The Thank You Economy - Gary Vaynerchuk

Thesis: In The Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk says that it in order for companies of any size to grow in the future, they will have to engage their customers at a personal level. His logic for this is that in the past, commerce was dominated by small mom and pop shops and interactions with customers at a personal level was the norm. Then in the 1950′s, people moved out to the suburbs which led to increased isolation. People had weaker social networks and so their bond with commerce was weakened and there was also less opportunity to speak to other members of their community and bring up recent customer experiences. This led to faceless large companies replacing small shops. Now, with the advent of social networking, people are more connected to their community (thus can spread recommendations and negative stories about brands), it also makes it easier for people to communicate with their brands again.

Contents: The book contains a lot of anecdotes of how big and small businesses have used social networking to advertise their brand. Gary highlights a lot of good practices and also offers improvements. He also goes on to describe how to combine social networking campaigns with traditional media such as billboards and tv commercials.

Review: I recommend reading this book because there’s a lot of great ideas about how to carry out marketing campaigns using social media. Gary really does have some good and original ideas for both large companies and small companies. The book was fairly short, which is a good thing because there wasn’t much fluff in it.

I did find issue with his main thesis; I feel like it ignores simple economic logic. I think that a certain segment of the population will switch to a brand if it starts replying to their tweets, while a much larger segment of the population will shop at the cheapest, most convenient place (Walmart.) Customer service has a cost, which ultimately gets added to the price of the product sold. He didn’t do a good job of explaining how the entire population will decide to pay more in order for companies to tweet with them.

This flaw is highlighted at the start of the book when he laments that full service gas stations are much less popular than self serve, citing this as an example of poor customer service. The fact is that both types of gas stations exist, and the full service stations cost a few cents more. If people were willing to pay a few more cents for better customer service, then all gas stations would be full service.

Overall, his stories about how small businesses advanced their brand online were a lot more convincing then how the big companies can be successful. Small businesses are really building a relationship between their sole owner and the customer. People can picture who their speaking to. When Dairy Queen posts “What’s your favourite Blizzard flavour” on Facebook, who are you actually having a conversation with? In the book, Gary speaks about the wildly successful Old Spice campaign, which used both tv commercials and social networking. Gary claims at the start of the campaign he bought some Old Spice deodorant, but after the campaign ended and he hadn’t received any more tweets from them, he no longer bought Old Spice. This is an odd narrative to me. Some great advertising campaign got him to try a new deodorant, and either he liked it or he didn’t. If Social Networking relations dictated his deodorant choice, then what deodorant’s tweets caused him to switch?

This book did get me thinking about social relationships between people and large companies, but that will be the topic of another post.