Connecting people and ideas through improvisation

Lace up your gloves for 12 rounds with Vaynerchuk

Jab, Jab, Right Hook“Authentic” is an eye-rollingly overused word, but I still apply it to Gary Vaynerchuk. I first ran into Gary about the time Twitter started, and every time I’ve encountered him since then I’m always curious to hear what he’s going to hold court about. I know I won’t always agree with it, but that’s fine. Gary always calls it like he sees it, and I rather like disagreeing with smart people. It forces me to up my game.

So I took Gary up on his offer to check out a copy of his new book, “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World” (JJJRH). It was almost exactly what I expected, which is a good thing.

In person, Gary can both pontificate on grand ideas and back it up with specific examples. JJJRH does the same. It’s a mix of perspective on content and communication, alongside entertaining decomposition of very specific examples. And I mean he has actual screenshots of tweets or posts so you can see what he’s referring to. No vague handwaving here. A lot of social content books don’t get down in the mud and specifics perhaps for fear of not pissing off the companies in question. Gary lacks that fear.

I also enjoy how much improvisation Gary has in his style, which you really appreciate if you see Gary speak in person (and work a crowd). You can see hints of it throughout this book even if he doesn’t call it by that name. Listening, engaging, and playing by the rules of the scene are all here.

His key message is right in the title – balance your engagement and don’t try to make everything a knock-out blow. He’s right, but I rather wish he had lightened up on the boxing analogy a bit. It felt a little overdone by the end, and I hope he doesn’t try to bite my ear off for thinking that. (badum-tish!)

RRJH fits well with Gary’s other two books, but they aren’t prerequisites. If you’ve been doing content and marketing work for a while, read it for some new ideas. If you’re new to this space, read it for some great perspective and background.


Refining this whole Social Media Improv idea…

Binta and the Great Idea

Image via Wikipedia

This blog has been quiet, but I’ve been working on evolving the idea of Improv and Social Media for the past few months.  I spoke on it at the BOLO conference, and again at PodCampAZ, evolving the discussion both times. BOLO explored a wider range of improv techniques, including many short form games.  My PodCampAZ talk went deeper into specifics, like building a scene or character. Much of the feedback is that the ideas are interesting and people like a new approach, but they want something concrete to work on. What’s the specific application to themselves and their own SM work?

This is a bit of a puzzler for me, as I see improvisation itself as the application. The problem is that most people don’t have that background, and don’t want to take improv classes to get it. So I need a way to bridge that gap and build a connection.

The other challenge is that many people are far more interested in measurement and growth than techniques. I often note that when someone wants to start a blog, their first questions are usually software choices, getting readers, SEO, managing comments, user accounts, and on and on.  They don’t mention “Learning how to write” until much later, if at all. Human nature, I suppose, but all that optimization isn’t going to help if you have crappy content. I still need to address this, so have to connect to the measurement and interaction part of people’s interest.

Fortunately in the next week I’ll be able to try two new presentations. The first is on Jan 19th for Commpose, the local Copywriter’s meetup group. They’ve asked me to speak about improv in relation to writing, which is a slightly different flavor but still directly applicable. This is an open group with some great people, so if you’re a writer come down and check it out. I’m not that familiar with the needs and concerns of copywriters, so I may do a bit of improvising of my own on this talk.

The second talk will be at the Social Media AZ conference on January 25th in Tempe.  The topic will be Using Improv To Build A Genuine Online Presence, and I’ll be taking a few of the ideas – character, conflict, and scene – and exploring them in more depth. I’m anticipating a small group since I’m at the end of the day and scheduled against Evo Terra talking about Making Social Media Pay, but if this topic is of any interest please stop by. You can use the speaker code “Jeff” to get a 45% discount on admission.  I would love any feedback as I continue to ponder and experiment.


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