Gary Vaynerchuk: The Marketing Guru on the Rise of YouTube, Social Media & His Biggest Weakness

I first discovered Gary Vaynerchuck back in 2008 when my friend shared a YouTube video recording of one of his famous talks at Web 2.0 Expo NY. I was immediately drawn into his energy, charisma and knowledge in building a successful online business.


Gary’s rise began when he recognized the importance of e-commerce and took his $3 million a year family business in 1997 and turned it into $45 million a year one by 2005. He has been featured on “The Ellen Show” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” and is a two-time New York Times best-selling author. He also currently owns a successful social media branding agency that helps brands like Pepsi, the New York Jets and Campbell’s in their social media and online branding campaigns.

Whether you are a creator who is looking to monetize your online brand or a person who is just trying to sell a product or make money online, Gary Vaynerchuk is relevant to you. Check out one of his keynotes below:

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Gary over the phone. In this exclusive interview, Gary shares his thoughts on the YouTube and online video space, why his company VaynerMedia is better than all the other social media branding agencies that are out there, and shares some advice from the book he’s currently writing, “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.”

What’s your daily schedule like nowadays? I’m assuming it’s crazy.

Yeah, these days are kind of interesting. I mean I’m spending the majority of my time running VaynerMedia which is a 250-person social media agency. It’s quite busy; we’re doing quite a bit. I’m spending less time in the wine world, a little less time speaking, but I’m still doing quite a bit of that. I’m writing my second book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook,” so I’m staying quite busy.

And so just to start off with a fun question, what’s the last great movie you saw?

Last great movie, so I would say “Django Unchained.” Saw it a couple months ago, I really liked it. Favorite Quentin movie including all the ones that get dramatically more accolades, but I really enjoyed myself so I would go with that.

What’s your favorite YouTube video of the moment?

Favorite YouTube video of the moment … so I don’t consume a lot of YouTube videos. I’m not quite sure why. Just barely trying to answer every email that I get and every engagement of Twitter. My consumption on YouTube is low, but I would say that there is a video I saw not too long ago that talked about two kids who were talking about their parents — it was only under 400 views — so somebody sent it to me and I liked it, so I would say that.

You once mentioned that one of the things you’d done to show people you cared was that you answered every single one of your emails. Obviously since then your brand and popularity have grown tremendously, so do you still have time to answer all your emails?

I don’t. I kind of unfortunately succumbed to the mass of it all. I still try very, very heavily and spend lots of time answering quite a few, but I wouldn’t be able to say let’s get back in a week that I’m able to get to all of them. I’m still very, I’d say 80 percent, so it’s still pretty incredible. Anybody who really wants to get a hold of me, that second or third email, I got pretty good memory, and you know, I tend to remember things when I see the names come through multiple times, and I’ll make sure I get to those. But at this point I’d say I’m about 80 percent, which is still pretty incredible because I’m getting thousands, two thousand a day.

Why was it so important at the time to show people you cared? Is putting forth the effort of giving micro-attention to individuals something you recommend to be successful?

Yeah, I mean I still think it’s important to me now; it just becomes literally a mathematical equation that you can’t solve, right? I don’t understand people who don’t recognize that the world is predicated on relationships and people and giving effort to another human being, whether they’re at the top of the game or at the bottom of the game. I think there are two very different kind of thought processes and outcomes for somebody who is very influential on top of the game, somebody you do business with, somebody who’s famous, whatever the case may be. That’s a very obvious reason to engage with them. But to me a lot of times the people that are climbing up the ranks, you never know where people are going to end up, where they are going to be, and I’m always willing to invest in relationships and play the marathon instead of the sprint, and so that’s why I kind of think it’s important. I don’t know, especially when you’re in a position where, you know like for me, people actually want to say hello to you or give you nice compliments or just want your attention for five seconds and it means something to them, I’m flattered — I’m so taken with gratitude I don’t know how I could under-deliver to somebody like that.

In the past you spent a lot of your time talking about your thoughts on marketing and storytelling through new media. What is your personal assessment of the exploding YouTube and online video industry at the moment?

That it’s still very early. I think as Google starts wiring the country of the USA like they’ve done in Kansas City and in Austin, Texas, as we get into more second and third and fourth screening experiences, no doubt in my mind there will be ultimate destruction in the traditional way of consuming television. Even though it’s worth a lot, we are still in the extreme early stages, the grounds are still fertile. Video consumption will always be here; it will always be something that matters, and YouTube is a clear leader, an aggressive leader in that space. And I think that it’s very obvious to me that we may not be in the national anthem of a 16-inning game but we’re still probably in the first inning of a 16-inning game right now, and I think there is a lot of upside going toward.

Do you feel that even now brands and businesses can really utilize YouTube to help brand equity and ultimately help their bottom line?

Absolutely. I mean there is such a big audience that it’s consuming, so if you figure out how to natively storytell on YouTube and figure out how to create the kind of content for your consumers that they’ll actually appreciate it, enjoy and want to watch, then it’s easily the one of the top three or four places to produce content for. I would say outside of Facebook, Twitter — I would say Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are three. Instagram and Pinterest maybe could start playing with that, but to me Facebook and YouTube are clear leaders in a place where every brand and business and individual should be very seriously thinking about creating content. Obviously the idea is a much bigger challenge to many people other than work or pictures, and so that’s why its got these unique challenges, but to me it’s the foremost platform in the world.

A lot of YouTubers have difficulty finding other ways to monetize off their audience. Many really just depend solely on Adsense and sponsored videos to gain money, but in reality there are so many other different ways they can utilize their fanbase — what’s your advice to those people that are struggling?

Well, I mean a lot of those people who are struggling are actually just not very good business people, right? So you know one of the funny things is that you could sell subscriptions, you can sell products, you can sell events, and that just comes down to how good you are as a salesperson in this business, woman or man. And so if they are really struggling and they really don’t know what to do, I recommend getting an agent or a manager, or maybe more importantly a business partner, because to me that’s like a laughable statement. There are so many ways to monetize if you’ve actually got a huge audience; you just have to know how to actually do it, and so for me that wasn’t hard for “Wine Library TV.” I sold wristbands, I sold T-shirts, I sold events. Ultimately later when I started doing “Daily Grape” I started selling subscriptions to other reviews, premium content. To just rely on advertising, it makes a lot of sense if you think about it because I think the early pioneers of video on YouTube have to be very heavily predicated on being very creative, and oftentimes there are very few individuals that cross over being both very business monetized-orientated and at the same time being creative enough to create content for those audiences, which is why usually you have a partner or somebody who really knows what they’re doing in that part.

And I think that from my experience too I feel that most people actually struggle building an audience aside from the monetization, so it’s actually a very interesting problem to have.

Yeah, I mean the problem with “Oh woe is me, I have so many people who give a crap about my work and I don’t know how to make money on them,” that’s an easy problem. The first problem is getting people to care about your work is a much heavier and difficult climb.

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