Dual Book Review: Youtility & Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

Youtility and Jab Jab Jab Right Hook Book ReviewI wrapped up 2013 by reading two of the most hailed social media books of the year, Youtility by Jay Baer and Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk (JJJRH). I’ll preface this review by saying that I’ve been working with social media for business in some capacity since 2009, and in a dedicated role for the last year. I don’t have much patience for intro-level material, but I realize the vast majority of small business owners and marketers still need a primer. I think Youtility and JJJRH should both have a solid place in the education of marketers in a digital world.

Neither of these books are earth-shattering, but they are both incredibly useful. When examined together, Youtility stands out as a theoretical blueprint. Baer offers many examples, but it’s up to the reader to determine how to translate his ideas into action in a specific business. JJJRH is a how-to manual for the most popular social networks. Vaynerchuk doesn’t get caught up in the why—he jumps right into the how. To use JJJRH’s metaphor, Youtility is teaching you how to develop a strategy for throwing consistent jabs, assuming that the right hook will be effective. JJJRH guides you from strategy to execution with simple, effective tips to tailor your content to each social platform (use hashtags correctly on Twitter, create a gorgeous branded image for many of your Facebook posts, don’t put ad-like images on Instagram, make GIFs for Tumblr). Each chapter ends with a handy checklist of questions to ask yourself before posting to that specific platform.

If you’re looking for real-life examples of social media marketing (as well as mobile app and web development, in Youtility) from both small and large businesses and nonprofits, these books should provide everything you need. JJJRH even juxtaposes the good with the bad.

I live and breathe social media every day at work, and I managed to find three distinct takeaways that require follow-up from Youtility, and two from JJJRH. Someone new to this space would likely have many more ah-ha moments. While reading JJJRH, I found myself making small tweaks to some of my employer’s social media posts, and making notes for future projects to create platform-specific content.


Anyone from any business should read Youtility, particularly small business owners. We need more businesses to think this way. In the hands of your web and content team, it could spark a revolution in how you approach content.

JJJRH would be great for three types of people: the social media managers that actually have responsibility for posts, marketing managers that oversee content production for social media, and the marketing manager who “just doesn’t get social.” JJJRH quickly explains what platforms are popular, with whom, and why they matter for your business. Simple, yet effective.


I always have a highlighter close by when I read. To give you an idea of the content I found most interesting in each book, here’s what I highlighted.

Youtility Highlights

  • Success flows to organizations that inform, not organizations that promote.
  • Youtility is marketing that’s wanted by customers. Youtility is massively useful information, provided for free, that creates long-term trust and kinship between your company and your customers.
  • For every ten of the potential customers you’re trying to reach with your messages, more than four don’t trust you.
  • “To really be a trusted enterprise, you need to focus on the more societal and engagement activities: transparency, employee engagement, listening to your customers, and putting them ahead of profits.” – Amy Treanor, VP, Edelman Square
  • The process of creating text, audio, video, and other online assets, and optimizing them to appear when prospective customers are ready to pull the trigger on a purchase has been coined “Inbound Marketing.” This isn’t new, but I thought it was a nice, concise definition.
  • As a marketer or business owner, the challenge is to understand that just because your customers and prospects are still using search engines doesn’t mean they are only using search engines, as was predominately the case in 2004.
  • Facebook’s attempt to marry search and social with its “Graph Search” feature is an early preview of how consumers may use relationships and common interests as key methods of seeking and finding information, goods, and services.
  • “All this social data we have, and all this web data, it has to be organized and it has to be sorted…network analysis of this type is like search, but without the query. It’s search in reverse.” – Rob Garner, VP, iCrossing
  • Stop trying to be amazing and start being useful.
  • Youtility doesn’t always require creating helpfulness from scratch. Taking what already exists and putting it in an inherently more helpful format can be just as effective.
  • We used to talk to a real person as a first step. To get familiar with the company. To learn more. To create bonds. Not now. Now we talk to a real person as a last resort when we’ve exhausted the supply of ZMOTs and have a query so specific only a human being can answer it.
  • “There are some verticals that have tended to be pioneers in providing online functionality, online information, and transparency. What happens is consumer expectations are being set by those front running experiences, and now they’re expecting those across all verticals, and a lot of companies are struggling with that.” – Gord Hotchekiss, search marketing strategist
  • Youtility consists of popping out from behind a tree to assist when necessary, then fading back into the woods to wait for the next opportunity.
  • There are three ways to provide real-time, circumstantial Youtility. The first is to be useful based on the customer’s location. The second is to be useful based on the customer’s situation. The last is to be useful based on seasonality or external factors.
  • “You have to empathize with your target audience in three ways. One, ‘How is it that they discover information?’ Two, ‘What are their preferences for consumption?,’ which drills down into channels, and devices and content types. Then the third thing is ‘What motivates them to take action?'” – Lee Odden, President, TopRank
  • “Not only are companies not doing customer research in terms of surveys or focus groups, but a lot of companies aren’t really even digging into the data that they’re sitting on. They’re sitting on gold mines of data about their customers, and I don’t even mean the ‘big data’ stuff, but just website analytics and social monitoring, let alone transaction and conversation data. They just aren’t doing nearly as much as they could be.” – Lee Odden, President, TopRank
  • “We recommend that businesses reimagine their content, but that they don’t recycle it.” – Ann Handley, author, Content Rules.
  • When you launch the app, or commence blogging, or begin to answer questions, you have not reached the finish line; you have reached the starting line.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook Highlights

  • Content is king, but context is God.
  • On Facebook, the definition of great content is not the content that makes the most sales, but the content that people most want to share with others.
  • [Facebook] is savvy enough to protect itself from you. It’s in Facebook’s best interest for you to put out great content. It wants to monetize, but if users start feeling like they’re being spammed every time they go to the site, Facebook will suffer.
  • Your Facebook community provides you with an automatic crap filter every time you send out your content for free.
  • Do not pretend to be cooler than you are. Do not be the guy who hollered out, “Raise the roof!” a year too late. That’s how it sounds when you use hashtags and trending topics as indiscriminate marketing tactics, instead of incorporating select ones into your conversation. Listen. Entertain, through humor or provocation.
  • While certain platforms may be more natural fits for certain types of brands, the only limit to what your brand can accomplish on any platform is your own creativity.
  • Any time you invite debate and discussion or introduce elements of fun and surprise to content, you increase your likelihood of not just making a connection, but building a relationship that leads to a sale.
  • Pinterest really gives small businesses and entrepreneurs the advantage over larger organizations, because their legal and PR departments haven’t smothered their personality.
  • Marketing is hard, and it keeps getting harder. But there’s no time to mourn the past or to feel sorry for ourselves, and there’s no point in self-pity anyway. It is our job as modern-day storytellers to adjust to the realities of the marketplace, because it sure as hell isn’t going to slow down for us.

Have you read Youtility or JJJRH? What did you think?

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