Book Review for “Crush It!” by Gary Vaynerchuck (Rough Draft)

Summary

In his book, Crush It!, Gary Vaynerchuk aims to give his readers advice on how to make the most money by living your passion. Vaynerchuk gives his readers three rules to live by: 1) Love your family 2) Work superhard and 3) Live your passion. While the first two rules appear throughout the book, the third rule drives the message Vaynerchuk sends to his readers. Vaynerchuk uses his own life story as a framework for the book. His story begins when family immigrated to the U.S. from the U.S.S.R. when he was a small child and follows his rise to internet celebrity through his work as a vlogger for his father’s wine shop in Springfield, NJ. He weaves his golden rules for modern internet success with his career. First and foremost, Vaynerchuk urges readers to live their passion. If they don’t plan on doing that, they shouldn’t bother reading the rest of the book. He stresses that anyone can be successful, no matter how weird or obscure their passion is, especially with today’s easy access to so many various social media platforms. According to Vaynerchuk, people simply need to define their passion, create their brand, and get to work spreading their message around the social media sphere. Vaynerchuk wants his readers to live their passion, and help spread their message through the social media tools available to them. As long as they love what they’re doing, anyone can be successful.

Audience

Gary Vaynerchuk writes to a very broad audience. His audience consists of anyone who has a passion that they are not pursuing, and are looking to fulfill their dream of doing what they love for a living. Because Vaynerchuk stresses passion over everything else, it seems as though his ideal audience could be of almost any age range. However, his ideal audience members must have passions and ideas about those passions yet think they can’t be successful by pursuing those passsions. The book was written for the average joe. The language is simple, making it a very easy read. Anyone can read Vaynerchuk’s book and have an idea of whether or not they have what it takes to pursue their passion. In addition, this is a very American story, told by someone who has truly lived the American dream. Because of this, American readers would connect more deeply with the story that Vaynerchuk tells in comparison to readers from other countries.

Group Points

Vaynerchuk takes a social constructionist approach in this book.

  • we do the same things as before, just via a different method (social media)
  • social media hasn’t changed what we do, but helped us do things more efficiently
  • the technology is useless if we don’t use it effectively (or at all for that matter)

Ethical implications of social media marketing

  • Authenticity:
  • Vaynerchuk emphasizes authenticity as key to your online/professional brand
  • Authenticity MUST be maintained when marketing your brand and dealing with advertisers
  • Issues of privacy settings can lead to personal and professional brand discrepencies

Create a community

  • have to have passion to keep readers
  • have to create an identity that users trust (authenticity) and be someone that they want to revisit again and again

Critiques

  • I wouldn’t categorize this as a social media marketing book, more of a motivational book. This seems like a book that someone would read, be motivated to pursue their dreams, and then go search out other how-to books on social media marketing to realize their dreams.
  • I would have liked to see more on how to apply social media marketing strategies
  • All about passion. While I understand that passion is necessary to be truly successful, there are a number of other important factors and actions that need to be taken. What does Vaynerchuk think those are?
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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.

So you want to be the next Oprah?

As the “Social Media Sommelier”, Gary Vaynerchuk was able to take his passion for wine and turn it into a trans-media business. He shares some helpful advice, along with clever anecdotes to really get you motivated to Crush It!. Subtitled, “Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion”, Vaynerchuk reveals his three secrets to success: “Love your family. Work superhard. Live your passion”. Throughout his book, he uses his power of motivation and enthusiasm to truly inspire his reader. But where does social media come in? He demonstrates how someone can take their offline interests and convert that into a mediated business all while establishing a personal brand.

Recognizing the domestication of social media, as it has become a “second home for most Americans”, Vaynerchuk teaches us how “to navigate the digital waters of social marketing to build a business and promote a person brand based around what you love most”. Now, he does not provide a technologically in-depth formula for creating and maintaining an online brand, but rather shows the avenues one needs to take and ways in which one can begin to establish an online presence based around their passion. A cross between a motivational speech and a how-to-guide, “Crush It!” gives you the hope as well as a roadmap on how to begin this new journey into your passion.

