‘We’re Not Respecting The Rooms We’re Telling Stories In’: Gary Vaynerchuk Reveals Content Marketing’s ‘Massive Mistake’

“Our massive mistake,” said Gary Vaynerchuk, perched on a stool on stage at the Contently Brand Publishing Summit, “is viewing social networks as distribution mechanisms — places to post links and drive traffic.”

Vaynerchuk — a best-selling author and social marketing expert affectionately known as ‘Gary Vee’ — often sends the room into an uproar of laughter when he speaks. But you can tell he’s serious when he says that he doesn’t care about technology. That he’s not even really passionate about content, in and of itself. That he cares about psychology, and how people are reacting to the platforms they’re on.

“You can tell your great story,” said Vaynerchuk. “Just know where to tell it.”

To Vaynerchuck, “telling stories native to the platform” is the answer to social marketers biggest challenge: cutting through all the news and noise and actually reaching people. A girl on Pinterest does not want to read your long-form article; she would much rather see an infographic, or better yet, an item she wants to buy. Tumblr’s a good place for Ryan Gosling’s face, while Vine is better suited to Ryan Gosling’s face refusing a spoonful of cereal.

“We have a bunch of smart people in here who live in 2013 but market in 2008,” Vaynerchuk said to the crowd of marketers.

No matter your audience, the key to delivering value is knowing what platform they’re on and how to tell a story to them there. Vaynerchuk mocked a common brand-personification exercise (“She’s 29, she has 2.5 kids…”), chiding marketers who forget that, like a person, a brand can’t have just one voice for every situation. After all, When a 29-year-old mom goes to a wine bar with her girlfriends, she will inevitably speak and act differently than she would at a PTA meeting.


Gary Vaynerchuk speaks at Thursday’s Brand Publishing Summit

“I love the voice exercise,” Vaynerchuk said. “But I’ve got to do something different in Tumblr than I do in Facebook because the audience is different. If you want to win, you need to roll different. We’re in slang marketing now. You have to know the slang of the room you’re storytelling in. Otherwise you’re out. You can act really out of touch real quick.”

If you’re talking to high schoolers, you don’t have to necessarily know the latest definitions on Urban Dictionary. But you do have to know that they’re on Instagram and Vine and that they want to laugh. If you don’t, you risk turning consumers off. “We’re not respecting the rooms we’re telling stories in,” Vaynerchuk said.

Simply staying out of those rooms doesn’t work, either. “If you’re not putting out relevant content in relevant places,” said Vaynerchuk, “you don’t exist.”

Ultimately, It’s not just about getting the relevancy and context right with your content; quality matters, too. And if the quality is exceptional, that content will spread. “For the first time ever, the quality of the content is the distribution,” said Vaynerchuk.

Combine the right context with quality content, and you get the holy grail of social marketing. “Context plus content,” said Vaynerchuk, “equals relationships.”

Gary Vaynerchuk’s (@garyvee) Keynote Address On Content, Context, Giving, and Asking. #bpsummit #jjjrh

Gary Vaynerchuk’s (@garyvee) Keynote Address On Content, Context, Giving, and Asking. #bpsummit #jjjrh

Gary Vaynerchuk’s (@garyvee) Keynote Address On Content, Context, Giving, and Asking. #bpsummit #jjjrh

Gary Vaynerchuk’s (@garyvee) Keynote Address On Content, Context, Giving, and Asking. #bpsummit #jjjrh

Gary Vaynerchuk’s (@garyvee) Keynote Address On Content, Context, Giving, and Asking. #bpsummit #jjjrh


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