Social media has transformed the way people interact with one another and the way companies engage consumers. When businesses struggle to maximize their social media presence they turn to Gary Vaynerchuk, the CEO of VaynerMedia, to develop social media strategies. Gary and his family immigrated from the Soviet Union in the 1970s and created a liquor store in New Jersey. Gary transformed this business into the Wine Library and embraced social media before most people did. His knack for understanding digital platforms helped his family business go from $3 million to $60 million in revenue. Gary used this success to turn himself into a brand. He started writing bestselling business books, and eventually started his own digital marketing agency. Farnoosh Torabi wants to follow Gary to understand how a social media expert stays ahead of everyone when everything is changing.
Walking into Gary’s office, Farnoosh learns he is cozy in chaos which is why his office isn’t as organized as one would imagine. Talking about his business goals, Gary shares in addition to wanting to have this business for the rest of his life he also wants to buy the New York Jets. Gary explains that he learned English and got friends because he was a fan of the Jets, and has been a fan since.
While talking about why Gary views himself as a true entrepreneur Gary tells Farnoosh, “I like the game of entrepreneurship more than the fruits that it gives me.” Gary and Farnoosh are then interrupted by his assistant. Following him, Farnoosh is impressed by his excited energy and persistent focus despite being consistently busy with demanding work. Farnoosh sees this as one of the reasons why Gary is such an important figure in digital marketing – he truly believes hard work is rewarded, or as Gary states, “Effort is grossly underrated.”
One of Gary’s many responsibilities is hosting his series ‘The #AskGaryVee Show.’ It is a YouTube show in which Gary answers questions about marketing and social media. And while Gary isn’t directly paid to do so, the show reaches over a million subscribers and helps Gary continue to build and maintain his brand. This is another reason why Gary is a leader in his field – he has managed to brand himself as the expert of social media and marketing.
Talking to Gary about his approach to helping clients, Farnoosh asks him to think of a social media campaign for a flower shop. Gary immediately responds the first thing he’d do is get to the business’s finish line. Knowing the shop just wants to make more money Gary recommends they should turn to Facebook Ads. Since Facebook has over a billion users, if an ad only gets one percent of its users, a company would have access to some of the largest transactions in the world. In addition to the size of the user base, Facebook allows companies to micro-target users and that is key to Gary’s approach to social media marketing.
Farnoosh then follows Gary into a meeting that is just booked for ten minutes – so everything is discussed fast. The subject for the meeting is a marketing campaign for a company that wishes to not have its name revealed on the show. Farnoosh can share that VaynerMedia is planning to do 90 ads for this company. Though this sounds ambitious, VaynerMedia has learned how to make multiple versions of an ad that have unique variations. This will allow the company to target distinct market demographics. In other words, they will create a version of an ad for young college women, one for older women, and so forth. Overall, social media allows companies to only advertise to people interested in their product. In this meeting Gary tells his staff that he wants them to increase the ad videos to two to four minutes. He explains an advantage of social media is they aren’t confined to the 15/30 sec ad space of television. These longer videos on social media allow companies to explain what they and their products are, and it allows companies to remarket themselves to people who have specifically viewed and liked previous ads.
Though Farnoosh finds VaynerMedia’s ten minute meetings to be unusual, they are hyper-effective. Not only does the time limit cut out unnecessary chatter, it forces his employees to come prepared ahead of time. Farnoosh also sees that another reason why Gary is so successful is that he is able stay focused on the topics at hand.
In addition to working with Fortune 500 companies, VaynerMedia also works with individual celebrities. The athlete Gary is meeting with today is Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors. Gary shares that he wants Draymond to engage in Snapchat more. As the third most popular app, Snapchat allows celebrities to engage their fans with uniquely visualized stories to tell people more about their lives. With all of his clients, Gary communicates there is a land grab in the early stages of all social media platforms and it is important for people to stake their claim early on in order to build their profile’s presence. In regards to Draymond, Gary wants him to share content that people can’t find on ESPN or TMZ as a way to build his brand.
At a dinner with Gary and members of his senior executives, Farnoosh hears Gary explain why today’s athletes are so much smarter than previous generations. The reason he gives is that they know that they have short careers and need to think of life after they stop playing professionally. Farnoosh is also impressed it has been 13 hours since she met him and Gary is still going strong. Given that he preaches hustle and that achievement is within everyone’s grasp, it makes since t he will work non-stop during a day.
The next day is similar to the previous one as Farnoosh learns Gary has back-to-back meetings all day. Thirty to be exact, and one of them with a new app company called After School Gary is an early investor in. Gary wants this app to do well because it has millions of young users whose market behaviors he can learn about. This will allow him to prepare for the social media landscape for years to come. Gary understands that no media platform will remain static and he needs to remain on the cutting edge. Gary explains to Farnoosh as technology evolves nonstop companies have to keep on running or they die.
After spending two days with Gary, Farnoosh agrees that few can outwork Gary and his passionate expertise for social media is ingrained into the DNA of this company. More importantly, his willingness to evolve with technology allows him and his company to stay ahead of his competition.