Instagram has a shiny new toy.
It’s called Instagram Stories. The new feature lets you link together pictures and videos in a slideshow format.
At first I was so excited about it that I poured olive oil in my coffee. But once the caffeine kicked in, I realized that your stories only last for 24 hours.
I decided it’s not worth the time and resources to build an asset that’s only going to last a day. Maybe for a special campaign dedicated to my followers, but on Instagram I just don’t have that many followers.
The Social Media Blues
In general I’ve been feeling a lot of angst over social media these days. Blog posts and YouTube videos can accumulate followers over the course of several months and years, but is it worth sending out a tweet with a half-life of 20 minutes? Or even a Facebook post that nobody’s going to see after a day or two?
Then I saw a Gary Vaynerchuck speech that made me rethink my strategy. (If you don’t mind his frequent use of the F– word, this 37-minute speech is worth watching). Gary turned his parents’ mom-and-pop liquor store it into a multi-million dollar enterprise.
There was bleeding along the way. In the 1990s, he attempted to sell wine on the internet. (If you’re under 35, you’ll have to listen to Vaynerchuck’s expletive-riddled speech to appreciate the gravity of this.) He may have built one of the world’s first shopping carts.
The website cost him $15,000 and only generated $800 in sales the first year.
But as the internet picked up traction, Vaynerchuck was already established. He was a pioneer, and he’ll tell you that pioneers always win.
In The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (a must-read for every entrepreneur), the very first rule is to be the first at something. Being first is the “unique” part of a “unique sales proposition” (USP).
Eventually another company will come along and do it better, faster, and cheaper. But you’ll still be ahead if your company name is synonymous with the thing you did first.
This brings me back to Vaynerchuck. Whenever there’s a new platform, software, or any other means of sharing a message with an audience, Gary Vaynerchuck will stay up all night to figure it out. (You can almost hear in his voice that he probably gets too much caffeine and not enough sleep.)
In a podcast last May, he talked about Snapchat being the next big thing, and all the great things that would happen to a person who carved out their territory on Snapchat before anyone else was doing it. He said similar things about Instagram, and that was long before they unveiled Instagram Stories.
Maybe he’ll be right. But remember his early ecommerce experiment cost the family business over $14,000 the first year. He also talks spending 41 sleepless nights trying to figure out a platform I’ve never heard about. His whole point is that he’ll be right about some of these platforms.
What I’m trying to do is hand you a treasure map. Here there be monsters. If you’ve got the energy to play around with the scores of new platforms that pop up every year, you’ll probably lose both sleep and money in large amounts.
But you could also strike it rich before the end of your career.