Gary Vaynerchuk speaks from his experiences throughout his how-to guide on creating your own personal brand in Crush It!. Gary’s purpose throughout this book is to guide everyday social media users on how to take the creative concepts they have and turn them into successful and very realistic business entrepreneurships. The audience he’s speaking to is thus not necessarily very tech-savvy individuals, but more so average people interacting with the media around them. However, he makes it clear that the only type of people who will attain successful results from Crush It! are those who have a passion to turn their dreams into their real lives, even if they have some reservations about how to get there. Without passion, he says, you have nothing (Vaynerchuk 8).
Gary doesn’t specify what types of personal brands users may want to establish because he has the same business model for all types of people. The entire book revolves around this idea of passion – everything he mentions relates back to the importance of individuals taking advantage of the best marketing strategy there is out there: caring (Vaynerchuk 90). He breaks the book up into a number of sections, including the importance of family, utilizing social media, monetizing your brand, maintaining authenticity, and leaving a legacy behind (which is more important that gaining monetary capital). Yet all these bits and pieces tie into one overarching theme: passion can get you anywhere.
While I can’t say I completely agree with Vaynerchuk that passion is all you need for success (I mean come on, this guy is a little too optimistic to think money means nothing!), Crush It! was certainly an interesting take on how the average person can really turn themselves into an entrepreneur with no past business endeavors. This being said, it’s clear that Gary believes in the social construction of technology as a discourse; he believes that the technology users create responds directly to their already existing social influences. The idea and creativity that those trying to create their own brand have didn’t come from the technology, but rather social media is a tool that can be utilized to expand and develop that brand. Your creativity and passion is what gets the ball rolling and the technology is just there to speed things up (Vaynerchuk 21).
Vaynerchuk also makes it clear that it’s important to not only be true to your clientele and brand, but also (and more importantly) to yourself (Vaynerchuk 33). He stresses the importance of maintaining authenticity when monetizing and marketing your brand (Vaynerchuk 73). The worst thing you can do is lose sight of your original goals; that’s when you lose passion and stray away from your true intentions of being happy (Vaynerchuk 10). That is when you let the currency get ahead of you, and it’s clear that Vaynerchuk believes it’s more important to leave a legacy of yourself behind than make money and lose your enthusiasm (Vaynerchuk 110).
This is very reflective of a number of concepts we’ve discussed throughout the course. His ideals about authenticity very accurately reflect different types of taste within social media that Bourdieu analyzes. If you’re the type to have an “authentic” profile on social media, you are presenting your true self to an audience, suggesting you are trustworthy and reliable. These are foundational concepts in Crush It!, as Vaynerchuk believes you can’t maintain a successful brand without being true to yourself and your customers. This might mean that those who identify with other types of taste, such as “prestige” where users feel a need to identify their tastes in relation to a certain type of hierarchy, may not be able to receive the same results from Crush It! as to those who would construct a more “authentic” social media profile like Gary Vaynerchuk.
Somewhat along the same lines, the author discusses the importance of marketing and branding yourself through the creation of a community. He makes note that sometimes creating the content is a lot easier than creating the community because you want to get users hooked and not lose them after one glance (Vaynerchuk 86). This all relates back to having passion and a vision: you need to create an environment, a practice, and an identity that users will trust and build a relationship with despite the fact that this will all be through social media. This very much relates to ideas and problems of community within online spaces in general.
Baym discusses how it was once assumed community would disappear with the coming of the Internet. However, this isn’t true – there are just different ways of communication online. These ways are through a sense of space, shared practice, shared resources and support, shared identities, and interpersonal relationships. These are the exact same types of necessary components of building your own online brand that Vaynerchuk discusses in Crush It! Both authors note the problem with maintaining a sense of community in an online world, but make it clear that while it may be a bit more difficult there is certainly something to gain from this, such as Ellison’s concept of social capital.