Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook 8


Every year, the world becomes a little smaller, a little more social, a little more connected. Creating content that allows us to share our experiences, thoughts, and ideas in real time is becoming an intrinsic part of life in the twenty-first century (in fact, it’s getting to the point that we’re making a statement when we don’t share or choose not to connect). That’s why it’s smart to consider the jab-and-right-hook potential of platforms that aren’t particularly social. It’s just a matter of time before users adapt them, or demand that the developers adapt them, to provide the social layer people increasingly expect and crave. Whatever isn’t a social experience now soon will be.
LinkedIn Launched: May 2003 200 million members Every second, two new members join. More than 2.8 million companies have a LinkedIn Company Page. Executives from all 2012 Fortune 500 companies are members. Students and recent college graduates are the site’s fastest-growing demographic.
I predict that in the next twenty-four months, checking in to LinkedIn will be like checking in to Facebook—a regular part of our daily existence. Each social network will serve a distinct and vital purpose in our lives, like rooms in a virtual Downton Abbey. Facebook will be our dining room, where we entertain and get to know one another; LinkedIn will be our library, where we get deals done. LinkedIn is already working hard to encourage more content creation and evolve from mere networking tool to professional hub. Users can now share articles, reviews, and examples of their work with their connections. The site has also launched the LinkedIn Influencers, where leaders contribute articles on their topic of expertise. All of this mirrors much of what can already be done on Facebook, and LinkedIn still has a long way to go to match the juggernaut’s scale. But in one regard LinkedIn does have an advantage. As an exclusively business-oriented site, it provides a natural platform for B2B marketers, who have so far not seen much reason to bother with Facebook. If you’re an office supply company, or a lawyer, LinkedIn can be an interesting place to tell your story, especially now while there is little to distract your fans. It is fertile jabbing ground for all business and brands, though, B2B or not. For more incentive, just imagine the spending power of the LinkedIn audience. LinkedIn’s relevance hasn’t reached a level where you need to post content at the same pace as you might on other social networking sites, but it would be wise to keep yourself in play here. LinkedIn will be where you have the most freedom to indulge in long copy. Consider what people are looking for when coming to the site. They’re hungry for information, they’re looking for a job, they need to find an in or an edge, they want to meet professionally like-minded people. There have to be creative, smart ways you can make yourself indispensable to someone in that frame of mind. You can afford to be less flashy, maybe a little more serious and thoughtful. Or maybe not. Maybe you steer clear of slang and OMG and LOL, but you still add a welcome breath of levity to a serious environment. The key to giving your brand momentum on LinkedIn will be to offer native content that’s completely different—and that has completely different value—from what you offer fans on other social networks.
Google+ Launched: June 2011 500 million users
The future of Google+ as a viable marketing platform is one big question mark. Right now, Google+ is where Twitter was in 2006 or 2007. It has a big selling point: its implications for a Web property’s SEO. Google gives preference to its own products, so having a Google+ account influences your search rankings. Still, so far it’s really only the early tech influencers who are there, just like they were on Twitter in the early days. The platform hasn’t caught on as quickly as Twitter, however, because there are more alternatives now than there were when Twitter came on the scene. Most of the world just isn’t that interested in Google+ as a stand-alone product, because it offers little that people can’t already get through Facebook. The numbers say differently. Google+ points to its 500 million users as proof that it is
steadily gaining a fan base. But the numbers are as overinflated as the lips of a Beverly Hills housewife, because Google requires consumers to sign up for a Google+ account if they want to register for any other of their product accounts, like YouTube. Look closely and you’ll see that a large percentage of all those Google+ accounts are dormant. It is completely reliant on the scale and power of Google’s other products. But if Google Glass takes off in the way I think it will over the next half decade, Google+ will have a shot at rivaling Facebook for consumers’ hearts. Why? Facebook and all the other social media platforms are scrambling to adapt for mobile. But Google Glass could conceivably replace mobile devices. It’s going to allow users to record everything they see, and stream it live. It will be capable of putting a map directly in your line of vision, show you Google results on command, and it will be entirely voice-activated and hands-free. With that kind of technology, who’s going to need a cell phone? Now, there are two ways this could go. Facebook will want to develop an app to let its users see what their friends are streaming on Glass, and Glass would understandably want to take advantage of Facebook’s scale to build its user base. However, Google could also decide to make the product a closed network, requiring anyone who wants to see content on the glasses to log in through a Google+ account. If the glasses capture the public’s imagination, and the only way to use it is through Google+, they’re going to start spending a lot more time in those now-dormant accounts. As Google continues to natively integrate Google+ into all the other Google services and devices that people already love—Search, Gmail, YouTube, and Android devices—it’ll be a knockout win for Google. And since the platform is so similar to Facebook, it won’t require marketers to wrestle with reinventing their content strategy.
