a story, and second on creating the content. To some, they may seem the same but have different implications. Wendy’s is a great example of storytelling: they consistently tweet humorous or satirical content to other brands or their consumers free of promotional messages. However, if, for instance, they were to make a commercial about @Hardee’s blocking them on twitter, it would be far more popular than a commercial that attempts to use humor with no history of that concept in the brand’s past.
In conclusion, Gary Vaynerchuk is the king of social media for one reason — he engages. #AskGaryVee will go down in history because he encouraged his followers to hold a conversation, and used that rhetoric to tell a story. I personally aim to follow in his footsteps to be more engaging, and I know that more brands could benefit from creating relatable and conversational content.