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Gary Vaynerchuk Puts the Social in Social Media

Shot at SXSW08

If there’s one person who personifies the words, “Internet Rock Star” or “Internet Famous,” there’s no need to look any further than Gary Vaynerchuk, host of WineLibraryTV.

Gary is the epitome of the old adage, “If I can do it, anyone can do it.”

Vaynerchuck’s passion, dedication, and perseverance has given way to success that has yet to reveal it’s full potential. He’s moving on up…

The Web is fertile ground for those who can transcend its reach from computer screens into the homes, minds, and hearts of the masses. It’s no easy task either. Vaynerchuk is well on his way however. He’s already appeared on the Conan O’Brien Show, The Ellen Degeneres Show, and Nightline, as well as receiving coverage in the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, New York Magazine, among other forms of major media.

Not only is he “Internet Famous,” his activities have helped grow the family wine business to the tune of $50 million per year. But even more significantly, he has flipped the wine industry on its head, opening the door to bring wine to the hearts, and palates, of the everyday person. He’s become the wine industry’s golden child, credited with contributing to the invigoration and rejuvenation of a more open and approachable wine market. What Robert Parker is to wine aficionados, Vaynerchuck is to the rest of us. But he can hold is own against the best of them.

He recently signed with Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the, if not the most, powerful talent agencies in the world. Gary has the potential of becoming the next “Rachel Ray,” but I’ll give him more credit than that.

The food industry was already approachable and embraceable by the masses. The wine world has sort of maintained an elitist (perceived) arrogance for centuries. While the blogosphere in general has lowered the barrier to entry for people with opinions and insight to share, Gary took a bazooka and blew everything wide open.

Gary’s success could simply be chalked up to the stuff that most only dream about. After all, he’s exciting, unpredictable, fun, charismatic, and most importantly relatable and unbelievably contagious. Oh, and to use his words, “he’s good looking too.” He deserves this success and has earned every bit of his notoriety.

But if you ask Gary, he’ll tell you that he’s only doing what everyone could and should be doing. “We’re in a gold rush,” he says as he observes the current state of Social Media and the equal opportunities that are present and available to all of us.

He’s right.

Two years ago, he started a video blog dedicated to spotlighting the wine sold at the Wine Library, his family business. He has remained dedicated to recording and uploading five action-packed episodes of “The Thunder Show” each and every week and is already up to video number 420 (at the time of this post).

His shows “humanize” the once faceless wine industry and demonstrate not only the potential for social media, but how engaging with people as a person and not a marketer, help spark action, conversations, and build global micro-communities and priceless relationships along the way. At least 60,000 people watch him everyday.

Gary is the epitome of the ClueTrain Manifesto credo, “participation is marketing.”

But at the end of the day, marketing is also marketing.

Gary not only records captivating and edge-of-your-seat wine reviews daily, he actively promotes the show brand and his personal brand, across the Web and across the globe. WineLibrary TV is Gary and Gary is The Thunder Show. It’s one in the same and the online video program is merely an extension of him. This is the quintessential definition of Social Media. It’s about democratized content and earned authority achieved through:








So how does Gary celebrate his success?

Well, aside from tirelessly promoting his brand, making new friends, tasting and reviewing wine, and supporting his beloved New York Jets, he gives back to the community to demonstrate that his achievements are only reflective of the bigger opportunities out there for everyone else to achieve.

If Gary is representative of what Social Media contributes to the Wine Industry, then surely there is room for mavens across every market segment along the bell curve, from the market “head” all the way to the Long Tail.

“No matter what your niche is, you need to become part of the community. Join the conversation,” professed Vaynerchuk.

He’s right. But, don’t drink the Kool-Aid just yet. This is show business baby and you need to have something to say, be believable, and the ability to consistently deliver and offer value to your community in order to garner any hope of traction.

