Crush It Review Rough Draft

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.

Crush It! Rough Draft

           Crush It! Why Now Is The Time To Cash In On Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuck is “meant” to discuss different strategies and secrets to turn your “real interests into real businesses.”  But in all actuality, this novel is more in the realm of motivational self-help books.

Gary Vaynerchuck transformed his family’s small wine store into a national industry.  He talks about how from a young age he was a businessman through buying and selling baseball cards to make a profit.  He has now built his own brand through developing a video blog called Wine Library TV.  Taking off from this small childhood pastime, Gary realized the steps he needed to take to make a name for himself in the business world…and that was through social media.  He states that the three rules to live by when creating your own business are to “love your family”, “work superhard”, and “live your passion”.  He measures his success by how happy he is, which in essence everyone should do.

There is no real format or structure to this book.  Ninety percent of this book is discussing how you need to be passionate if you want to be successful.  Besides this, Gary goes into the various social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and WordPress, among others.  He discusses the different affordances of each network and how to decide which one is right for you to create your business.  Next, Gary goes into the importance of developing your personal brand.  Through building you brand, Gary discusses how authenticity is paramount.  It is important to be yourself and voice your opinions.  He says “You’ll crush it as long as you concentrate on being yourself” (Vaynerchuck, 34).   He feels that your brand will be unique because you are unique.  This relates to our own class reading and discussion about how Liu identifies four different taste statements, authenticity being one of them.  In Liu’s reading we learn that authenticity is when the user is trying to communicate who they really are, everything that is said is true.  I tend to agree with Gary, especially if you are trying to start your own business (personally I feel this was the best piece of advice he gave).  If I were the consumer, I would want to purchase something from a person who is telling me the truth.  It is important to trust the business; otherwise the company would be reaping the benefits while you are left unsatisfied.  Through word of mouth, your business receives the reputation of being dishonest, therefore making people not want to buy whatever service or good you are offering.

Throughout the semester, we have talked about how community is formed through the various social media networks.  Baym discusses in her book the difference qualities of communities in social media: sense of space, shared practice, shared resources and support, shared identities, and interpersonal relationships.  Gary talks about how to form a community in order for your business to benefit.  He says “Creating community—that’s where the bulk of your hustle is going to go and where the bulk of your success will be determined” (Vaynerchuck, 96).  In order to do this, he stresses the need to communicate with others through social media.  According to Gary, you need to read hundreds of blog posts, leave many comments, tweet, email, share links, post your own blog posts, record videos, and much more.  By doing this, you are creating awareness amongst the community of social media, which will create publicity for your business.

He takes a very social constructionist approach when writing this book.  I do feel Gary does give some insights as to how to communicate and build your brand.  However, he does not provide as much information on how to actually monetize your business.  Yes, he does talk about building awareness, which leads to attracting advertisers…but he doesn’t going into that much detail of how to get in contact with these advertisers or what normal protocol is.  Gary gives very broad generalizations of how to build your own business, and how to be passionate (PASSION, PASSION, PASSION), but there are no solid technical instructions of how to market your brand on social media.

Crush It! rough draft

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.

The Presentation of “Dangers” of Relationships Mediated by Online Dating

Online dating conman 'left me hurt and violated'

Online dating conman 'left me hurt and violated'

In response to this week’s prompt, I examined a recently published BBC News article titled “Online dating conman ‘left me hurt and violated’.” The article outlines the latest in Internet scams, the latest being a 59-year-old woman – Vicky Fowkes – who signed up for an online dating website, and fell in love with a man who didn’t exist, or rather, a man whose actual persona did not exist. It is to say that Fowkes fell for a scam in which she was emotionally captivated by someone who then proceeded to swindle her out of nearly £40 000. The culpable man has yet to be caught and the money has yet to be recovered.

