Mari Smith, Social Media Influencer
Relationship Media: Exploring the depths of Social Marketing with Mari Smith
Becoming one of the world’s most influential people on social media is no small feat. Author and entrepreneur Mari Smith explains that it comes down to a love of technology, and above all, a love of people.
It’d be an understatement to say that social media has fundamentally changed how we communicate and ultimately do business around the world. Some people have a natural flair for it, others have to be trained. Mari Smith is one of the former. Widely recognized as the top Facebook marketing expert in the world, Mari Smith is the coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day and lead author of The Relationship Age, a collection of strategies from leading social media experts to help users navigate the world of social media. Smith is a relationship marketing specialist among the world’s foremost experts on using Facebook as a marketing channel.
She is a Forbes top 10 Social Media Influencer and travels the world to deliver keynote speeches and trains businesses on how to use social media. Speaking exclusively with Foundr, it’s easy to see how Mari Smith has thrived on social media: her warm personality and her value of people underpins her every sentence.
Once a softly-spoken girl, Smith was shy to the point of disliking to read aloud in class. However Mari Smith now makes a living as an entrepreneur with a consulting and training business from her home in San Diego, and is a successful public speaker sharing the stage with names like Sir Richard Branson, Tony Robbins and the Dalai Lama. “Sometimes I literally have to pinch myself,” she says with a rich and mellow laugh. “Am I really living the American dream? How did I get here?”
Speaking with a sonorously intoned voice, Smith’s accent is hard to pick. She was born in Canada to Scottish parents. When she was 12, her parents separated in a time that Smith describes as the most difficult of her life. Accompanying her father back to Scotland with her sisters, she remained there for the next 20 years, before coming to San Diego in ’99. Despite knowing only one person in California, she explains the move was “one of those defining moments in life.” Armed with 50 British pounds in her pocket and knowing only one person, Smith relied on the “sheer determination” that would characterize the rest of her career. Within six weeks, she’d found an immigration attorney, a sponsor, and “a whole new network of people.” That experience served as a cornerstone to her entrepreneurial future.
When she arrived in the United States, Smith had no prior experience of running a business. “But the common themes in various jobs in sales or marketing or public speaking was my love of people and my love of technology.” A union created in social media heaven.
Flashing a megawatt smile, Smith admits, “A long time ago, I used to build websites, programming and coding.” But despite being a technological adept, her first love was “people and the psychology of what makes people tick.”
However, when describing the lead up to her first experience with Facebook, Smith explains that her love of social media site was not a foregone conclusion. “I thought, ‘Oh man, not another online social networking site’. I’m on LinkedIn, Myspace, forget it. I thought: ‘what is this Facebook thing?’” However, when she first opened Facebook.com, all her doubts dissolved. “It was like the angels were singing,” she laughs. “I thought something magical was happening.” And that was before Facebook had hit their first hundred million users.
Of course, every man woman and child has a Facebook account now and it’s often hard to remember the excitement that accompanied its inception. But the thing that really stood out to Smith was that “I realized that I could reach out and befriend people whom I long admired. People whose books I read, whose seminars I attended and whose email newsletters I was on. All of the middle people were removed; no secretaries or gatekeepers.”
That instance fuelled her passion and excitement “which has not really waned over the last 7 years. I’m still an evangelist for the site.”
Now fast forward, Mari Smith is a Forbes top 10 social media power influencer. She explains her rise coming down to two attributes: focus and consistency. When it comes to focus, Smith’s career is a lesson in single-mindedness and determination. “I like to think of it as going a mile deep and an inch wide.” When it comes to business strategy, Smith strongly advises against generalization. “If you specialize deeply in a single area, you’ll attract more attention, more business, more buzz.”
Smith is also the very model of consistency. The crown of social media influencer wasn’t won by posting at sporadic intervals. “You’ve got to post everyday.” If you think that sounds like a stretch, Smith agrees that at times it can be hard work keeping up, and mentions scheduling tools as a saving grace.
Challenging the notion of traditional marketing, Smith likes to avoid marketing focused on a single transaction. “Most marketing is transactional focused. Get the sale, close the deal, and move on. Whereas relationship marketing is relational-focused. It’s about the long-term value of a customer.”
The idea that people do business with people they know, like and trust predates currency. However, transforming that into the online space is not something that comes naturally to most businesses.
