“The ROI of my mother is everything,” said Gary Vaynerchuk at the 2011 Inc. 500 | 5000 Conference in Washington, D.C. “She raised me perfectly and gave me the confidence to do what I’ve done. I can’t show you in data the ROI of my mother. But I promise you it’s all of it.”
It’s the same with social media, he explained in a trailblazing keynote speech.
“When I hear people debate the ROI of social media it makes me remember why so many businesses fail,” Vaynerchuk said. “Most businesses are not doing a marathon. They’re doing a sprint. Social media marketing is long-term. It’s not a one-night stand. Most people in social media are acting like a 19-year-old. They’re trying to close on the first transaction.”
When businesses first started exploring the Internet, they didn’t see immediate monetization either. Now, it’s unimaginable to stay offline. E-commerce has taken off. Customers got over their fear of inputting their credit card numbers into a computer. Social-media marketing’s monetization will come, too, he says. “People don’t want to embrace culture shifts because [monetization is] not going to happen in the next 20 minutes.”
For the last 150 years, marketing has been “push”… radio, print, outdoor media, banner ads, email, direct mail and television. If you wanted to be a player, you had to be a quarterback – you threw the ball, and whoever told their story best, in the right platform, won. But today, for the first time in our history, it’s “pull”. Customers actually have a voice. This gives companies the opportunity to take themselves from a non-human element to a human element. Vaynerchuk calls it the humanization of logos.
“Look at the pet dog,” he said. “In the 50s, Spot spent most of his time outside. Now, Spot’s inside. But he doesn’t only live inside; he lives in your bedroom. Spot actually wears better clothes than you do and eats better food. You don’t even let your kids in your bedroom and Spot sleeps on your bed. That is what’s happening with data. We have humanized Spot. Engage on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t use your Facebook page as a press release or another newsletter.”
In the old days, business was built on small town rules. When you walked into your butcher shop, your butcher was already cutting your roast beef because he knew what you wanted. We are replicating the small town rules with social media.
It’s not just about content. Vaynerchuk says the word that is the single most important to every company is “context”. He wasn’t able to grow his business simply because he was putting out good content, but because everyday after producing 30 minutes of wine television, he spent “15 hours a day” answering every single person’s email and Twitter @ reply, creating context and relationships with each end-user. These are the people that put the cash in your wallet.
It is a branding race, he says, but most of all it’s context race. It’s not about how many fans or followers you have; it’s about how many are going to buy from you. Stop worrying about acquiring and start working on retention. Toward that end, he has also created a Thank You Department solely dedicated to placing thank you calls to first-time customers. No upselling; no selling at all. He calls it playing offense versus defense.
“Retention is the game. Lifetime value is the game. And there’s only one way to do it: humans. It’s crazy. The human being is where it’s at. You can’t outsource it. You can’t automate real feelings.”