Social media marketing impresario Gary Vaynerchuk got his start in his father's New Jersey liquor store, transforming it from a $3 million local business into WineLibrary.com, a $45 million Internet discount wine retailer. He then created Wine Library TV, adding an element of entertainment to an industry noted for its frumpiness. The latter not only added value to Vaynerchuk's wine business, but it also allowed his brand to tell a unique and compelling story.
Using storytelling as a way to guide a company's social media strategy has become one of Vaynerchuk's mantras in recent years. "Everybody looks at social media as distribution of information," he says. "I look at it as native platforms where you should be storytelling. And I think storytelling is the big thing that nobody's talking about."
Here are Vaynerchuk's three ideas for incorporating storytelling into your social media marketing plan.
1. Know your story. A lot of times, when Vaynerchuk talks to clients about the importance of storytelling, he gets blank stare. How does he respond? "The first question is, 'What the hell do you want to happen?' he says. "Do you want to sell your soda? Do want to make the retailers that sell your soda think of you in a different way? Are you using it to recruit talent? Do you want to sell impressions against that content?" These are the questions a storyteller asks. For a business, refining the narrative means everything.
2. Don't be religious. Just as we tend to tune out stories that are overly pedantic, being falsely principled about how you're willing to make money is a recipe for disaster. "I believe being religious about how you make your money is the quickest way to go out of business," Vaynerchuk says. "If Blockbuster wasn't religious about being in the retail business, they would have bought Netflix or competed with it. Netflix wouldn't have put them out of business. The only way we make money is based on the consumer's eyes and ears and attention."
Be unpredictable. Great page-turners captivate our attention because we don't know what will happen next. Likewise, Vaynerchuk says, with great businesses. "Do you know what happens when you throw five straight right hooks? The person on the other side ducks. This is one of the reasons Vaynerchuk supports paying for ads on social networks. "I know that's so not sexy and probably the biggest curve ball I've thrown for all my fans," he says. "But this is not 2007, when you followed someone and they followed back. For people trying to organically build base, that ship has sailed. On Facebook, you can pay 80 cents to somebody who you only pay if they want to follow you. Social media is mature enough now that we all realize you'll be pitching in some way."