Practical Advice on Social Media Marketing for Freelance Writers from Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right HookBack in December 2015, I got two nudges to read Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. One was hearing Gary Vaynerchuk speak at Ryan Moran’s Freedom Fast Lane Live event. Dude’s exhausting – but also brilliant and bold. And he’s from New Jersey, so he knows his pizza, and that makes him almost my brother. (Don’t even get me started on the sad substitute that is available anywhere but there. It gets ugly.)

The second nudge was that Travis Sago also spoke at the event, and he said something from stage that I’d heard back in 2008 and cried about… and then Pat Flynn said the same freaking thing. I didn’t cry this time, because I’d known it was just a matter of time before I’d choose to take action on this bit of counsel.

You Be Nice!

[I can’t hear that without hearing this: ]

What all these guys said basically amounted to me schlepping outside of my comfort zone to be more sociable. Talk to the people. Connect with them. That’s the best way to help them, to make an impact. You can’t hang out as a complete hermit all the time – and social media is a great way to venture forth. Oh, and get on the phone. That’s another story.

Not that I’m not nice. It’s just that I’m far more charming in writing than in person. Anyway.

Back To Social Media

It’s always been a total pain in the butt to me. So, of course, when freelance writing clients have asked for help with their social media marketing, I didn’t want to touch that with a ten-foot pole. Still don’t.

Airkooled Kustoms GhiaExcept for one client, my husband-like being. He owns Airkooled Kustoms, a custom classic car company (restoring early Porsches and Volkswagens). There’s also a line of branded gear that’s  If I were going to learn this stuff to serve any client, it would have to be the one who built me a 1959 VW Beetle Ragtop. Sounds fair, right? Award-winning car in exchange for help in the shop’s total worldwide domination marketing plan? Plus, the shop’s already done a fantastic job of building a social media presence – way better than most companies, and certainly better than I’d ever have guessed a car restoration shop would do (before I met them).

Also, with the re-launch of my Working Writer, Happy Writer and Freelance Writers Bootcamp courses, this time, I actually wanted to connect more with folks on those course’s social media pages.

Part of my hesitancy in doing social media for clients is that I believe it’s essential to know a business inside and out, eating, living, and breathing that business until I know it well enough to represent it on social media. This is much more than writing traffic-generating blurbs to accompany blog posts (my firm does that for our clients who order blogs each month). But after a few years here at the shop, I knew I could contribute to its social media presence. So, I picked up Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. 

How To Do Social Media That Sucks… In A Good Way

This brings us to Gary V’s book. It’s got two major takeaways. First, rather than pummeling your prospects and customers with sales message after sales message (right hooks), put the bulk of your efforts into sucking them into your orbit, building engagement and giving them a moment of delight (jabs). See where the title Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook came from? Second, don’t waste your time and effort on social media if you don’t have a clue how to do it right.

If you’ve ever wished someone would just make a guide to the major social media platforms and lay out what works and what doesn’t work, this is that guide. Gary gives multiple examples of good and bad social media efforts, and offers a post-mortem on each so you can get a real picture of what best practices look like now. There are also checklists for each platform, so you can make sure every post you make has the best shot possible at giving your followers some value in exchange for their attention.

Social Media Tips And Tidbits

Here are some of the major quotes and bits of advice that I marked up in Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook (and am in the process of implementing):

  • For every business, the “number-one job is to tell your story”.
  • “People want to be social wherever they consume their media… every platform should be treated as a social networking platform.”
  • Make your posts blend – but not in an invisible way, more like they belong there, they’re not irritating to the people you’re hoping to be social with.
  • Jab enough times (give and give and give) that when you’re ready to throw a right hook, that hook will show up on enough feeds of people who are with you to make it worthwhile.
  • Embrace the fact that these sites are in constant flux. What works today might not work tomorrow. You’re going to have to make the effort to stay on top of what’s changing. No whining. It’ll put hair on your chest. (Anyone else’s dad always say stuff like that?!)
  • Don’t live in a bubble; your fans and prospects don’t. Join in the conversation others are already having. Listen to the online discussion; it’s easier to join a conversation in progress than to try launching a whole new trending topic.

The book was published in 2013, so some of the references are already a bit outdated, but that obsolescence probably happened three minutes after the book went to print. Not a problem; the numbers have all gone up, the categorizations of what kinds of people flock to which social media platform hold true, and the advice is timeless.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right HookSocial Media Platforms – The Basics

Speaking of demographics, this was helpful for me in helping plan what we’d do for each platform. Here’s a brief run-down of each site’s feel and what works best there. (Note, I’m not going into LinkedIn. It’s not covered in the book, and I don’t really like it there much (pretty sure it’s not supposed to be a dating site, right?).)


Artsy, young, loves GIFs.

  • Has themes you can customize; you can also have sub-interest boards. Link! Best for jabs, but can give the occasional hook. (Note to self: Pay teenaged spawn teach me how to build a Tumblr.)
  • Checklist:
    • Customized theme fits your brand?
    • GIF, GIF, GIF. (I’m using the Boomerang app on my iPhone to make GIFs at the shop.)


Tilts young and indie.

  • Owned by Facebook. In 2013, photos there generated 1,000 per second. A closed loop, meaning no linking or sharing. But still… TONS of people on here and worth the effort. Hashtag like mad (5-10 per image, yo.)
  • Checklist:
    • Artsy and indie enough?
    • Got hashtags?
    • Young enough?