“You keep adding value, engaging with your audience, and building community. It may take a year before a user becomes a client. The focus is on building relationships which ultimately creates social equity. Eventually that translates to dollars in the bank.” In essence, this strategy bears similarities to content marketing. However, expounding on the relationship between the two, Smith shares a favourite saying: “Content is king and engagement is queen, but she rules the house.” The key differentiator is that relationship marketing focuses on the engagement. From a business standpoint, content is rendered useless if no one is reading or responding to it.
According to Smith, online businesses need to jettison more traditional push marketing methods, and instead freely offer content and encourage engagement with a less obvious drive to convert traffic to sales. However, even in relationship marketing, the conversion step is crucial. Periodically putting out a call to action asking for a sale is a fine art. The trick is not to overdo it. “80 to 90 percent of time, you are just sharing great content.” And then “10 to 20 percent of time, you’re interspersing that value adding content with invitations to do business with you, sign-up for a free report or free webinar.”
“There’s a massive cacophony out there,” Smith says, “it’s really a very busy online world and it keeps doubling, tripling and quadrupling, and every time you turn around there’s more information coming at you like a fire hose.” However, Smith turned this content saturation to her advantage. “I made a name for myself as being someone who is very particular about the content that I share,” and this was a “major factor to my own success in building a presence online.” Smith claims she frequently shares other people’s content after a thorough screening and filtering process, coupled with content of her own.
Yet for those struggling with the time commitment necessary to maintain an active and healthy social media presence, Smith is reassuring. “Up until a couple of years ago, I was spending up to two hours a day finding great content, crafting the tweets, scheduling it into HootSuite and then in addition, answering questions on my fan page.” But now delegation is the key to success. “Content curation is one of the first things I suggest and recommend to people that they delegate.” Smith recommends that if you do delegate, keep a tight rein on your own voice and personal brand, and monitor every post.
Social platforms come and go, and for a new business, it can be puzzling to decide which one to focus time and energy on. So when it comes to growing a social presence, what platforms will stand the test of time? Smith’s advice is to start with Twitter. “It’s easier to get your head up around and much easier to grow a following.” She continues: “every local business would do well to have an active Twitter presence. Once you have your twitter activity, then add Facebook. Then when you have some systems, even with the help of a social media assistant a couple of hours a week, you can add on whatever else makes sense: Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest.” However she warns, “but don’t try to do it all. It’s not possible. You’ll end up going crazy.”
If you’re a Facebook aficionado, you may be curious about algorithm change. Your page’s reach is nowhere near what it used to be. To have that same reach you once enjoyed, paid advertising is necessary. In light of that, it’s not uncommon to hear murmurs from entrepreneurs about giving up on Facebook and channelling their energies into their email list, simply because it can be controlled. However Smith reminds us: “Facebook is a rented land.” Instead of giving up on Facebook and moving to email, “you want to do both. Keep an active presence on Facebook and build your email list.”
She rationalizes having an active presence on Facebook “even if you’re getting a 1 percent reach organically”, simply because “Facebook is the number one social network, with 1.2 billion active users, 75 percent with their mobile devices, it has become an ingrained daily habit. So you’ve got to have a presence, you’ve got to have a page. The second reason is that Facebook is the second most traffic website next only to Google. And Facebook pages are fully indexed on Google.”
Smith explains that if you have a good content and a keyword-rich bio on your ‘about’ section, your Facebook page can rank high in search results. “Even if you’ve got very little engagement or few fans on your page, it doesn’t matter.”
Social media has created a fundamental paradigm shift of how we communicate as human beings, which ultimately impacts on how we do business. “There’s no going back. We will never return to a society that does one way push marketing and ignores the needs and wants and voice of the consumer.”
So, in an age of disposable messages in a flood of nonstop content, what does she see as timeless and enduring? Smith argues that it comes back to inclusivity. “When you have a mindset of inclusivity, of involving and including our market place more, our audience, our current customers, that is timeless. Valuing people is timeless. You need a powerful corporate culture that is absolutely focused on brilliant customer service, so it’s all about the customer. You put the customers at the center, you can’t go wrong. The more you value people, the more successful you’ll be.”
EXPAND YOUR TOOLKIT: 12 ESSENTIAL TOOLS EVERY SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR NEEDS.
Mari Smith recommends her favourite apps and programs that have assisted in her rise to become one of the most influential social media users on the internet.
- Hootsuite. Primary twitter scheduler. Load up a week’s worth of tweets, select the tweet times and then forget about them.
- Manage Flitter. A twitter optimization suite of tools. Manage your following, grow your following and proactively reach out to people.
