May 22, 2008
Content Analysis: Winelibrary TV
Before you read this, do me a favour and go to WinelibraryTV.com. Be prepared for a jet engine in your face. That blast of personality is Gary Vaynerchuk, a 32-year-old merchant who has made more than 450 daily wine-tasting shows online – just him, his glass and a spit bucket.
The show, with its audience of 80,000 a day, has transformed Vaynerchuk into a cultural phenomenon. He has appeared on two of the biggest TV talk shows in the US and in the Wall Street Journal and Time. His book, Gary Vaynerchuk’s 101 Wines, comes out next week and the day he announced this on his internet show, his fans immediately pushed it to No 36 on Amazon’s bestseller list. He has a Hollywood agent. He makes motivational speeches. And he has only just begun. Gary Vaynerchuk is on his way to becoming the online Oprah.
After reading this intriguing introduction, I immediately load the site. The episode at the top of the page is #467 – Some Wines At The Blue Ribbon. Not exactly the most descriptive of titles. I click play on the FlashBlock logo, and find that the video’s running length is sixteen minutes. This is an immediate turn-off, as I tend to avoid watching any streaming video longer than two minutes unless it’s attached to a convincing recommendation. I sure hope Gary thanked Jeff for his effective word-of-mouth marketing.
Jarvis wasn’t kidding about the jet-engine personality: Vaynerchuk is entertaining from the first second. His enthusiasm and sense of humour is immediately apparent. I’m surprised and impressed that his energy and charisma hasn’t dulled after 467 episodes. I watch with a smile on my face as Vaynerchuk talks rings around himself, but constantly returns to several central themes within the episode. It’s almost as if the actual wine-tasting process is secondary to the cult of personality that surrounds the site’s subject; intentional or not, this is the impression that I get.
Vaynerchuk’s concluding question of the day asks his viewers to respond with their favourite wine bar in the US. He specifically addresses casual viewers who are happy to watch without interacting:
Lurkers! Please answer! You’ve been watching my show and you haven’t left a comment! Can you do that? It’s free! Give it to me! Please! Because you, with a little bit of me, we’re changing the wine world. Whether they like it – or not.
A cute conclusion, and one that’s produced a reasonable return: at the time of writing, the video had 18,000 views and 250 text comments. Further exploration of the site reveals a spreadsheet maintained by a Vayniac that contains exhaustive data summaries on every wine Vaynerchuk has sampled – though it only contained the highest rating wine for this episode, wherein he tasted three.
Vaynerchuk’s impact on my life was non-existent until I decided on a whim to give him a chance after an impersonal recommendation from a person I respect. I’ve now become a casual devotee of the man. His blog contains short videos that discuss business development, marketing, and personal ethics. What’s remarkable about the site’s content is that I only have a passing interest in wine, yet I’m now compelled to watch and interact with Vaynerchuk.
This dude is the personification of the “good, open, free” edgeconomy model. His enthusiasm and winning attitude is contagious. I have a feeling that I’ll be following him for a long time.
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