  • Skews female, loves photos… gorgeous photos.
    • You should create multiple boards featuring different parts of your business.
  • Checklist:
    • How’s that picture? Aspirational and inspirational?
    • Name your boards well.
    • Pinning a product you sell? Include the price.
    • Hyperlink all photos.
    • Would this picture look right in a high-end magazine?
    • Categorize every image.


Leans urban and ironic, loves hashtags.

  • Twitter owns Vine (and Periscope, which is a development newer than the book). You can check out what’s trending and give your spin on it (hashtags) – see where you can connect dots of interest. Don’t RT nice stuff people say about you; that’s lame. Welcome new followers.
  • Checklist:
    • Is your tweet to the point?
    • Good hashtags?
    • Excellent image?
    • Good match for the tone of Twitter?


Everyone’s there (well, some Millenials are leaving now that their parents are there – they’re going to Instagram and SnapChat).

  • In 2013, one of every FIVE page views in the USA was on Facebook.
  • Checklist:
    • Is the text too long?
    • Is it attention-grabbing and engaging?
    • Great photo?
    • Visible logo?
    • CTA in the right spot and crafted well?
    • Will anyone find this interesting?
    • Is it a jab or a hook?
  • Sponsored stories: There are two types. One spreads your content to more of your fans (rather than the usual 3-5% who’d normally see it naturally). The other spreads your reach the same way but also indicates that your fans have engaged with it – and that can extend your post to that fan’s friends.
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

Our Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook Inspired Plan

New Stuff We’ll Post On Social Media
Because Of Gary V’s Book

The shop’s been really good about posting what we call Dub and Porsche Porn – shots of vehicles so tight and glossy and gorgeous that car fans might stop and stare at their screens for inappropriate intervals of time. They also post images of the krew working and pics of projects in process. For my writing business and course, there’s not really much of an equivalent. A pen? A keyboard or typewriter? Meh.

There’s so much more both of us can post. Here’s a list of what’s in the works, because it’s a good fit for the businesses and for their fans:

Airkooled Kustoms

  • Lifestyle shots, like a wind-blown driver grinning like a kid on a drive with the top down
  • Black and white shots (perhaps creatively tinted)
  • Figure out ways to gamify images (tag who you think wants this…)
  • Philosophical riddles might work well with our pics
  • Do Vines and GIFs in addition to the Periscope broadcasts we’re already doing most days.
  • Pinterest, create boards about some of the tangiential interests of the shop: evil cookies, scenic rides where you could cruise in your classic car, music, dogs, BACON, dream garages, rust, that kind of thing.

Working Writer, Happy Writer

  • Lots of the same additions (but tweaked) as for AKK
  • On Pinterest, create boards other than just quotes about writing. Like, how about coffee, places to write, music to write to, bacon or SCOTCH, that kind of stuff that isn’t directly connected to writing, but that I enjoy as a writer.
  • See where else it makes sense to build a presence. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Social Media Marketing Pointers
in Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

For each social media platform, there’s a unique set of best practices. But there are also some bits of advice that’ll work across all platforms. Here are a few:

  • Don’t repeat the text in your artwork as your status update. (Guilty!)
  • If you’ve got an image (and if it’s possible, you should!), make sure it’s gorgeous. Ask yourself, “If I saw this image, would I share it?” (This applies to every site covered in Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.)
  • Show the humans in your business. They have birthdays, idiosyncracies, milestones – people want to do business with people.
  • People care about real life and mundane stuff, too – like weather, food, pop culture. Have that conversation as well.
  • Logo every image so someone can use it to find your page. You can also use your slogan as your logo.
  • Only one call to action per post.
  • Look at the content assets you’ve already got, and see if there’s something fun and engaging.
  • Comment on other brands’ news. Give informed opinions, your take on an update.
  • Check your links. Seriously.
  • Link to pages other than your Home page every. single. time. If you want a follower to see something in particular (your product, a blog post, whatever), link to THAT (duh).

Gary Vaynerchuk Saved The Best Bit For Last

I’ve read and heard this other places before in some form or another, but it’s important enough to make sure you get this bit, too. Even though your business (or your client’s) sells a product or service, at its core, every company is in the problem-solving business.

The best way to promote our solutions is to adopt this possibly-strange perspective: No matter what business you’re in, your business is first and foremost a media company. Marketing is all about telling your story, telling the story of the people you help, painting a picture of the points where your solution, business, and people intersect with the bigger world.

Who Should Read Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook?

Here’s who I think will benefit most from reading Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook:

  • If you’re a business owner or marketing manager looking to build a strong foundation on social media – or even hoping to understand the basics of what each site’s about and how to use it.
  • If you’re a freelance writer whose clients are asking for help with social media marketing or creating content for them to use in their own marketing campaign.
  • If you’re an author looking to build a following so your books reach a bigger audience when you publish.

I hope this is helpful information for you. It’s been a great read, and an excellent choice for the first meaty book of this year’s reading list for me.

Buy Jab, Jab, Jab, Right HookJab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

Here’s my Amazon affiliate link for Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. If you buy through my link, Amazon will send me a few cents, haha. Unless you also go in and buy something like a set of tires or an above-ground pool. Then the commission will be enough to buy some bacon… or good scotch.

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