- Social Bakers. Based out of Prague in the Czech Republic, they are a social media analytics company providing analytics tools for all platforms including Facebook, Twitter Google+, and LinkedIn.
- Pocket. Formerly called Read Later. Save things to pocket, then your social media manager can see what you’ve bookmarked, load them up as tweets and put them into HootSuite.
- Photo pin. Allows you to search Flickr creative commons. Take an image from Flickr, add some wording, and then when you post or share it somewhere you give credit to the original photographer or image creator.
- Facebook scheduler. Schedule your Facebook posts. Much more efficient than HootSuite when it comes to Facebook.
- Google+. Okay, so this is a platform of its own, but it’s crucial to have an active profile on Google+ because Google owns search and that sets the bottom line. If you want better SEO, get some content, and put it on Google+.
- Wordswag. A beautiful and simple to use app which allows you to use their images or your own to create gorgeous visual content with a range of fonts.
- Canva. A very simple graphic design tool to add some class to any online content. Very cool.
- Picmonkey. Another easy-to-use tool that allows users to create beautiful-looking visual content to share over all social media platforms.
- Content Gems. Content marketing made simple. A content curation tool that helps you find, create and curate quality content.
- Spundge. Another content curation tool. Aids in creating, delivering and monetizing content. Put in keywords, key phrases, it will troll the internet and find related quality content.
- Mari talks about how she started as a Social Media Influencer
- Learn about the definition and importance of relationship marketing
- The difference between content marketing and relationship marketing
- The importance of reading and finding great content
- Mari gives her advice to people who want to grow their social presence
- Mari’s advice to struggling entrepreneurs
Full Transcript of the Podcast with Mari Smith
Nathan: Hello and welcome to the Foundr podcast. My name is Nathan Chan, and I’m your host. Today, we’ve got a really cool guest, Mari Smith. She’s a social media superstar, massive, massive following. She’s rated as a top 10 Forbes Influencer in Social Media, and she really, really knows her stuff. So today, we’ll be talking with her around, really, evergreen kind of strategies to really use social media as a tool to grow your business, get more sales, get more leads and build more relationships with your customers.
And what do I mean by evergreen? I mean stuff that doesn’t get old because social media is, it moves at such a fast pace. So I thought we’re gonna do this interview with Mari. I need to talk to her about the core fundamental basics of what it takes to build a thriving community over social media, connect with your audience, and yeah, really grow your business.
And there’s a lot of gold in this interview. I’m really excited to share it with you. So, just a quick one from me, what’s been happening in my world. Not sure if you’re interested, but I just thought I’d share with you because it makes things a little more interesting and it just shows you that I’m a human being living the dream, having a good time just like you, trying to get ahead. So, the past week, I’ve been in India. Me and my girlfriend, we went to India to go to my graphic designer of the magazine’s wedding. It was a really, really cool experience. I’ve never actually met him in person before, except when we went to India. So he’s from India and lives in Delhi, and we went to a town called Chennai which is a resort.
And if you know nothing about Indian weddings, they are just absolutely crazy. And it was such an awesome experience to meet with somebody that you’ve worked with online for two years, he’s a freelancer, Ekaran, my designer. He is just an absolute rock star, such a cool guy. And it was just, yeah, really, really great feeling to just meet someone like a penpal that you’ve known for so long and really get to know his family and celebrate his wedding. So, that’s what’s been happening in my world preparing for 2015, got some big things planned for this podcast, the magazine, the Foundr brand.
So if you’re enjoying this podcast, please make sure you leave us a review, it really, really helps. Tell your friends, spread the word, check out the magazine. Get in contact with me if you need help with absolutely anything, I’m here to help, [email protected] Now, let’s jump into today’s show.
Today I’m speaking with Mari Smith. Mari is a relationship marketing specialist and one of the world’s foremost experts on using Facebook as a marketing channel. She’s a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Influencer and travels the world to deliver keynote speeches and train businesses on how to use social media. So Mari, I just want to say thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.
Mari: Truly my pleasure, Nathan. It’s a delight to be here and we really do have a global connection here because I’m in sunny San Diego, California, and you are in Melbourne, you said, right?
Nathan: Yeah, Melbourne.
Mari: Australia. I love it. It’s awesome.
Nathan: Yeah. It’s really cool how the internet allows these kinds of things to be possible.
Mari: Indeed, I absolutely agree. Yeah, yeah. And social media, in particular, you know, we’re gonna talk about that in a bit here, but social media has fundamentally changed how we communicate and ultimately do business around the world.
