What Gary Vaynerchuk Thinks About Social Media and B2B

I recently had the opportunity to interview Gary Vaynerchuk as part of his “1 a Day Q&A” initiative. As background, Gary is a best-selling author and entrepreneur who grew his family’s wine store from a $3 million to $45 million business, in large part by launching an e-commerce site, winelibrary.com. In addition, his video series (filmed using a FlipCam and a New York Jets bucket) has attracted thousands of viewers and a cult-like following. He has also written two best-selling books (with a third to follow this spring) and launched VaynerMedia four years ago. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out his keynote from the 2011 Inc. 500 Seminar, which highlights what he has termed the “Thank You Economy” (embedded below).

Having built a successful business and being well-known for his innovative social media practices, I thought that Gary could bring some insight to the topic of social media and B2B marketing. Read on for his (frank) opinions. The responses are edited for clarity.

How do you address B2B companies who feel that social media is only effective for B2C companies?

GV: To me, behind every “B” or “C,” there’s still a human being who makes the decision. So, all of the sudden social media becomes more interesting to use as a consumer insight data collection than as a “push” method. I think that there’s a lot of value in B2Bs using social media – going to LinkedIn, finding people’s Twitter accounts, following them and understanding what their interests are or what they may be looking for, and getting that insight into what they’re saying to the world. This becomes the way you play it, more so than just putting out content on your Facebook page. Social media has the structure to pull people, and I think that matters in B2B, maybe even more so than B2C.

Social media can take a great deal of time and effort. How do you address companies who do not have the resources or time to devote to social media?

GV: I can respect not having the resources or “time.” Well, the resources I can respect, the time I don’t. I’m just going to tell you something right now that I believe to be true: I firmly believe that all of the people that say that can sleep one hour less. If they took that hour and actually put it into engaging, producing content ,and conversing with the actual people that buy their stuff or are going to be advocates of their product, they will have a much bigger business.

We’re almost halfway through 2013. What are a few aspects of social media that have stood out for you so far this year and what are some areas that you are most excited to watch the rest of 2013?

GV: That’s a great question and it’s actually very timely, because I’m actually very obsessed with two platforms right now. One is called Medium and the other is called Vine. I think that both of them are very interesting and very real. I predict Vine to be an absolute monster product by Labor Day. It’s exploding in the 18-19 year old demographic and I think it’s going to age up over the next two or three years. I expect it to be a very big platform and I’m a humongous fan of it. Vine is something that I very much believe in, and I think people should be paying attention to it, especially those of you in marketing.

And then Medium to me is so fascinating. Ed Williams, the founder, is a legendary product guy. Blogger is one of the great blogging success stories, the first major platform. And then, obviously, he’s the co-founder of Twitter. Medium to me is just this perfect, gorgeous product that allows people to communication in a very interesting and different way in social media: a little bit deeper than a tweet, but not as long as a traditional blog post or article.

So those are the two platforms that a) I’m excited about and b) I’m excited to watch evolve over the second half of the year, not to mention the fact that I’m actually quite passionate and excited about the maturity of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc.

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