The Nonprofit Bookshelf: 5 Takeaways from Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook


What makes a good story or a good storyteller? How do you choose your audience? And, once you have an audience, how do you captivate them? These are questions that we assume many writers, directors, and other creatives ask themselves every day. They’re also questions that we ask ourselves here at Whole Whale, and they’re questions that you should be asking within your organization as well. Everyone has a story, and those shared by nonprofits and social impact organizations are some of the most important. You already have the passion, and the cause — now you need to tell your story. In his book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, marketing powerhouse Gary Vaynerchuk (of VaynerMedia) shows you how.
Although it may seem like Vaynerchuk speaks directly to for-profit companies looking to make the sale, the wisdom of this read also applies to the nonprofit world. Just like any for-profit company, for-benefit organizations are seeking to engage customers, tell a story, and make a convincing call to action. Vaynerchuk’s digital marketing tactics not only teach us how to tell good stories, they also teach us how to tell good stories in the digital age, and how to use social media to land the best “right hook” that we possibly can. So break out your gloves and read on for Whole Whale’s 5 takeaways from Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.
How can nonprofits use social media in a way that's, you know, *good*? 5 ideas from @garyvee's #JabJabJabRightHook. #NonprofitBookshelf Share on X

1. Become your own media company

Published in 2013, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is based on the argument that we can no longer afford to underestimate social media. Social media has altered the way that we live almost every part of our lives, and business can’t be done without it anymore. Neither can nonprofit work: Donors and other supporters use smartphones, too, and in order to have real impact we have to meet them on these platforms.

Social media has had such a drastic effect on the marketing industry because it shifted the power from media companies to the public. Consumers control when and how they receive “right hooks,” and they can demand exactly the kind of content that they want, before they take the action that you want. The accessibility (and affordability) of social media also allows nonprofits to bypass media middlemen and take charge of their own marketing efforts. According to Vaynerchuk, these days every organization can (and should) be their own media company.

2. Do as the Romans do

Assuming that you already believe in the power of social media, you should also consider whether your organization uses these platforms appropriately — and to the greatest possible benefit.

The key to telling a successful story is in the content, but the same content can’t be posted on every single social media site. Vaynerchuk stresses the importance of understanding and producing native content, or content that corresponds to the design and function of the platform it lives on. You wouldn’t put the same post on both Twitter and Instagram, Vaynerchuk reasons, because the “stories told through pictures on Instagram won’t resonate the same way when told in an identical manner” on Twitter or on another site; successful stories have to adapt to the native language of each unique platform. When looking at each of your major social media platforms, consider the details that vary between each one, including authenticity of voice, text length, image quality, layout, and the placement of calls to action. Note: Since JJJRH was written in 2013, the focus here is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr — though this mindset is mappable onto Snapchat as well as whatever platform comes next, whether it’s Gryzzl or Friendface.

3. Stay on trend

Social media is so compelling because it lives and breathes, changing constantly to reflect new ideas, events, products, and technology. Once you’ve mastered the language of each platform, make it a practice to actively listen to what the platform is saying. Almost every social media site allows us to see and participate in overarching trends so you can take advantage of this knowledge and respond promptly to major pop culture moments or current social or political situations.
Social media lives and breathes –– @garyvee teaches us how to listen to what the platform is saying in #JabJabJabRightHook #NonprofitBookshelf Share on X
By putting out informed, contextualized content, you can increase your organization’s relevance to current events and benefit from the traffic of different trends. Staying on top of trends and identifying the best opportunities for action requires the constant vigilance of your content team. While this might seem like extreme effort, capitalizing on relevant cultural events can lead to huge payoffs in reach, donor conversions, donor retention, and other important aspects of your marketing strategy.

4. Micro-content is king

It’s all in Vaynerchuk’s title: Your social media marketing efforts should be a short, swift, and calculated jab, jab, and jab, followed by that right hook. The brevity of social media content is one of the reasons that people like it so much, which makes learning how to create micro-content more important than you may realize.

Short, memorable content is fundamental to the success of your organization’s social media outreach. In keeping with this, you’ll want to be intentional about what you say and how much space you need to say it. This benefits you, the content creator, because it means that you don’t always need to find the money or time to host large fundraising events or campaigns. You can keep the drumbeat going by engaging with your donors and followers on a daily basis, and all it takes is two sentences on Twitter.

5. Be human

Perhaps the biggest benefit that social media can offer the nonprofit world is the chance to be human. If you interact with your follows correctly, you have the opportunity to humanize yourself, your organization, and your cause. The drive to do good already lends itself to emotionally-driven content, allowing you to capitalize on your organization’s ability to connect further on social platforms.

Use social media to interact like a person. Communicating in relaxed and relatable ways is less off-putting (and largely preferred) on these types of sites, where users are already primed to be social and connect with their family and friends. Your engagement with donors and followers should always feel more like a personal relationship than a marketing scheme, and social media allows you to remind your audiences that there’s a human behind the curtain — and behind every good cause.
Just be human – use social media to interact like a person (even though you're a business). From @garyvee's #JabJabJabRightHook #NonprofitBookshelf Share on X
What book should we read next at Whole Whale? Tweet us your recommendations @WholeWhale with the hashtag #NonprofitBookshelf!


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