Nathan: Yeah, yeah. I know it’s amazing the way we’re living today where technology’s changing the game.
Mari: Correct, it sure is.
Nathan: So, I just want to know how did you get your job?
Mari: I invented it. I absolutely invented it. I love that question, Nathan. I love it. You know, it’s interesting, I love talking about my story. It’s just sometimes I literally have to pinch myself at times and go, “Oh my God, am I really living the American dream here? How did I get here? How did I land to where I am today?” You know, I was born in Canada to Scottish parents. My parents are 100% Scottish and when I was 12, my dad went back to Scotland with my sisters and I. And I lived in Scotland for the next 20 years and then I came to San Diego in ’99 flat broke, and I knew one person here, it was just one of those defining moments in life where I knew, I just absolutely knew in every cell of my body I was supposed to come to San Diego, California and start a whole new life.
And I had 50 British pounds in my pocket, and I knew this one person but I had sheer determination and so I just knew, like I said, I was supposed to be here. Within a very, very short period of time, probably about six weeks, I’d found an immigration attorney and someone who sponsored me and a whole new network of people. And from there, just continued on to grow and become an entrepreneur over the years.
The interesting thing as I look back throughout my career, the whole time I was in Scotland, I was an employee, I never run my own business until I came to the United States in ’99. But this common theme throughout the various jobs I’ve had in sales or marketing or public speaking, the common theme has been my love of people and my love of technology.
So when social media landed in my lap in 2007, I got invited to be on a beta test team of a Facebook app and I just fell in love with Facebook, it was another defining moment in my life. And I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is a culmination, this is like a fusion of my two passions, people, and technology,” and so I joke about being an overnight success, 10 years in the making.
Nathan: Well. So you mentioned that you were a beta tester for Facebook.
Mari: For an app, it’s a third-party app company, is an app called Podclass. At podclass.com, you can take and teach courses. And so, this friend of mine asked me to test out the app, it was in 2007, Facebook had not long opened its API for developers to be able to have these apps that would sit on the Facebook platform. So this friend of mine, actually it was a friend of a friend that I ended up getting introduce this person and tested out the PodClass and created a course, actually, teaching people how to use Facebook. Within a short, short period of time, I just had such a natural flair for technology and I used to build websites, used to do a little bit programming and coding a long time ago. And then just my real love and understanding of people and just the psychology of what makes people tick, and Facebook was just this perfect vehicle through which we could build these relationships and connect with people.
But yeah, that’s how it started, was with this app, this Facebook app called Podclass. I was a bit of a holdout, I gotta be honest I was like, “Oh man, not another online social network,” you know, I’m on LinkedIn and Rise, Ecademy, MySpace, forget it. My head would hurt every time I went to MySpace. I was like, “What is this Facebook thing? Okay, I’ll check it out, I’ll try it. You want me to test your app? All right, I’ll test your app.” But I just knew I pulled up facebook.com and I…you know, the angels were singing. I thought something magical is happening here. This is before they’d reached their first 100 million. They had something like 75 million net users at the time.
Nathan: Yeah, I know. I think around 2007 was when I started using Facebook. So yeah, I think it’s hard to actually come over here and people were stopping using MySpace and stuff like that. So I’m curious, what happened next or after you found that love that you have now?
Mari: Yeah, well, I just was such an evangelist for it. And it kinda cast my mind back to the back in the day. Probably, it was kind of the early to mid-90s when AOL, America Online, you used to get those CDs in the mail, you might not remember that but it was like you got internet and you got an AOL account, and there was this little chime that would say, “You’ve Got Mail,” in fact I think there was a movie called that, and this little chime would go, “You’ve got mail,” and people would get so excited. Well, fast forward to 2007, what was happening is like it was a very similar experience that the whole internet, or the whole online world, early adopters were having the sensation of they’d get on to Facebook and they could friend people, they add people as friends. And it was like, there wasn’t an audible chime or alert saying, “You’ve got a friend,” but it was like that. It was like you’d go to Facebook, “Oh my God, I’ve got another friend.”
And what happened, what really fueled my excitement within a few short weeks is that I realized that I could reach out and befriend people who I had long admired, people whose books I read, whose seminars attended, whose, you know, email newsletters I was on. People, leaders, authors and leaders that I had long wanted to connect with. And now all of a sudden, all of the middle people have been removed, there’s no secretaries, administrators, you know, people gatekeepers. It’s like I’m instantly connecting with people directly and I decided to interview them. I actually created a whole program with about 25 interviews of leaders and discussed with them how they were using Facebook. And I reached them all through Facebook and they were short interviews, like 15 minutes long.
