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Meet Gary, Social Media Ninja

March 13, 2009

Ad Industry, Blogging, Brand Strategy, Creative, Insight, Social Media


Gary Vaynerchuk owns a wine shop in New Jersey named the Wine Library, and also happens to be a social media expert. Now, I understand that you can’t swing a dead cat on the web these days without hitting a “social media expert”, but Gary’s the real deal, i.e. he uses tools like online video and twitter to actually increase sales, seemingly the point of our efforts.

His experience captures a dilemma facing the advertising industry: For very specific brands in very specific categories, digital technology will replace a big chunk of the “traditional” advertising spend. And with a bit of courage and panache, clients can do it themselves. This quote from an article in the New York Times on Gary’s approach sums it up:

“Last December, seeking to enhance sales, he offered free shipping and promoted it three ways. Direct marketing cost $15,000 and brought in 200 new customers; a billboard cost $7,500 and won 300 new customers; and tweeting the promotion on Twitter attracted 1,800 new customers.”

Sales up, costs down, and he’s humanized the store. I’m the first person to say that for 99% of brands, apps like facebook make little sense. People don’t want to be friends with detergent. But there will be exceptions and there’s more to social media than facebook. Here’s my free advice to agencies: have a point of view, educate your clients, and experiment like crazy under your own roof. Unlike Gary, most will want a partner.

Matt Jones