Saturday, August 20, 2011


Social media isn't a platform, it's a culture.

So says Gary Vaynerchuk in "The Thank You Economy", which dives headfirst into the realm of social media and its game-changing effects on how businesses engage consumers in today's market.

In Vaynerchuk's view, everything old is becoming new again.

In the old days, word of mouth meant everything.  If you had a bad experience at the corner store, you told your friends and neighbors, and the impact of lost goodwill on the store was immediate.

Then, from about 1970 to 2000, corporations took over the world.  Businesses were gobbled up by larger competitors, communication became "one way" and the customer lost all power.  But since 2000, social media has changed the game again.

Today, the consumer is once again empowered through sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Trip Advisor.  Businesses have to care what people think, because the Internet is for consumers what the printing press was for writers - a platform for leveraging their thoughts and ideas into something far more powerful than had been the case when communication was merely a one-to-one proposition.

Social media is a brand-equity building machine, according to Vaynerchuk, while SEO is a fad.  Search Engine Optimization provides exposure, but it does not build relationships, and relationship selling is the power tool of the 21st Century.  Social media can be used to build an emotional bond between retailer and customer, between service provider and end-user. 

I have seen the power of social media firsthand over the past three years, and it has allowed me to leverage my thoughts and build my personal brand with over 300 "friends" on Facebook while connecting with hundreds of others on Twitter and YouTube. 

But the key is to remember that, as Vaynerchuk says, social media is not a platform - it's a culture.  It's not me with a bullhorn; rather, it's me looking to connect, create value, be an authority and most of all, remain available to the hundreds of clients I have worked with through the years.

I'll close this post with my favorite quote from the book:  "If you think everything in your business is fine, it means you have stopped caring."

My goal is to continue to grow not just my sales, but my value to others.  I am continually working on ways to do a better job, be more efficient, incorporate more technology, leverage my personal brand and help my clients get what they want. 

When you master those skills, you will master the market, no matter what that market looks like.  Because value is a quality that transcends markets, and if you can create it, the market will come to you.