You know, one guy, I remember, and a very, very successful Internet marketer, he said to me point blank, it’s like, “You know, Mari, we would not be having this conversation if you had tried to reach me any other way, I have like three gatekeepers.” And because you reached out to me through Facebook, you know, right now back in the day, people were really excited and responding to their emails, you know, I responded because you contacted me through Facebook and I’m excited about it. It just kept fueling my passion and excitement which has not really waned over the last, gosh, seven years of…I’m just still an evangelist for the site.
Nathan: Wow. So if we fast forward to now, you’re top, Forbes Top 10 Social Media Influencer. I’m curious, how did you get to that in seven years?
Mari: Every single year, I choose a one-word theme for my year. And in 2007, my theme was, “Focus.” And I like to use the word, “FOCUS,” as an acronym which is Follow One Course Until Successful. And I did not deviate from that path. I didn’t…I’d say, “Oh, by the way, I do a little bit of this and I do a little bit of that,” I became a specialist. I like to think of it as going a mile deep in and an inch wide. What a lot of people try to do in business is they go too broad, they’re more of a generalist than a specialist and they’ll go a mile wide and an inch deep. Well, here’s the thing if you specialize really deeply in a topic, in a subject matter, you’re gonna attract more attention, more business, more buzz.
The second thing is consistency. You’ve just absolutely got to be consistent. And this has never wavered, and since social media has become so prevalent, you can’t really “afford” to put up a post on Facebook or Twitter, any of the social networks, you know, every now and again when you feel like it. You’ve got to post every day and maybe take a day or two off here and there. Fortunately, you can use scheduling tools, we can talk about those in a moment. But that’s really, I would say, Nathan, that’s the two, that focus and consistency. I’ve never wavered in seven years. Fortunately, my passion hasn’t wavered either, there’s occasionally times I’m like, “God, this is hard work keeping up with it all,” but I still love it.
Nathan: Yeah, look, I can imagine, especially when it comes to Facebook because it’s always constantly changing, things are always happening. Now, I’d like to delve into that a little bit later, but I’m curious. Let’s switch gears and talk about relationship marketing, what does that mean?
Mari: So I wrote “Facebook Marketing” and co-authored to “Facebook Marketing” in our day was Chris Treadaway and my publisher’s Wiley, they had come to me back in 2009, 2010/11, we did a version 2 in there. But for the longest time, I had a moniker where I would call myself, my tagline was, Relationship Marketing Specialist because, to me, relationship marketing transcends the medium. It doesn’t matter whether you’re face to face or you’re doing it through email, public speaking, Facebook, Twitter, you name it. To me, it’s all relationships, people do business with people they know, like, and trust, we’ve known this for a long time. Where people talk about B2B, business to business, or B2C, business to consumer, I like to replace both those acronyms with P2P, as people to people. Even if you’re B2B, you’re not doing business with a logo or a corporate building, you know, branding materials, you’re doing business with people.
And so, I got an invitation back in, gosh, it was 2012, no 2011, that Wiley, my same publishers asked me to write, basically, the definitive book on relationship marketing because I’d been using that moniker for a while. Then I started to do some research. I obviously agreed, I wrote the book, came out in 2012. And as I was doing research for the book, I discovered that the term, “relationship marketing,” had been coined by a professor back in the 1980s. And whereas most sales and marketing is transactional-focused, get the sale, close the deal, move on, relationship marketing is obviously relational-focused. It’s about the long-term value of a customer, and to me, that’s really what social media is about. You keep adding value, engaging with your audience, you’re adding, building community. Whether that person engaging with you in that moment is doing business with you, has closed the deal, so to speak, or not, maybe it might take them a year and then they become a paying client. But it’s really the huge focus is on building relationships which ultimately creates…we call it social equity, you build up lots of social equity. Eventually, that all translates into dollars in the bank.
Nathan: I see. So in essence, is it similar to content marketing?
Mari: Well, content…Okay, so there’s two components and this is great, this is a perfect time to share one of my favorite quotes of my own which is that, “Content is king and engagement is queen, but she rules the house.” So, if a company is out there and all of them may become amazing content marketing strategy, they would go, their tweets are going out regularly, their Facebook posts are going, their blogging and, but nobody’s responding. Or maybe if people are responding but nobody’s engaging back from the company, then you’re still kind of stuck in the old school way of marketing where it’s kind of one-way, you’re push marketing, you’re going, “Here’s our content, have at it.” Whereas with the engagement component, the relationship component is where you’ve got to first provide the content, you can’t have content without engagement or vice versa, the content has to have a strategic purpose and then people engage around that content, you join in that conversation as a strategic marketer.
