Book Review: 'Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook' Offers Insight for Non-Profit Organizations

Earlier in November, I came across this piece on the New York Times site about this man named Gary Vaynerchuk and his edgy & progressive approach to engagement via social media. I was a bit captivated so I took the audacious step of contacting his publisher and asking for a review copy. They shipped it out the next day.

Who could resist a NYT piece entitled “Riding the Hashtag” after all?

Let me offer a caveat – I am putting together a shared social media planning effort among several local LGBTQ non-profits and community groups so I’m interested in tools that can help bring everyone up to speed without requiring intense background reading.  Balancing how to use social media as a user with the organizational planning needs is a challenge. I hoped this book would be the ticket and lead me to purchase a dozen copies for the planning team. (Waiting on a grant to see if that will happen, in all honesty.)

My copy of the book resting next to my laptop as I tap out an experimental tweet.

Vaynerchuk’s concept is fairly simple – deliver good and useful content to your audience and be strategic about your asks. In essence, three jabs followed by a right hook. The jabs – a boxing analogy – maneuver your target into the best space for the right hook to be effective. The hook is the ask.

This is not unfamiliar to those who’ve been groomed to adopt a 70/30 approach (70% posts of “giving” and 30% of “asks”) or similar ratios. But Vaynerchuk’s writing style and page after page of examples elevates the rhetoric from a bland statistic to a powerful image.

He does revisit how to craft a good jab, something explored in an earlier book (it’s on my Amazon wish list) but dives right into defining an effective right hook.

Vaynerchuk starts with Facebook, gets right to the heart of the challenges of how we use Facebook and then offers an array of examples of the good, the bad and the ugly with detailed analysis. He moves on to Twitter with the same intensity. He wraps up with Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest then briefly explores other tools such as LinkedIn, SnapChat and Google+. I opened a SnapChat account that very day because one of my clients engages youth so I wanted to see how it worked.

I think this book is a good fit for a small business hoping to leverage social media to engage their audience, to maximize their online presence. And I am still thinking through the implications for non-profits. Vaynerchuk does offer some examples of large international NPO’s, but that doesn’t easily translate to a group of very small LGBTQ organizations.

I believe this book will help me persuade my skeptics to give these tools a try. I’ve already begun experimenting with crafting better jabs with mixed results, but its only been a week.

Still, the LGBTQ community is using Facebook more than another subcommunity while less than 50% of us are out online – that’s a challenge. Folks are going to visit our pages, but they won’t like our pages or posts because they don’t want the formal affiliation. That’s a different opportunity to engage. And reflects a desperate need for the LGBTQ groups to up their games and connect with all of these people – whatever it takes.

How do you craft a hook, much less jabs, when you can’t measure them but you know they are landing?

It takes a plan, useful policies & procedures and teamwork. And examples – Vaynerchuk hits many of the points that do impact our community – too much “me me me” posting, inconsistent or complicated messaging, failing to engage people or using these tools as marketing tools, not engagement tools. I would  have loved him to address the folks who send Facebook posts through to Twitter more directly, but perhaps he did that in another book. I think the most important message from this particular book is that it takes *time* to use social media effectively. And that’s the second thing small non-profits don’t have, after money.

The book itself is a glossy hardback with beautiful images that are easy to read and interpret. He’s not hesitant to lay out the difficulties we face – telling our stories with constantly changing technology and always creating content to give value to our target audience. An all-volunteer organization with an operating budget of less than $10k reaching out to a semi-closeted online LGBTQ community has another level of challenge. And opportunity.

I’m planning to read his earlier books. I’d like to see him venture out into the NPO world where there are no marketing teams and clip art still abounds. But that’s me being greedy. My solution is to partner this book with a Beth Kanter book focusing on social media for nonprofits and draw the best from both worlds.

Here’s what I’m doing differently since I began reading this book

  • Experimenting with SnapChat with my adult friends
  • Adding twitter trends to my “must read” lists each day and practicing reaching out to respond to the trends
  • Radically revamping my Facebook posts to be image focused
  • Monitoring the brands who target my community
  • Making plans to revamp Pinterest and Instagram

You can purchase “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” on Amazon just in time for Cyber Monday (great tie in) for $17.99. Or you can ask your local bookseller to order it for you and support a small business. Or check it out from the library. But for anyone who is serious about growing their brand identity on social media, this is a must-not-miss book.

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