But Vaynerchuk doesn’t drink the Kool-Aid; he drinks wine. And, he also swirls it, swishes it, and spits it back out after he’s tasted it to share his very real reaction. He’s not bestowing anything upon you. He’s not marketing at you. He’s not selling you. He’s sharing himself with you. He’s providing content, value, and perspective. And guess what, he’s also listening to you. He makes this about dialog.

So, what do you stand for? What do you represent?

“If you put out great content, you will be found. Stick with it,” he states. “Be out there early and often, and don’t be repetitive. It’s like having the same haircut, wearing the same clothes, doing the same things every single day, you’re not going to keep the attention of the people that watch you everyday. Make it fresh and current!”

Shot at Web 2.0 Expo New York

Believe in what you’re doing.

His advice is profound. If you’re scattered, inconsistent, and meandering, then you’re not serving your audience. They’ll look elsewhere for content otherwise. I’m too am guilty of not following these words. It’s a point I think you’ll see addressed on my blog in 2008.

It’s not just about creating killer content. It’s also doing everything it takes to get people to love it, react to it, and also share it.

Build it and they will come…

Nah, not true. Just because you build it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that people will automatically show up in hordes to see what you have to say.

So I asked him, What else he suggests you do to get their presence out there. His response, “LOL. Great question. How about WORK!? Content is King, but Marketing my friend, is the queen. You have to become part of the conversation and that means being a part of it not a spammer!”

Gary has employed a variety of online tools, much in the same way any company, brand or person looking to generate consistent visibility should embrace. He calls it the, “24/7, 365, Hustle 2.0 mentality” that everyone needs to embody to win in their genre or its just not going to happen. You have to “know” what you’re talking about. Don’t spin it.

His marketing arsenal includes:

Affiliate marketing
Online advertising
Speaking engagements
Public Relations
Networking (Real life social networks)
Event marketing
Participation in social networks
Grassroots marketing
Community relations

Even though opportunities for smart and passionate people are abundant, I asked Gary why he thought people still underestimate the reach of the Web as a viable medium for branding.

“Because people are looking at this in the short-term. This is a “time” game and it’s just a matter of time!”

So I dove a little deeper in order to help people connect what they have to say with Gary’s words of wisdom. I wanted to know, in his opinion, what is it that “regular” people possess that they don’t know, in order to be successful on the web?

“If you are a guy that sleeps in the basement of your mom’s house, 32, in order to boycott reality TV, you are a few videos away from being the king of those people and becoming a cult star! Embrace who YOU are and WORK hard it!”

Essentially, find your niche and create compelling and meaningful content. But you also need to still be part of the community.

Success doesn’t go to his head either. He’s still genuine. He’s still one of us. Instead of cashing in, he gives back. He’s the proverbial “rising tide” hoping to float all boats.

If Social Media had an Anthony Robbins, it would be Gary Vaynerchuk. His goal is to leverage Social Media not just for his own success, but for yours as well.

Let’s take this recent week as an example.

Gary flew out to the Affiliate Summit on Monday, Strategic Profits on Tuesday, and the Future of Web Apps on Friday.

His message?

Be yourself.

OK, we’ve heard it before…but what does he mean specifically?

YOU ARE THE BRAND!!! You don’t need endorsements from people in your industry. Differentiate yourself! Don’t buy lists, make lists.

Let’s take a look at just some of the “pages” and “pages” of examples that turn up in Google Search to gauge how his message resonated with the people who listened…through their words:

Affiliate Summit:


Gary Vaynerchuk, Host, Wine Library TV explained the most important thing is to talk about what you know. If what you know about are redheaded hamsters, then video about redheaded hamsters. There are people out there looking for that information. Find your niche. Find your passion and video about it. You put out something that is good and you will win. It is not about the quality of the camera, lights, or make-up. It is all about the content!

Strategic Profits:

Our Awesome Planet

1. He encourages all Internet Marketers to give ALL their content for FREE. Give value to readers, give information for FREE, but market the hell out of it!