The third component here is crucial which is conversion. You’ve got to be willing to ask for the sale, put calls to action periodically, don’t overdo it, don’t be always asking for the sale, but certainly, keep that in the forefront looking to see opportunities that you can migrate people onto your email list and invite them to do business with you.
Nathan: But at the same time, you have to be careful that you’re not constantly pushing?
Mari: The constantly pushing is one thing. You know, there’s a massive cacophony out there, it really is a very, very noisy online world, and it keeps doubling and quadrupling. I mean, every time you turn around, there’s more information coming at you like a fire hose. So, you can actually make a real good name for yourself and actually this is, I know, one of my major factors to my own success and building quite a presence online is that I’ve made a name for myself as being someone who I’m very particular about the content that I share. Like on Twitter and on Facebook, I share a lot of what I call OPC which is Other People’s Content. I generate my own, but for the most part, I find it easy to curate, to go out and find great quality, relevant content that I share on a daily basis.
And my community have come to know if Mari’s sharing it, it’s gotta be good. She’s endorsed it, she’s screened it, she’s filtered it, she’s vetted it, it’s got to be good. And so yeah, from that standpoint, that’s not pushing at all, that’s sharing, that’s giving people some great content and giving them reason to want to follow you and bookmark you and favorite your stuff. But the strategic part I’m talking about as a marketer and being able to convert is where maybe it’s gonna be roughly an 80/20 rule, maybe 90/10 even where 80 to 90% of the time, you’re just sharing great content, a blend of your own and OPC, other people’s content. And then in the 10 to 20% of time, you are inner-surpassing that value-adding content with invitations to do business with you. Sign up for a free report or a free webinar, or come to an event or check out our new latest widget or something like that, that makes sense?
Nathan: Yeah, 100%. You talked about OPC. So I’m curious how much time do you spend reading and finding great content that you will, you know, recommending to people to read or giving…like how long do you spend every day, out of curiosity?
Mari: Well, fortunately with this many, many people I work with all over the world, the clients, and students in my courses, content curation is one of the first things I suggest and recommend to people that they delegate. It’s actually one of the easiest things to delegate. First of all, there’s many terrific tools, many great content curation tools. My favorite I use right now is Content Gems, contentgems.com. And then there’s Spundge which is spundge.com. There’s many, many other ones out there that will help you when you put in keywords and key phrases. It will troll the internet and find related content, quality content.
So, I came up with a system couple years ago that I could train someone else and hire someone to be on my team to find that content and schedule it into Hootsuite for me. And I gotta tell you, Nathan, the exciting thing is I probably saved myself roughly two hours a day. I was spending, up until a couple years ago, I was spending up to two hours a day finding great content, crafting the tweet, scheduling it into Hootsuite, and then, in addition, answering lots and lots of questions on my fan page.
So that’s another area that I have set up a system for delegating as I have someone else on my Facebook page answering questions. And they answer it in an account called Team Mari. So, nobody’s ever speaking as if they’re me, it’s another really important point for me. I don’t delegate my voice, you know, integrity is one of my core values, and so, I always want people to know when they’re talking to me, it’s me, otherwise, it’s one of my team.
Nathan: Well, that’s really interesting. I’d like to hear the kind of processes that someone like you that’s a massive influence in this space has, so it’s interesting for me. Can we talk about tools, what sort of tools, like what are your top, I guess, three tools that you’re using right now? Can we start with Facebook and Twitter and any other social media that you believe this is a game changer?
Mari: Well, I would say first and foremost is List. I really really enjoy the List feature on both Twitter and Facebook. I think they’re probably a little bit more widely known on Twitter, like people understand how to make a list, how to follow a list, how to find lists on Twitter, and that’s simply where you can put, you know, people into certain categories and then you can just click that list and see all the tweets in one place. But on Facebook, there’s a similar feature and it’s simply called, “Interest List.” And I have one called, “Facebook Experts and Resources.” It has 122 sources in there which is a combination of both personal profiles of, you know, thought leaders and whatnot, as well as pages, Facebook pages. And that has, gosh, over 35,000 followers.
