In his book Crush It: Why Now is the Time to Cash in On Your Passion, Gary Vaynerchuk gives a strong pep talk about why your job should have something to do with what you truly love, and why you should leave that job if it doesn’t. His main argument is that in the current state of the online world, if you make content about anything you are strongly passionate about, it will attract other people, and therefore money. To prove this point, he shares his own story of how he went from working in his immigrant father’s liquor store to running a multi-million dollar business, and how social media and adaptability helped this happen. In other words, then, he explains that with passion and a willingness to adapt to change, social media has created an environment where almost anyone could make money.
Given the subject matter of ‘anyone can be successful,’ this book seems to be written for a general audience of people who may not be happy with their jobs, or even if they are, are looking for some kind of change in their life. Because of this, Crush It never goes into any specifics of a social media plan, and even mentions that you should not “…put on an act to try to imitate me or anyone else who’s had some success with social marketing. You will lose because people can sniff out a poser from a mile away” (42). This single sentence, in fact, is the basis for everything else that Vaynerchuk talks about in the book. Aside from your passion and the business need for adaptability, authenticity is the most important quality in the social media space, he says.
Part of being successful at promoting whatever kind of brand you may have on social media, he says, is understanding that sites like Twitter and Facebook are more about establishing relationships with your customers, fans, and followers than selling anything in particular. He points to his own use of Twitter, where he says, “Can you imagine how obnoxious I’d look if I sent out tweets every day urging that call to action? Instead, I use the other tools in my toolbox to bring viewers back to my blog, where I knock their socks off with my content, which inspires them to hit the “Buy My Book” call-to-action button and convert a blog visit into a chance to further build my brand and my revenue” (68). In other words, there is a time and a place to make a hard sell for things, but if you do this all the time on social media, people will feel the ‘phoniness’ of it, and most likely be less inclined to buy something from you, or even worse, might stop following you in the first place.
Vaynerchuk is not alone in discussing this issue of online authenticity. Because of the virtual nature of the online world, authenticity is a factor that cannot be ignored in any discussion of social media. In fact, Marwick and boyd mention a similar balance to what Vaynerchuk is explaining, as they write, “For Twitter users trying to build audience, personal authenticity and audience expectations must be balanced. To appeal to broad audiences, some popular Twitter users maintained that they had to continually monitor and meet the expectations of their followers.” (126). In other words, the rules of balancing different types of messages online is not only a business concern, but holds true for social media use in general.
While Vaynerchuck’s messages certainly do hold true in many degrees, I think the idea that simply being authentic on social network sites and creating content about something you love will not necessarily lead you to success. Someone could be extremely passionate about cooking and film themselves baking cakes in an authentic, unedited way, but if they do not offer anything particularly interesting, people are not going to be drawn to them. Vaynerchuck mentions that you have to offer something unique and different from everyone else, but I think with that comes both the fact that it must be interesting and you have to have some knowledge of how to promote it aside from just setting up a Twitter account and tweeting.
Overall, I’d say the book is a good jumping point for anyone who is just getting started with what could be the scary land of social media, as it certainly points out some good pro-tips that people just starting out might not realize. This, along with the amount of excitement the book instills, could definitely get someone who hates their current job motivated to try something new, but I think a little more detail about what to do once you’re online would make a great supplement to Crush It.