Launched: January 2013 As of June 2013, Vine gained 13 million users. In the week following its launch, almost half the videos posted on Twitter originated from Vine. Five Vine videos are shared every six seconds on Twitter.
Restrictions are a powerful thing. Although we often chafe at the limitations imposed by our marketing platforms, those limitations often bring out our storytelling creativity. That’s why we should all be paying close attention to Vine, the six-second looping-video platform Twitter recently bought and launched to a whole lot of hoopla. By the time this book comes out, we’re going to see how its restrictions have inspired some incredibly powerful storytelling. Currently, a lot of potential viewers pass over the opportunity to watch videos because they can’t be sure if they’re about to get sucked in for ten seconds or ten minutes, and that’s not counting the preroll. The promise of a six-second limit is going to encourage a lot of people to watch Vine videos, representing a great opportunity for the marketer with the right skill set. Truth be told, I’m infatuated with Vine. I think that six-second promise is going to turn it into one of the major platforms in the marketplace. It’s the perfect product for our world—offering enough variety to satisfy the cravings of consumers constantly looking for their next dopamine hit, short enough for those time-pressed consumers to come back for more over and over again. One father I know told me that Vine was causing problems for his fifteen-year-old daughter, because she was staying up until three in the morning watching Vine videos. When asked why, she said it wasn’t intentional. She’d decide to shut down, but then she’d spot a new video, and think, “Well, just one more—it’s only six seconds.” Brands and businesses need to make it a priority to figure out Vine. Much like Instagram and Facebook before it, it is skewing young in its early months, appealing to eight- to twenty-oneyear-olds. In twenty-four to thirty-six months, however, that demo will increase substantially, and businesses will need to be there. This platform could do to YouTube what Twitter did to Facebook. There will always be longer-form stories that will be better suited for YouTube, but Vine will become the video-watching platform of choice, especially because of its integration with Twitter. For further incentive, consider this: as of March 2013, consumers share branded Vine videos four times as often as branded Internet videos. My only regret is that the platform just isn’t mature enough for me to be able to tell you more about how best to use it. The best I can do is urge you to pay attention to how you edit your videos. A lot of people make the mistake of shooting an image for six straight seconds. That’s boring. Just as edits and cuts are what build rhythm and suspense into a full-length movie, edits and cuts are critical to storytelling on Vine. There will probably be one or two major changes to the platform in the near future, but I, along with the rest of you, will be working my ass off to figure out how to best use this amazing tool as it evolves. I’m currently trying to create a new agency to represent the best Viners in the world. Check back with me to see if I pulled it off by the time this book goes into print.
Snapchat Launched: September 2011 60 million “snaps” are sent per day as of February 2013. My Snapchat name is GaryVayner.
Launched in 2011, Snapchat, the service that allows users to send photos and videos that self-destruct in a matter of seconds, was immediately labeled a sexting platform. Many people would be surprised to discover that it’s actually used much more for circulating visual gags and jokes than dirty pictures. Snapchat was made for a world that can’t stand one minute of boredom, and that is fast becoming addicted to putting out content. I share, therefore I am. Whereas before, the Internet operated under the 90-9-1 rule—the principle that generally, 90 percent of Internet users consume content, 9 percent edit it, and merely 1 percent create it— apps like Snapchat are going to shift those ratios to reflect something more along the lines of a 75-20-5 rule. Snapchat is not for profound content, nor to produce anything that’s going to be treasured for eternity, or even analyzed as a case study one day. It’s where people will go for a quick laugh before moving on. Imagine the power of a brand or business that can jab well enough to become the source of choice for those little moments that get us through our day. It’s also a place where your content is likely to get more focused attention than on any other platform, because knowing that your content will disappear in seconds is incentive enough for consumers to make sure they don’t miss it. As usual, this new platform has been derided for its low value. It’s not useful. No one will use it for anything important. It has no value. We’ve heard it all before. The debate swirling around the actual value of Snapchat is the same debate that was swirling around Facebook and Twitter not so long ago. Yet someone is clearly finding value in the platform when more than 60 million images are being sent around on a daily basis. And that value is only going to grow as the platform matures. For now these platforms offer limited opportunities for right hooks. But for now isn’t forever. Someone is going to figure out how to do it. It could be me. It might be someone else. Why not make it you?

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