2. Content is King, Marketing and PR is the Queen and we all know who runs the household.

3. Be a BIG part of the conversation. This is tough and requires hard work that not all Internet marketers will embrace. You need to leave comments on all the blogs of people, answer every email, and empower readers to interact with your brand. Gary responds to each and every email that he receives ( about 1,000 messages/ day)!

4. Legacy > Currency. Live and strive to work on your legacy NOW. Don’t wait to grow old and waste your time with things that are not important in life.

5. Follow your heart. Love Everyone.

BONUS: Watch Gary’s incredible presentation here.

Future of Web Apps (FOWA):

Oatmeal Stout

If you’re going to do something, love what you do. If you don’t love it, it will show.
Your customers and their thoughts and needs are the most important thing.

Even right before he went on stage, Gary was answering e-mails from folks who had questions about wine. He was serving his users. This is by far the reason why he has been so successful in business and why his fans are so vocal about their support of him. He’s willing to give himself.

If you’re a CEO and you’re too busy to have a lot of face time with your user base that you should hire a community manager.

Gary is something special and his message is inspirational. We’re living in interesting time and this, my friends, is where people will look back to see how Social Media truly amplified the voices of those who had something to say and share.

He believes in the web, and is not yet jumping to the small screen (aka your TV). Instead he’ll continue to build his brand, engage with his community, help people “get” wine and at the same time, help you find and promote your niche.

Of the people, for the people.

Gary is where he is because of who he is…that’s truly the power of Social Media.

So to echo Gary’s words, “With you and a little bit of me, we’re changing the wine world, whether they like it or not.”

Indeed Gary. With you, a little bit of me, and the participation of people everywhere, we’re redefining the media landscape, empowering each other, creating a new layer of influencers, and breathing new life into those timeless words, “We the people…”

Rock on Gary!

Gary Vaynerchuk, Brian Solis, Chris Brogan

Connect with me on Twitter, Jaiku, LinkedIn, Pownce, Plaxo, or Facebook.

24 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Gary Vaynerchuk Puts the Social in Social Media”

  1. Frank Gruber says:

    Nice writeup Brian.

  2. Tyler says:

    So happy to see you took a closer look at Gary V. I’ve been a huge fan of his for over a year, and I’m continually amazed at how well he brands himself, and interacts with his viewers. He gets you excited about wine — which just so happens to be what he sells for a living!

  3. Eric says:

    Gary’s drive is infectious. He inspires me to do more of what I do. He and I shot a Gardenfork show on the Wine Library TV set where we talk about wine and community. You can watch it here :

  4. Steve Garfield says:

    Hi Brian,
    Great post…

    Looking forward to meeting Gary at SXSW!

  5. Kevin Gianni says:

    I you haven’t seen Gary speak yet, you’re in for a treat. I saw him at Strategic Profits and have been getting my things into to place to make my brand larger. I think what’s most telling about Gary is that he spent 4 hours with a handful of people after his talk and answered every question about marketing we each had. A few people even asked if he wanted a break, but he said, that he didn’t he was here to help. Once you start following the guy, he’s everywhere… I just saw him on a billboard from the NJ turnpike driving home to CT today. 🙂

    Thanks for posting this, Brian!

  6. Jared Goralnick says:

    Such a great write up, Brian. I felt the same way as Justin (oatmeal stout) seeing him at TNNI, and all his online shows are just as good. He’s an inspiration, and you’ve captured much of the why here.

  7. Carly says:

    Really nice article! Linked to your site from facebook…GV gave you a shoutout by linking up your article! (I wonder if Mott did it for him?)

    Keep up the good work!

  8. Deirdre says:

    Wow…Gary sounds like an amazing and passionate individual. I will check out WineLibraryTV and will tell my wine connoisseur friends!

    Good stuff Brian, keep it coming 🙂

  9. New Media Curious says:

    That, my friend, is a great post! One I will go back to again and again.