And the really cool thing with an interest list is, you know, anybody can create one and you can put your own in there. So I have my own profile, my own fan page in this list with 35,000 subscribers or followers. I probably check that list maybe six times a day on desktop and/or mobile. That’s where I kind of keep my finger in the pulse of what’s happening with Facebook. So List is one thing and those are inherent known native tools to the platforms. But I do use Hootsuite, we mentioned that, Hootsuite.com as my primary scheduler for Twitter. On Facebook, I actually prefer Facebook’s own scheduler. I rarely schedule through Hootsuite when posting to Facebook. I just prefer their own scheduler, and it’s really…it really works well that way.
Let’s see, I like Social Bakers. I’ll give them a shout out, social bakers B-A-K-E-R-S, they’re based out of Prague in the Czech Republic. And they are a social media analytics company that provide all kinds of wonderful tools and analytics for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, you name it. Then I mentioned my content curation tools like Content Gems, Spundge. I also like Pocket, used to be called, Read Later. I think it’s just getpocket.com and they have a mobile app.
And so, with my…I had her on my team, she’s my online content manager. So I’ll save things to Pocket that I come across and then she can log into Pocket and see what I’ve bookmarked. And she’ll load those up as tweets and put them into Hootsuite. Between that and her being trained on all the different keywords and all the parameters of, you know, the kinds of articles that I like to share versus the ones I don’t, then she chooses them for me. And then nothing ever goes out without me giving it the final once-over, you know. I am always gonna check off the last box and make sure that it’s in keeping with my brand.
Nathan: Oh, wow. So every post that goes out, you still monitor?
Mari: Mm-hmm. Well, yeah. Absolutely, absolutely yeah, it was my voice. Especially, I mean, on Twitter, you know, not a lot of people would know that I’ve delegated the sourcing of my content, but I came up with a system, a really reliable system of how to do that. For example, the first thing in the morning, at 5:30 Pacific, it’s 8:30 Eastern, in the morning, I start the day with a motivational or inspirational quote. I started this maybe a couple years ago. It’s something that really easy to delegate, people could do that easily enough, right? Nobody…you don’t have to be the one finding the quotes.
And frequently, that is my most retweeted tweet of the day, is my morning quote. And people just love it, and it allows me to bring in some of my own values and spirituality and just my love of leadership and whatnot and share that with folks. Let’s see if there’s any other really cool tools. You know what I’m really talking about a big way right now is visual content. I’m actually rolling out with Anna on my team, a whole strategy for visual content and you know, Instagram and Pinterest, both those sites, it’s nothing but visual. It’s visual and plus Instagram has 15-second videos.
And then really on Facebook and Twitter, too, there have actually been some studies that show that tweets with an image get a higher retweet rate. So with visual content, especially when it’s branded, you know, you put your own logo and maybe website on there, the two that really stand out, the two tools, one is called Canva.com, and then the other one is something called picmonkey.com. They are very, very easy to use tools that people can go in and create beautiful-looking visual content and then share all over, really, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Google+, I haven’t mentioned Google+ a whole lot. But I will say that the number one reason to have an active profile on Google+ is that Google On Search. That said, bottom line, you know, is you want better SEO? Get some content going on Google+.
Nathan: Interesting. I’m curious also, I notice that a lot of people with the images, they find images and they brand them. Are you allowed to do that in regards to like people that own that photo?
Mari: They have to be. That’s a big, fat, grey area. They have to be royalty-free, pretty much every image has some kind of a copyright or licensing. The more and more you’ll see springing up, there’s directories and there are sites that have, you know, lists of free images. In fact, I have one I’m just sharing that my newsletter recently, but let’s just give you a few examples, one that I just called Photo Pen. You can go to photopen.com and it allows you to search Flicker creative comments. So the creative comments is basically that, you know, anybody can use it with attribution.
So, you could take an image, add your own wording, and then, you know, when you post or share it somewhere, you give credit to the original photographer or image creator. Let me just look at my mobile phone here, there was a brand new app someone just trend me on to… oh yes, mobile apps, I love this, Word swag, W-O-R-D-S, for Sam, W-A-G, word swag, beautiful simple to use app that will allow you to use their images or your own, and then create gorgeous, visual content, you know, with a nice font, just any kind of message that you want, inspirational or some kind of a tip.
Nathan: Well, I’m loving these tips. Let’s talk more about, for people that wanna grow their social presence, I’m interested in some timeless strategies that you recommend because we’re talking about kind of current stuff, but I’d like to talk about timeless stuff that you think will stand the test of time in social.
