The future of media according to Gary Vaynerchuk
The quintessential social media businessman - known for hosting his online show 'The Ask GaryVee Show' as well as his own vlog on YouTube - talks the future of social media, personal branding and why the world of media is moving into audio.
February 2, 10:30pm. On the phone from New York City, USA
Hey Gary, we know you’re constantly moving about, so it’s good to get you on the phone for a few minutes.
Yup, no problem. But let’s rock and roll, I got a flight to catch and you should probably go to sleep. It’s late in Dubai, right?
That it is. A nice easy starter: What’s the secret to your success? Or in other words, what do you have that others do not?
I don’t think I have anything that others do not, but I do think that I have good natural intuiting and a solid understanding of human behaviour. I think that I understand consumer behaviour, especially when it comes to where it’s going on the internet. I think that I am running a marathon, so I am extremely patient, which I feel is a huge factor in the things that I have done. And I think my work ethic underlies all of that, my actions match my ambitions. I think it is more important to learn and fail than to always be right. I think those are some of the core ingredients that really help me.
So speaking of attention on the internet, where is the world of online media going?
Well, I think our screens are eating up more and more attention time. I don’t think you can be in the world of marketing – either personally through your online brand or for a business – without creating relevant content for the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. To not be relevant on those platforms is really just a very poor and detrimental strategy.
Back in the day, kids used to want to be movie stars or astronauts. Now it seems everyone wants to be on YouTube or an influencer. Why do you think that is?
I think kids have always wanted to be famous. I think fame is something that has attracted young people for all eternity. Astronauts and rock stars used to be the epitome of that, but now it’s the people big on YouTube and Instagram because that’s what’s most accessible to young people.
But it’s just a fad, right?
I don’t think so. In 1996 everyone laughed at me and said the internet was just a fad. They were proven historically incorrect.
What do you say to all the doubters?
I don’t really say anything. But I am fascinated by people’s naiveté and their inability to recognize that change is inevitable.
So what about bigger brands? In the luxury space, the likes of Rolex and Patek Philippe are relatively new to say, something like Instagram.
I am absolutely stunned by some brand’s inability to understand social media. I mean, look at some people’s Instagram accounts that have millions and millions of eyeballs on them every minute of every day. Why wouldn’t you want to put your product in that environment?
I get that some people like to romanticize their business, and want to continue doing business the same way for years and years. However, the entire luxury market is currently playing out on Instagram for the 15-40 year-old-demographic. It’s that simple.
Some people enjoy having their heads in the sand.
Exactly. But a part of that is a lack of education. People don’t understand that US$14 million townhouses are being sold off the back of Instagram. They don’t realize that US$100,000 worth of cosmetics are sold each day purely on social media. And you know, embracing that and potentially having to completely change your business model is hard. However, fighting technological advances like this has never worked out for anyone.
The printing press changed the game when it came to knowledge. This is the same thing but in the digital realm.
Yup and that theme repeats itself so much through history. People made fun of HBO and cable television back in the day, then they made fun of the internet. I mean, these are all laughable things to us now, but not back then.
You have a new book out – congratulations on that by the way – where you really delve into personal branding on the back of creating content. But how do you respond to people who say, “That’s great for you, Gary. You have a team of people around you constantly creating content”.
I simply remind them that I did it all by myself for the first eight years. It’s only recently that I allowed other people to help create my content, and that was mainly on the back of wanting to scale it up.
So let’s say that you work in an unsexy industry. Waste disposal, for example. Should you still be concentrating on personal branding? Do you need a vlog?
I don’t think everyone needs to build a personal brand, but if you are comfortable putting yourself out there, and if you are good at writing, or talking or have a talent for video, then it will definitely help. I think the impact of a personal brand on a business is quite high in today’s world. It’s a really simply arithmetic – once you get people’s attention you can upsell them your business.
And you’d be a good example of that, correct?
It’s hard to measure the exact impact, but over the last eight years I have been putting myself out there, as you mentioned, on the vlog, my show, the podcasts, social media, everywhere. Now, that translates not just in fans and followers, but in my books selling better than the one before it, that my company gets more inbound business requests on a daily basis, on an uptick in speaking engagements. There’s no way to directly correlate it, but it certainly helps.
So this book – Crushing It! – is the follow-up to your first book, Crush It! What’s changed? Is it just a rehash of the old one to include social media?
In a way, it is an update of the first book. I explain the opportunity as well as the platforms that people should be taking seriously. But we are nine years on from the first book, so there is loads more. We have examples, from people who read the first book and went on to build something amazing.
What about the future? Augmented reality and the like? Are we all going to be walking around in headsets in the future?
I think that voice is on the verge of going mass market. I would say in the next 24 months it is going to be huge, but in a way it already is. I am not so much talking just about podcasts, but audio in general. The way you ask Alexa for recipes, for music recommendations, even to buy stuff for you.