I started listening to the audio version of a book called, “The Thank you Economy”, read by the author Gary Vaynerchuk.  The content of the book, which is basically how to use social media effectively as a business and why, is actually quite interesting when explained by Vaynerchuk.  I’ve read plenty of blogs and articles on this very topic and therefore am fairly familiar with many of the concepts covered, but Vaynerchuk has an undeniable charisma that makes the book unexpectedly enjoyable.  The fact that, in the audio version, he frequently goes off script, which he prefaces by saying, “I’m going off script here” is all the more entertaining.
So, who is Gary Vaynerchuk?  I wasn’t sure myself prior to listening to the book and only downloaded it because it was in the top 5 recommendations in its category from an audio book website I was visiting, but according to the internet, Gary is co-founder and CEO of VaynerMedia, a brand consulting agency and co-owner and director of operations of Wine Library, an online wine retailer and is aptly in tune with the power of social media.
In his book, which I haven’t yet finished, so no spoilers please ;), Vaynerchuk explains that we are, “…going back to small town rules…” when it comes to business.  As in, everyone knows everyone and word gets around, so you’d better treat your customers right.  He also described it as “…the humanization of business.”  It’s an alluring concept, one that paints a mental picture of a Pleasantville like town where you know the people you do business with personally and have known them for a long time.  You go to the same tailor and baker because you’ve developed a personal relationship and you know they truly care about your interests.  This is the direction Vaynerchuk describes that social media for businesses is taking us: Companies and brands that are responsive to their customers because their customers have the power to make or break them using the power of word of mouth (via social media).  If done right, a socially aware company can bolster their reputation and grow their client base, but if done wrong or haphazardly can result in a cashier awkwardly mumbling your name in attempts to fake a store’s connection to its customer, “Thank you Mr. Weamephmphmmuuurr…” or even worse slowly eroding your business entirely.
In my experience, to gain from social media and even face to face interactions with people you want to do the following:
  • Be genuine, BS stinks and everyone can smell it
  • Be a representative of your business, but unless it’s a sales call or someone is ready to be sold to don’t try to sell to people
  • Be willing to give some of it away for free, show people what you know and what you can do and they may be more willing to employ your services
  • Be entertaining, don’t hinder your credibility just to make a joke, but keep in mind that there is a reason why the most popular category of apps sold on smart phones is games