This week, members of the Distribion team made the trek to Boston for the 2013 Social Media Conference for Financial Services, organized by LIMRA & LOMA.
The keynote speech was delivered by Gary Vaynerchuk, and he packed in a lot of rich content into the speech. I highly encourage all of you reading this to watch Vaynerchuk’s full speech when you have the time to do so, or in partial bits over a couple of breaks in the action of your busy days.
A single blog post will not do this subject justice, but for now, I’ll break down a couple of the meaningful quotables from the speech. Keep in mind that the parts that struck a chord with me may not be entirely the same as the parts that will strike one with you.
“Social media is the plumbing for word of mouth.” (13:27 of linked video)
That is a vivid image. Plumbing serves a very important purpose. It brings water to our sinks and showers, and water is a essential building block of life. Plumbing also helps get rid of waste. With this quote, Vaynerchuk hits on the modern question of where digital marketing starts and two distinct worldviews. One worldview is that the Internet begins with us seeking information from a central bank of data (the search engine concept). The second worldview is that the Internet begins with the opinions of those in the social space, the classic word of mouth gone digital. Social media sites bring us the information we need to know. Vaynerchuk used the example of finding new restaurants. Google (as the dominant search engine) was solely the source for finding something in the era prior to the proliferation of social media (early to mid 2000s). However, as social media has become more ingrained, it can be perceived that it has partially displaced the search engine as the undisputed source of information. Social media can be used to flush out the bad yet bring items of value to the end user, functioning in the same manner as plumbing.
“Every organization in this room is in the media business and they just don’t realize it yet” (10:38-10:42, but speech builds to this point from 5:28)
Content is king in digital marketing. Content is the central component and the lifeblood to all of your marketing activities. With media, content has always been king, even thinking about the old media model. Content is what has always driven people to watch a television show, listen a radio station or read a newspaper or magazine. Compelling content is what matters. In the Vaynerchuk speech, he urged people to create content that people care about, even if it isn’t necessarily in the area where you are selling a product or service. Some topics are juicier than others. Vaynerchuk’s example was high school football, and there’s certainly a lot of content out there about sports at all levels. There is a segment of the population that cares immensely about sports, at levels from high school to the pros. But sports are not the only topic that garners interest. Another easy example to mention is dating & relationships. There’s a lot of interest in that subject matter. Vaynerchuk’s suggestion was to build a following based on a compelling subject matter, produce much of the content to that subject matter, then feature soft sell articles about your product category from time to time in the fashion of an advertorial, a common feature in the old media paradigm. This strategy could be a hard sell in a lot of organizations, as many organizations operate from the push mentality, pushing their subject matter above all, making the most amount of noise they can about it and hoping that their content rises above the noise. Some might have a hard time seeing immediate results from the idea that Vaynerchuk suggests and the unfocused to the core business content could be seen as unproductive. The idea that Vaynerchuk suggests here is thought provoking, and he cited Guinness (Guinness Book of World Records) & Michelin (restaurant guide) producing content seemingly unrelated to their core businesses to build brand awareness and lead people down the path towards selling more product.
I’m leaving you here with what I hope is an old media tactic, leaving on a cliffhanger, wanting more. Share your thoughts below. This is a social medium after all.