  10. Miiko Mentz says:

    Nice post Brian! Vaynerchuck’s passion, drive and words of wisdom are inspirational, but more importantly a lesson to many. I like your point about “If Gary is representative of what Social Media contributes to the Wine Industry, then surely there is room for mavens across every market segment along the bell curve, from the market “head” all the way to the Long Tail.”

    That is so true. Over the weekend I met with a friend who works in the spa industry and I was explaining that very point to her about how to use social media to her advantage to grow her business. She has the opportunity to become a maven in her industry. It’s wide open and up for grabs. Those who get it, embrace it and use social media to their advantage have everything to gain.

    My final comment, I love this: “Content is King, Marketing and PR is the Queen and we all know who runs the household.” How can you not love that!

    Once again, great post Brian!

  11. Paul Chaney says:

    What an inspirational post. It energized me and got my wheels to turning. If your post can do that, I wonder what watching Gary’s videos might do.

    Thanks for a great synopsis. Keep em coming!

  12. walhus says:

    Great commentary Brian.

    Dina Knight, Cheryl Hill and I are interviewing attendees, panelists and trade show exhibitors at SXSW for and I see that you’re going to SXSW. Geek News Central was a big hit on itunes with it’s coverage of CES in Las Vegas this year.

    Would you be willing to do a skype or phone interview with us online now and then do a video interview at SXSW? My skype name is walhus. Phone is 512.699.4000. The video would appear on both of the above mentioned sites.

    If this is ok, send your contact phone and skype to with a suggested time to call or skype you.


    Paul Terry Walhus
    512.699.4000 cellphone – add me

  13. Marta Strickland says:

    Great post!!

    Gary rocked it at FOWA. He was a great bookend to the conference which began with a fantastic presentation on “Creating Passionate Users” from Kathy Sierra. The two pieces tied in together quite nicely. Gary is doing a great job voicing the role of the community leader and the personal brand. I think there is more to the story than that, though. There was something missing in the wine world before WineLibraryTV and Corkd (and how awesome is it that they joined forces)… and that was community. Gary seems to recognize the power that community has in bringing wine to the next level.

    I tried to tie some of the points of Kathy and Gary’s presentations into an article:


  14. Brian Solis says:

    @Frank Gruber, thank you sir!

    @Tyler, he’s a dynamo and an inspiration to us all!

    @Eric, Absolutely! Thanks for sharing the link!

    @steve garfield, thank you. I look forward to seeing both Gary and you at SXSW.

    @kevin gianni, that’s a great story and “very” gary. I didn’t know he was on billboards though!

    @jared goralnick thank you! I really appreciate that feedback.

    @carly, thanks for stopping by. LOL re: Mott!

    @deirdre, he is amazing. Or as he would say, “aaaammmmaaaaazziiing”

    @new media curious, thank you my friend 🙂

    @miiko mentz. you’re just saying that 😉 – Thanks for sharing your story. It’s exactly right on.

    @paul chaney, don’t thank me, thank Gary 🙂 He’s a true inspiration to us all.

    @marta, thanks for the link! Let’s all go check it out…

  15. Patrick Byers says:

    Ah, timing.

    One of my partners is a wine nut and has been talking about Gary Vaynerchuk for a few years now.

    At lunch yesterday, he told me about a recent video he had seen and how I definitely needed to share it on my Responsible Marketing Blog (

    I was going to do something big and bold (like a monster Cab) on this. You’ve done that, so I guess I’ll go light and simple (like a nice Fume Blanc) instead.

    Keep up the great work.

    Patrick Byers
    The Responsible Marketing Blog

  16. Anonymous says:

    Super rad bitchen Post Brian!

    Tim Reha Venture All Stars

  17. Ydeveloper says:

    So for the online marketing point of view, the inbound is the word that used for content, PR, search and social requirements.

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