6 Takeaways From “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook”

A short list of social marketing insight from Gary Vaynerchuk’s latest book


One week ago I received my copy of Gary Vaynerchuk’s Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook from Amazon. The book is aptly subtitled “How to tell your story in a noisy social world” and clearly explains how brands (and individuals) can cut through the clutter on social media with creative and powerful content.

After finishing the book today I knew I wanted to blog about some of the things I learned and the new thoughts and ideas it inspired in me. So I sat down and decided to write a list of some of the most important things I got from it that I could share in a post like this one. I meant to only write down 10 or so lessons, but before I knew it, my list quickly grew to more than forty. JJJRH is just full of powerful insight that is easy to digest and simple to understand for marketers at any level. Over time, I’ll probably end up writing a fair amount about it all, but in this post I’ll share just 6 takeaways I had upon finishing JJJRH. The list isn’t intended to be organized in order of importance, since that may vary depending on the needs of the reader, nor is it my “top 6" lessons from the book overall. It’s just a few nuggets of social media marketing wisdom that hopefully inspire you to make some positive changes.

1. What’s needed is less ‘right-hooking’ and more ‘jabbing’

In my previous post here on Medium I went into more detail explaining Vaynerchuk’s boxing analogy of jabs and right hooks and how he applies them in marketing terms. In short, a right hook’s content aims to sell and self-promote and a jab’s content aims to engage and trigger an emotional response. Vaynerchuk’s long list of examples reveal that brands are throwing far, far too many right hooks that annoy their online fanbase and kill any engagement potential. He emphasizes over and over the need for well timed jabs that resonate with followers on an emotional level, thus reeling them in closer as brand loyalists and making them primed and ready for when you do want to throw that right hook to actually make a sale. Less right hooks. More jabs. That’s the secret sauce.

“There is no sale without the story; no knockout without the setup.”

2. Most brands still don’t understand social media, so most of their content really sucks

As I likewise described in my previous post, while reading JJJRH I was constantly amazed at how some of even the most iconic and powerful brands in the world could produce such crappy content for social media. Vaynerchuk has the examples that prove it. He also has plenty of noteworthy examples that are inspiring and enlightening, but after seeing it all, it’s hard not to walk away feeling like most of it is just…bad. This happens partly because brands still don’t know how to tell their story in each social platform’s native language, which results in poor content that looks out of place and drives away fans. But this provides an opportunity for marketers: Since most content online is still just low quality noise, it’s the creative and emotionally engaging content that will rise through the clutter and get noticed. Marketers need to make this kind of content happen.

“The content you’re putting out there sucks. You know why? Because even though consumers are now spending 10 percent of their time with mobile (a number that is soon going to be much higher), you’re only investing 1 percent of your ad budget there.”

3. Facebook, despite its popularity, is still one of the least understood social platforms

Modern social media marketing practically had its genesis along with the rise of Facebook, and the vast majority of brands and marketers claim it’s a critical part of their online marketing strategy. And yet they still don’t know how to use it properly. They still struggle to speak the network’s native language and fail to adapt to Facebook’s regular algorithmic changes. Vaynerchuk goes into great detail about how critical jabbing is on Facebook so as to keep engagement high and ensure you stay in follower’s news feeds. He also explains that almost no one takes advantage of the power of Facebook Analytics. So marketers shouldn’t feel comfy on Facebook, they still got a lot of work to do there.

“The majority of brands and businesses still haven’t realized the unprecendented insight Facebook gives us into people’s lives and psychology, insight that allows marketers to optimize every piece of micro content, and every right hook”

4. It’s all about brevity and super-micro-content

Vaynerchuk realizes something glaringly obvious that marketers easily forget: People use social media by rapidly scrolling through their feeds at 1,000mph, especially while on their phones, which is makes up the bulk amount of time spent on social. Thus, for a brand’s content to really stick out they need to share something that is different and eye-catching and compelling enough to quickly grab that user’s attention. This is insanely hard. You only have about 2 or 3 seconds to do this. Then, even if you get them to slow down just barely enough to have a closer look, you only have a few seconds more to get them to read, watch, click or whatever it is you want them to do with your content. It’s almost impossible, but it can be done. And the way you do it is with micro-content that is easily read on the fly. This means brief text — something that far too few brands do on Facebook. It means very simple, concise copy that gets right to the point and clearly points out its purpose, links or calls to action, making it as easy as possible for followers to engage. It means no more long form videos. Marketers need to save those for Youtube and keep their videos consumed elsewhere very Vine-like and Instagram-like with a duration of just 6-15 seconds. When it comes to social media content, less is more.

“Stop thinking about your content as content. Think about it, rather, as micro-content — tiny, unique nuggets of information, humor, commentary, or inspiration that you reimagine every day.”

5. Content may be King, but context is God

This is a quote that Vaynerchuk likes to throw around in his speeches and is a lesson that he emphasizes over and over in his book. Sharing content with the proper context involves, as I’ve repeated a few times already, communicating to followers in the social media platform’s own unique language. That means that a form of content that worked well on one platform may not work so well on another. It means posting content that is native to the platform and therefore in the form that drew millions of users to that platform in the first place. It means Twitter does well with short form text while Facebook encourages big, high quality images. Instagram is all about pictures taken with your phone that appear real and authentic, while Pinterest favors bright, glossy photos that look as though a professional took them. It gets even more detailed than that. Twitter users only like seeing a few clever hashtags while Instagram users are ok with you going crazy with them, using maybe even 10 or twelve. Short videos on Facebook, longer videos on Youtube. GIFs on Tumblr, still images everwhere else. You get the idea. Learn how to share content in the proper context and you’ll start to see engagement.

“You can put out good content, but if it ignores the context of the platform on which it appears, it can still fall flat.”

6. Brands are fatally thinking of social media as a distribution channel rather than a storytelling channel

Vaynerchuk claims too many brands are using social media the same way they used email marketing or banner advertising back in the day: As simply a distribution channel where you self promote and push uncompelling content in people’s faces. This has to change. Social media is something so, so much better than those older ways of digital marketing because it provides marketers with the opportunity to creatively share content that tells your story, sparks engagement and conversations and strikes an emotional chord. Sharing content this way is what creates brand loyalty and returning customers. Distributing salesy material is what gets you ignored and forgotten.

“Marketers are on social media to sell stuff. Consumers, however, are not. They are there for value.”

I’d be interested to hear the takeaways from other readers of Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. Though I’m confident most would agree that the list above accurately describes some of the major lessons in Vaynerchuk’s book, a lot could depend on specific insight they’re looking for and the real world experience they’ve had. Share the love.

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