Social media is increasingly seen as the place to be, especially for businesses. Most people spend a phenomenal amount of time using it. Over 70% of Americans are on Facebook, and there are more than half a billion Twitter users worldwide. What’s more, a quarter of us use social media to help us to make buying decisions. It is therefore essential for businesses to understand how to use it in marketing. However, many do not—and may suffer as a result. 

Worse, the popularity of social media also means that it is noisy and busy, making it hard to get your voice heard. How can companies overcome this issue and connect with their customers? In Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, author Gary Vaynerchuk sets out to provide advice on this issue. Here are our top takeaways for thought leaders.

You need both long-term engagement (the ‘jabs’ of the title) and a knock-out blow for success

Vaynerchuk describes an epiphany about social media. He had long advocated building long-term engagement (reminiscent of the regular blows or ‘jabs’ in boxing) as crucial to success on social media. However, he suddenly recognised that you also need a real ‘knock-out blow’ to deliver sales. Engagement alone is not enough—but neither is the right hook on its own. You need both.

The loudest shout doesn’t necessarily win the most attention

It may seem that the only way to make your voice heard in a maelstrom is by shouting louder. However, this is not true—and it can even be counter-productive. Sometimes shouting louder just annoys people, especially if you do it a lot. They’re likely to simply switch off. On social media, that means unfollowing you, so that you can no longer reach them at all. There is no comeback. One annoying post, and you could be history.

Content is king

Content is the most important aspect of attracting attention. It is too easy to avoid seeing ads. Instead, content has to be interesting to customers, so that they want to read it. If it isn’t, the algorithms on social media platforms will stop showing it to customers, because the user experience will suffer. Crucially, it also needs to be tailored to the platform, because people go to different social networks for different purposes. 

There are different tricks for different platforms—and certainly no ‘one size fits all’

Each social media platform has a slightly different ‘sweet spot’. On Facebook, interesting content will be shared, even if it is several days old. On Twitter, content is old after about 10 minutes, so companies need a different approach. Examples of suitable ways to keep content fresh include linking your tweets to trending topics, and hashtags. Crucially, you must tailor your content to the platform and the time, and not go for a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

You need to follow your audience

In selecting your social media platform(s), you have to follow your audience. You almost certainly know them, but are you using that knowledge? Many marketers make the mistake of underestimating and underusing Pinterest, for example. However, Pinterest users are almost 80% more likely to buy a product seen on Pinterest than Facebook. There are also far more women than men on Pinterest, and many of them are mothers. If this is your target demographic, you would be foolish to avoid that platform.

In following your audience, you should also follow their interests

We said before that linking your tweets to trending topics—also known as ‘trend-jacking’—is a good way to grab attention. You can use the list of trending topics and hashtags provided by Twitter for this purpose. However, you have to pick the right trend. In other words, you need a link topic that is interesting to your main target audience, or at least to people who might be interested in your product. 

As always, great content requires storytelling

There are three things to remember. You have to have a good story, you have to tell it right, and you have to put it in the right place. Exactly how and where you tell the story will differ, depending on your target audience and your product. There are no hard and fast rules about it—but it must attract the right audience, build long-term engagement jab by jab, and then encourage them to buy with a knock-out blow.