“My career has been predicated on day trading attention,” said Gary Vaynerchuk. That means finding where your audience is and talking to them there, he noted at Inman Connect San Francisco, where he gave the keynote speech on Thursday morning.

SAN FRANSISCO — “My career has been predicated on day trading attention,” said Gary Vaynerchuk.

That means finding where your audience is and talking to them there, he noted at Inman Connect San Francisco, where he gave the keynote speech on Thursday morning.

And that’s something that everybody can learn from — especially people who use Instagram, Snapchat and other new technologies designed to help capture audience attention. “You know that attention can shift in minutes,” he said.

“We are living through the biggest communication shift since the printing press,” he added. “Every single person in this room, including myself, is grossly underestimating how big of a shift this is.”

Complacency is your enemy

Have you become complacent or romantic about your business? Stop it, Vaynerchuk said — because when something works, our human tendency is to hold on tight to it.

“It is devastating to me that Twitter doesn’t hold the attention that it did six or seven years ago,” he said. “In 2011, when I started noticing that even though I had 800,000 followers, I was not getting the same results that I was when I had 50,000 followers — that became the moment that I, instead of doing what most people do — put my head in the sand, or hope, fucking hope, that everything’s going to be OK. What I started doing in 2011 was investing a lot more time and energy in figuring out Instagram, in figuring out Snapchat.

“I spent a lot of times on things that didn’t work out. SocialCam, Vine, Pinterest,” he added. But spending the time on the platforms that caught fire was worth the time he spent on things that didn’t.

You are a media company — like it or not

It is critical — critical — for every person in the room to understand that their business is really two things: It’s a media company and a real estate company.

“When you make that mental shift, the content that you put out on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat fundamentally changes,” he argued.

“When you decide to become the digital mayor of your town, everything changes. You provide the content of the best restaurants, reviewing the school system, and every other nook and cranny in the 2, 4, 6, 8 towns that you live in — you bring value to end users interested in moving into your town.

“They are looking for that information,” he continued. “Why can’t you be the person that interviews the principals of all the schools? Why can’t you be the person who writes a review of every dish in your town?”

Where should you be paying attention?

“If you’re sitting in this room this morning, you have a real career, a real business,” said Vaynerchuk. “The fact that most people in this room don’t invest $1,000 a month into Facebook is borderline laughable and downright stupid.

“I grew my dad’s wine business because I launched a website before websites were important,” he added — and his email marketing program that he started before anyone was email marketing got 91 percent open rates.

“Not because I was a hero or I was so smart or wrote great copy, but because in 1997, nobody was doing email marketing.”

Today, a 33-percent open rate is considered good. (Once again: Complacency is your enemy.)

“Social media is a slang term for the current state of the internet,” he said. And everyone is underestimating how central mobile devices will be to our lives.

“I would literally rather somebody stab me in the streets of New York and steal my wallet than lose my fucking phone,” Vaynerchuk said. “For example, I today, for all my businesses, my 150-plus investments, my personal brand — I don’t even think about the internet at all in any other platform beside my mobile device.”

That is not an exaggeration. He’s redesigning vaynermedia.com for mobile only. When the new site launches, if you visit on a laptop or desktop browser, it will literally not work.

Mobile-first will become mobile-only, he said.

Spend time learning about what’s new, while it’s new

“I’ve got a friend who in the last four months has sold four homes through Facebook Live to people who weren’t at his open homes,” said Vaynerchuk.

The audience for the videos wasn’t huge — about 50 people, Vaynerchuk explained — but three of those four transactions involved a viewer sharing it; then their friends saw it, and a buyer was found.

“There is real transactional value going on in this environment, and I’m thirsty for people to understand how big a deal this is.”

Take Instagram as an example. “The fastest-growing demographic of selfies on Instagram are 40-to-50-year-old females. Literally cougar selfies! Listen, I love it,” he said.

But don’t discount those selfie-takers — these women are making decisions about buying homes.

His advice? Use Instagram, and use hashtags — lots of them. “I highly, highly, highly recommend using 10, 15, 20 hashtags. The no. 1 way to get discovered is through tactical hashtag evolution.” Understand which hashtags have a lot of results, which ones don’t and where you can stand out.

“The fact that you didn’t grow up with this is not an excuse,” he added — after all, we aren’t born learning how to drive. We learn!

In 20 years, everything will be different

“I hope you understand that the biggest point of my talk this morning is that if you are not digitally native, you will die. The people that are, are going to take your business.

“Do you know what I’m most worried about? Success. That is my enemy because you become complacent. Why do I need to figure out Facebook video or Snapchat? I’m good now. I don’t need this.

“The problem is — and let’s get really humble together, really quick — way bigger businesses than you have been put out of business due to technology shifts. Borders was a bigger business than yours.”

And don’t discount the up and comers because they aren’t quite “ready” yet. In a world where the internet came along only 20 years ago, investing in VR today might be premature — but in 20 years, it will be part of a whole new reality.

And it takes time for new tactics to work. You can’t decide you’re going to try Snapchat in January and decide in February that it didn’t work.

“Until four months ago, I had been putting out content every day — I’ve been Gary Vee, I get plenty of exposure, pounding away, doing everything right.” And all that work had generated 500,000 likes and followers on his Facebook fan page.

Four months ago, though, something happened that took Vaynerchuk to more than 1 million likes and followers: “I figured out how Facebook video is working in a better way.”

Consumers have significant demands for their attention — so you need to be good at capturing it

Vaynerchuk left the audience with three main ways they can take advantage of the new media trends.

  1. Become disproportionately educated about whatever platform you think will be the next big thing. This is not wasted time, Vaynerchuk insists — the hours he put into understanding SocialCam and Vine have helped make his Snapchat and Instagram game much stronger.
  2. Figure out how to think of yourself as a media company. “Have a local podcast,” he suggests. “It’s not about how many followers you have; it’s about how many followers you need to buy something.”
  3. Understand what somebody who’s 22 right now will be doing when they’re getting ready to buy their first home in 10 years. “It’s the same tried-and-true shit — it’s word of mouth,” he said. “But the important part is, that cell phone, the internet — that is the infrastructure of word-of-mouth in our society today.”

“The world changes, and the biggest thing I’m worrying about is that the world is changing in a much bigger way than you or I realize,” he said.

“If you have the audacity to sit here and want to have a business on your terms, and crush it, and live your life your way, then you have to put work into this craft.”

Email Amber Taufen

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