The question of framing most certainly comes into play with this article. Where Fowkes is positioned as victim in this series of unfortunate events, one could just as easily point out her faults of not having better implemented uncertainty reduction theory strategies, which include passive, active, and interactive, before becoming both emotionally and financially involved. Granted, there were mentions of telephone calls; however, it is also duly noted that there were no records of photographs exchanged or any instances of face-to-face communication (FtF). For this particular case, the FtF (given that the man was based in Africa) could have been mediated/facilitated/substituted by Skype (acknowledging that it is an in-between medium comprising of both FtF and computer-mediated communication [CmC]).

With regard to the article’s presentation, I feel that it most certainly could have been presented with a much more critical lens, asking questions as to why Fowkes was so ready to provide financial aid without engaging in strategies that would minimize her loss and guarantee authenticity, as well as asking questions of how deceptive this scammer must have been. American academic Nancy Baym outlines in her book, Personal Connections in the Digital Age (2010) the possible ways in which men and women are able to draw more inferences out of the one another’s small cues than they would in a usual FtF encounter. These small cues may be a number of things, ranging from a single photograph to a short self-summary or even to the grammar/language in messages. Thus, for Fowkes to have believed such a performance, it would have to mean that “John Hawkins,” as the man referred to himself in conversations with Fowkes, most certainly managed to play to the “right” cues so as to make himself convincing in CmC. Of course, we come back to the question as to why Fowkes was so ready to provide financial aid without furthering her uncertainty reduction by means of crossing FtF and CmC – a question that leaves unanswered in this article.

In some ways, I find the article to be similar to “Life 2.0” in which the conflict of self-presentation and online identities comes to light. Where in “Life 2.0,” the online couple found themselves attracted to one another by the performances given off (Goffman 1959) in a virtually constructed world, Fowkes found herself attracted to a persona that was presented/performed in a bound space. The distinction between world and space, for this purpose, can be noted as the following: the “world” refers more so to the realm of graphic virtual interaction, whereas “bound space” refers to a web location/structure.

Despite the revelation of the “physical world” self of Fowkes’ “lover” being more drastic, the experiences of online dating between Fowkes and the couple in “Life 2.0” are similar in some respects. For instance, both fail to accommodate for the fact that the Internet is more conducive to selective self-presentation (Walther 2006), meaning that only certain facets of personality are conveyed in the online sphere.

However, the main point on which they greatly differ from one another is the consideration of authenticity. Granted, “authenticity” is a difficult topic to broach, especially in the realm of online dating; however, there have been several contentions made over the years. The first being that the intention of online dating is to attract a mate in the physical world; as a result, information, to some degree, finds itself closer to truths than lies (Toma & Hancock 2009, Toma & Hancock 2010). And secondly, online deception is not as rampant as some would like to believe, especially given the consideration that “lying is a daily occurrence.” (Ellison et al 2006 : 420)

That said, it is following to note the following: Fowkes’ case is one that illustrates the subversion of the norm, and the relationship in “Life 2.0” merely illustrates one of the many “goals” of that virtual world of Second Life. In effect, the two platforms have different goals, and we are merely examining the commonality of “dating” between these two platforms for the purposes of this post.

So, the question to ask is how do the two stories differ from one another in their presentation? The answer, first and foremost, comes back to the goals of the two platforms. Second Life is viewed as an open-ended system in which the interactions do not have the end-goal of being romantic, though it is a possibility. As a result, the documentary explains the root of the “love” of the couple and follows them so as to track this “peculiar” development within the virtual world. However, given that online dating’s goal is to assist in the finding of a mate for the physical world, the story is framed in such a manner that exposes, as opposes to follow. Since the nature of the story is one of subversion of the norm, as opposed to “peculiarity/possibility in a virtual world of many facets,” the BBC article immediately paints a darker picture.

What we come to realize and ask ourselves is the following – must all relationships be verified by some sort of FtF, even if it must be mediated? And if the answer is yes, the next question to pose is the following: are we always bound by FtF if there are ways to subvert the intentions of new CmC platforms?