How to sell your story in a noisy social world

By Gary Vaynerchuk

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is a blueprint to social media marketing strategies that really work.

The punchy title of this New York Times bestseller suggests you are a fighter in the ring – where your mission is to connect with your audience and crush your competition.

To do this, you need a marketing strategy that not only engages but also converts. But in a world full of white noise, how do you push through the haze to get noticed in the realm of social media?

Marketing managers often conspire to land that power knock-out right hook straight where it hurts. To take down your opponent and weaken your customer’s resistance with one winning blow. Except when your rival keeps dodging and weaving. And the rules keep changing. Then you need a new tactic. You have to change the way you fight.

What you should aim for, instead, is the right combination of jabs and hooks perfectly adapted to specific social media platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr. You want to tailor-design your content for the right context. It’s much more effective than the one-swing approach.

Vaynerchuk cleverly divides his chapters into ‘rounds’, starting with Round 1:

The Set Up

Social media is everywhere. It’s no longer reserved solely for a handful of youthful tech pioneers. It has found its way into the lives of young and old – from schools to the workplace, even into the most conservative of nursing homes.

These days, almost everyone has a smartphone or tablet, and social networking and communication sites rank as some of the most widely-used given how portable and easily accessible they are. People are regularly checking their Facebook or Twitter accounts to chat with friends, to scan the news, to see what’s generally going. It has become a worldwide addiction.

So, it’s no wonder marketing gurus are using social media platforms to place their wares directly under the nose of their target reader. It is the inevitable evolution of marketing. Where digital once took over from print, social is overtaking it all.

Consumers don’t respond to old school advertising anymore. Grabbing their attention takes a whole lot more than a 30 second TV commercial. Therefore, it makes sense to use a forum that is already diverting their attention.

Social is where it’s at, and people want to be engaged. The problem is, a lot of businesses are only just catching on. And although they may finally have a Facebook or Instagram account, they’re not using it properly. They have not yet fully grasped that every single effort to advertise their brand must have a social element, a chance for the audience to interact. It’s no longer a one-sided boxing match. And to get them to engage, they need to be able to tell a great story.

Round 2:

The Characteristics of Great Content and Compelling Stories

Social media has opened up a whole new world of communication. Everyone has a voice.

But with everyone talking at the same time, it’s tough to follow any one particular conversation. Most people tend to tune out to most things.

Thus, it has become increasingly difficult for businesses to cut through the white noise and get noticed.

Regular content alone no longer cuts it, especially when it’s just banal ramblings for the sake of frequency. The quantity of social media posts needs to be matched equally with the quality of content. It needs to stand out.

Outstanding content can generally be identified because it adheres to the following 6 rules:

1. It’s native

Each social media platform is designed to support certain forms of content. The type of audience each attracts, therefore, will also vary.

For example, Instagram and Pinterest are highly visual and are aimed at stay at home mums or craft-crazy DIY types, whereas the animated GIFs rolling around on Tumblr tend to attract the artsy crowd.

To truly shine, a company needs to ensure they place their content on the right platform which best supports what they are posting. Too often, this is not the case and is the downfall of many marketing efforts.

2. It doesn’t interrupt

Marketing content such as advertisements should be noticeable and memorable, without being a nuisance.

There is a fine line between a TV commercial getting stuck in your head because you love it and can’t wait to try the product; and becoming an earworm just because you heard it a thousand times when trying to watch the big game.

People have no patience for intrusion anymore, and good marketers know this.

If you want to talk to people while they consume their entertainment, you have to be their entertainment.

Whatever experience people are seeking on their preferred platforms, that’s what marketers should attempt to replicate.

3. It doesn’t make demands often

Vaynerchuk gives us a better understanding here of the difference between a right hook and a jab.

Right hooks represent what is valuable to you as the business – getting the sale, getting the people in the door. It’s when you’re asking for something from the consumer – but you don’t want to be doing this too often.

Jabs, on the other hand, are about what’s valuable to the consumer. They possess all the characteristics we enjoy in other human beings – generosity, information, humour, and inspiration. They’re what you give to your customer on a regular basis.

You want to ensure your content remains simple, memorable, inviting and fun.

Your strategy should be: jab, jab, jab, jab, jab … right hook!

Or: give, give, give, give, give … ask.

4. It leverages pop culture

Generations are defined by their pop culture, and without it, they feel lost.

Once upon a time, marketers could advertise a product or service without much ado – stick a sign up in a window, and it would make an impact. But these days, with the onslaught of digital technology, it’s almost impossible to get anyone’s attention.

So, rather than trying to compete with all the noise, why not join in?

Stay current and entice your fans by using what’s in fashion – the music they like, the celebrities they read about, the issues that matter to them. By interlacing your marketing content with the consumer’s world, you are more likely to get noticed without even trying.

5. It’s micro

Rather than thinking about your content as content, and bombarding your audience with tedious chunks of marketing text, think about it as tiny, relevant nuggets of everyday contributions that inform and inspire.

There is an opportunity at almost every turn to insert a one-liner or humorous meme that relates to current events. It should appear casual and natural. And, if executed properly, it should stir something in people, no matter how trivial.

The trick is – you want to be ready and able to respond in real time, taking full advantage of the events around you.

6. It’s consistent and self-aware

Every post, tweet, comment, like or share is an opportunity to confirm your business’s identity. With each micro-contribution, you must consistently answer the question “Who are we?”

The personality and brand identity of your business must remain constant and consistent.

Each micro-post adapts according to the circumstances and the whims of your audience, without sacrificing who you are.

Following on …

In the succeeding chapters, the author takes you through specific and detailed strategies for each platform – Round 3: Storytell on Facebook, Round 4: Listen well on Twitter, Round 5: Glam it up on Pinterest, Round 6: Create art on Instagram, and Round 7: Get animated on Tumblr.

Then in Round 8, he delves into Opportunities in emerging networks – where he talks about placing content on platforms that aren’t particularly social like LinkedIn, Google+, Vine, and Snapchat.

From here, Vaynerchuk enforces the need to put in intense, consistent, and committed effort for the ultimate marketing success. He also draws attention to long-form content and its place in the marketing world.

And in conclusion, he acknowledges that the social media ring can be somewhat daunting – but by taking the time and effort to familiarise yourself with it, the complexities won’t seem as overwhelming. And if you get it right, the pay-off for your investment will be worth it.

In the ever-changing and evolving sphere of marketing, there is a need to move fast enough to keep up. And the sooner you figure out the next new thing, the sooner you’ll get ahead.

In the end – you want to be the winner.