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Stay on the Offense

Now I know that my most recent book is a collection of case studies specifically looking at brands and their behavior on social media. That was a very specific thing and I was looking to provide a very specific kind of value. That said, when I give talks, one question I get all the time is: “Who is doing it the best on social media?”

It’s something that kind of throws me for a loop every time, but I’ve decided that it’s actually a great opportunity for me to speak philosophically about how I handle all of my businesses.
One of the reasons that I think I’ve had success throughout my career is that I stay on the offense. When it comes to business, I’m almost incapable of playing defense. In the context of this discussion, playing defense would mean spending time looking other brands to see what they’re doing on Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram/Vine. Now there are a lot of good reasons to do that.
I respect people who want to do that.
I have zero interest in doing that.
I spend absolutely all of my time looking at what I think human beings are doing and trying to figure out how to bring them value. It doesn’t matter what anybody else is doing because it’s all the same game. We’re all aware of all the brands bombarding us with offers and opportunities, and we know what that has classically looked like. The real question is how do you provide value inside of that context.
I don’t need to see how Puma or Nissan are doing it. That’s not going to help me do anything any better than I’m doing it now. So the truth is that I stay on offense. I’d much rather test, learn, rinse and repeat. I’d rather learn authentically from my own actions. More importantly, I’d rather learn from the audience that has opted in to hear from me instead of thinking that there is any psychological connection between a sneaker brand who had a successful campaign and the cereal brand that I’m working on right now.
So when people ask me the question “Who do you think is doing it right on social” I actually hate it because there are two ways for me to go:
  1. I can be inauthentic, read a headline, and say something like “Taco Bell” because I know that they’re widely accepted as “doing it well.”
  2. I can sound like a jerk and give a total non-answer like this piece that has the chance to leave the asker without the value they were expecting.
I guess the other option would be 3: I give my total non-answer and inspire some people to test and learn inside the communities they already have. I think I like that one the best.
Published: April 25, 2014

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Gary Vaynerchuk

Bestselling author and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk began his career in his family’s business, Shopper’s Discount Liquors. He soon rebranded the store as Wine Library, launching a retail website and boosting its revenue from $4 million to $60 million. In 2006, Vaynerchuk launched Wine Library TV, a daily video blog about wine. With the tagline “changing the wine world,” the show offers an unpretentious approach to a historically stuffy subject. As the audience grew and word spread of his informal and unorthodox approach to wine, Gary made numerous national television appearanches and landed a book deal.  Follow @GaryVee on Twitter.

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