My interview with Social Media guru Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk built his wine business using Twitter and now is CEO of his on social media consulting firm.

Gary Vaynerchuk built his wine business using Twitter and is now CEO of his own social media consulting firm as well.

Earlier today I took Gary Vanerchuk up on an offer he made to his almost one million twitter followers that he was doing an interview a day.

On January 1st of this year Gary made an offer many will not be able to refuse, including me.

On January 1st of this year Gary made an offer many will not be able to refuse, including me.

I’ve enjoyed learning from him for over a year now through his website, tweets, instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google + and his books Crush It and The Thank You Economy. Today I got to ask him a few questions that I’m working through as I try to better understanding online marketing for my company and personal branding for my own interests.

He was entirely enjoyable, completely professional, and just plain fun. Here’s the recap of our quick and helpful conversation.

Q: I’ve heard you downplay the obsession with Return on Investment (ROI) when it comes to marketing. Is there any marriage between big data with Web Analytics and relationship building with Social Media?

A: “Blending the two is essential. I like being countercultural to make a point because the obsession with the ROI on big data interferes with unseen opportunities through relationship building. Don’t just play the numbers, the human element is key, and has more ROI that you can see. The fact is, I’m a business man. I’m obsessed with the return on my investment. But ROI can’t be a guiding force for everything. I’m a marathon runner in a sprinters world. I know that doing an interview with Tech Crunch will get more traffic than your blog, but I’m thinking about 36 months from now when the right person comes across your blog. I’m thinking 10 years down the road, and I’m thinking about relationships.”

Q: In your opinion, what are the best tools to use for social media management and analytics? Is there one tool to rule them all?

A: “At VaynerMedia, we have the opportunity to use a ton of different tools that our clients are using. We are able to look at the strengths and weaknesses of each one. Nothing is so revolutionary that it is indispensable. Collecting data is a commodity. What’s more important is what you do with it. Arguing over the best tools is like arguing over the colors Picasso used to do his paintings.”

Q: What are the top 3 trends in word-of-mouth marketing you are paying attention to as potential game changers? 

A: “I don’t think it’s possible to narrow it down that far. There aren’t any trends that are too much bigger than any other one. Lots of people are doing big things, and I’m one of them. However, here are some things worth noting.

  1. Photos are a big deal. Anyone doing something with photos is getting traction.
  2. Mobile is huge, absolutely huge. The amount of content being consumed through mobile devices just can’t be ignored.
  3. There is a bubble of pretenders right now that will bust. Lots of companies are copying others and it won’t last forever.

I think the most important trend is the big picture with the social web and how it is changing. I’m a smart guy and a trendsetter, but the game changes everyday. Keeping up with that is pretty important.”

Q: What person or company is absolutely crushing it with social, and what are the best practices to learn from them?

A: “There are thousands doing it awesome. Hear me on this, I’m sure there are thousands doing an amazing job. But, I don’t focus on anyone, because I know I’m doing it right. It’s intuitive to me. I’m not trying to reinforce my strengths. I’d rather pay attention to companies like the one you work for who work with Google Analytics because that’s not something I’ve ever really delved into.”

Q: Is there any value at all to a Klout score?

“I have lots of respect for the founder, Joe Fernandez. I like his entrepreneurial drive, and I think there is something to be said for marketing to influencers. However, I haven’t taken the time to set up a Klout account. I don’t see value in it for me. It’s not a game changer. It seems like an outdated model, like something that would have been popular in the 90’s. Micro marketing is more valuable to me. I think of it like I want to focus on the foundation of what I’m building and not on the curtains.”

Q: You make a big deal about keeping your family first as you build your business. How do you do that practically?

A: “Make it the first line of your profile. Obsess over it. It’s too easy to fail at it. Make it something everyone knows is important to you. Winning with family is the most important thing. Be intentional about it.”

Gary, thanks a ton for caring enough to email back and forth all day to lock a time in for a chat on a Saturday. I wish you the best, and I’m looking forward to learning from you this year.

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