Vaynerchuk emphasizes the power in genetics. In order to create a successful brand online, one must rely on their own biological make-up and embrace who they are. He stresses being one’s own self. The technological affordances of social media tempt us to create pseudonymous profiles and take on stock characters we think are more marketable. However, Vaynerchuk proclaims, “The most important thing to remember is to be authentic, to be yourself. That authenticity is what will give you your greatest chance of success”. Once authenticity is achieved and maintained viewers are then able to see what you stand for as a marketable individual, thus kindling your personal brand. As Vaynerchuk goes on to write, developing your personal brand is living and breathing your resume. Our online posts become conduits for our personal brand and the spreadability of such posts create a word-of-mouth effect unimaginable without social networking sites. He also says that once our personal brand is authenticated and accepted, it will lure viewers and readers to your site and essentially to you.

But how can you start to get viewers to even pass through your page? Vaynerchuk also goes into the ways of creating communities as well as its importance in having a successful networked brand. After choosing the right medium for your venture, he expresses the two ways to work your content on that medium. “The first is a lure, creating it, posting it, and allowing people to come to you as they discover it. The second is to use it as a lasso through comments on other people’s content that relates to yours, inserting yourself into existing conversations and actively creating reasons for your audience to come to you”. Capitalizing on the asynchronous nature of social media, as well as the inevitability of context collapse, you are given the opportunity to promote your knowledge and your brand on various platforms in hopes of linking new viewers to your own conversation of your passion. By joining pre-existing conversations, you build your credibility and along the way you leave posts that spark readers to click through to your own content. Vaynerchuk, however, stresses the need for your own content to capture. “If your content is smart and interesting and eye-catching and entertaining – and if you’re the best, it should be – most people who come to your [site] will be happy to become regular readers, viewers, or listeners.” This can easily be accomplished when you are living and breathing the content of your passion. He makes it clear that it is necessary to continue to learn about your subject, learn about the tools of the technology, and even learn about your competition. When you talk about your passion non-stop, someone is bound to hear you. But how long will it take?

Vaynerchuk continually keeps his reader grounded and makes us face the reality of the supposed venture we want to embark on. He declared, “Do you have any idea how many people introduce themselves to me with, ‘Hi, I’m going to be the next Oprah’? I’m all about being confident, and I respect anyone who’s got big ambition. But let’s face it, not everyone is going to be Oprah.” Now we may not be able to achieve Oprah Queendom but it is possible to get to the top of a more niche field. With the explosion of free digital and even mobile social media platforms, the everyday individual is able to take advantage and capitalize on their passion, whilst making the previous gatekeepers irrelevant. But now that everyone has access, disregarding the digital divide, how can two rivaling personal brands compete? Care. The “best marketing strategy ever” cannot just be applied as a sympathetic concern but rather with a vigorous devotion.

Gary Vaynerchuk’s life becomes a framework for the dreamer with a hidden passion. From the chapter titles alone, his message of how to get motivated and started can be gleaned. “Passion is Everything”. That passion combined with mediated platforms will help to “Build Your Personal Brand” in “A Whole New World”. When you “Create Great Content” you have to remember to “Keep It Real…Very Real”. If your personal brand and content are enticing you can start to “Create Community” by “Digging Your Internet Trench”. His final paragraph truly conveys his books message: “True success lies above all in loving your family, working hard, and living your passion. In telling your story. In authenticity, hustle, and patience. In caring fiercely about the big and the small stuff. In valuing legacy over currency. Social media is an important part of it for now, but won’t always be.” He understands the reality of our fickle society and rather than leaving us with a blue print for how to use the media of the moment he provides us with the motivation and the reminder that the power is in us to Crush It!.