Mari: Yeah, well, I’m glad we’re talking about this one too, Nathan, because it totally ties into the whole relationship marketing concept. And when you asked me that question, what immediately came to my mind was the word, “Inclusivity.” I mentioned earlier about how social media has created this fundamental paradigm shift throughout the entire world in how we communicate as human beings, and ultimately, that impacts how we do business. There is no going back, we will never return to a society that does one-way push marketing and that ignores the needs and wants and voice of the consumer.
So, when you have an approach, a mindset, an attitude of inclusivity, how can we involve and include our marketplace more, our audience, our current customers, how can we create like a think tank, a study group of our top clients and get them involved in how to grow our business? I just think that that is timeless. Timeless is valuing people. The more you value people, the more successful you’ll be. Great examples of that are Richard Branson with the Virgin brand. I mean, his personality permeates everything he touches, every one of his hundreds of businesses. Another great example, Zappos. Zappos the online shoe store but they also do apparel and all kinds of other stuff now. And Tony Shea, the CEO, has just done a beautiful job of instilling a powerful, corporate culture that is absolutely focused on brilliant customer service. It’s all about the customer. So yeah, absolutely, that’s timeless, you put the customer at the center, you can’t go wrong for centuries.
Nathan: Well, that was awesome. What advice would you give to struggling entrepreneurs and these are not from, I guess, a social media point coming from somebody that has built their business from scratch and has become a major influencer and someone that’s at the top of the field?
Mari: Well, I think that the number one…well, I know that the number one challenge in social media, I surveyed my database not long ago, I have a pretty large database and we got 1,700 people who responded. And the number one challenge by far was time, everybody said time. Time to keep up, time to implement, time to study the metrics, and you know, time to know what to focus on, time to get education. Now, interestingly enough, that’s not even a social media problem, that’s an age-old problem that’s, you know, been around forever is how to prioritize how to properly manage the time that you do have, how to delegate and build teams and work with systems. You can’t do it all and you can’t be everything to everyone.
So the antidote, the solution for this challenge of time, not having enough time, not being able to keep up, feeling overwhelmed, you’ve absolutely got to just pick a couple of areas to focus on. Let’s say, and much as I’m a Facebook evangelist, I will often say to people, start with Twitter, it is a little bit easier to get your head around, it’s actually much easier to proactively grow a following because you can go…here’s another tool for you that I use, I’m glad I just reminded myself of this. Manage Flitter, Manage F, for Frank-L-I-T-T-E-R, manageflitter.com, People can go in there and put really specific keywords that would appear in the bio or maybe it’s the country, language or keywords in the tweets of people that they want to have follow them. And then when you follow them invariably, at least half the people will follow you back.
So you can use Manage Flitter to really manage your following, grow your following, and proactively reach out to people. I would start there, I would start with Twitter. In fact, every single local business would do well to have an active Twitter presence just for starters. Then add Facebook. Once you’re happy with your Twitter activity, then add Facebook to it. And then maybe, you know, when you’ve got some systems, maybe you’ve got even the help of a social media assistant couple hours a week, you can add on whatever else makes sense. Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, but don’t try to do it all, it’s just you’ll end up going crazy, it’s not possible.
Nathan: Look, we have to work towards wrapping up. I’m loving this advice and picking your brain, Mari. I’m curious what your thoughts are on Facebook now since the algorithm change where your reach is very, very, like it’s nowhere near what it used to be if you have a business page or a page and they’re essentially forcing you to pay for ads, to find your spot in your potential customer or account follower in your page? A lot of people are saying that you should give up on Facebook and start building your email list because, at the end of the day, you have 100% control over that.
Mari: Well yeah, I’m glad you’re asking me this. A number one thing to remember here is that Facebook is rented land, okay? If people have built an amazing fan page with tons and tons of fans or Likes as they call them, and they have not migrated them or collected leads through email, then you know, you basically built some kind of presence on rented land. So, you’re asking me, they’ll give up on Facebook and move to email. Well, the thing is you wanna do both, you wanna keep an active presence on Facebook and build your email list. Earlier, I mentioned about how important is to be on Google+ for the number one reason that Google owns Search.
Well, it’s important to continue having an active presence on Facebook even if you’re getting a measly 1% reach organically simply because two reasons. Number one is that Facebook is the number one social network, 1,2 billion active users, 75% of which access via their mobile devices, they’re on there all day every day. Facebook’s become an ingrained daily habit, you’ve got to have a presence, you don’t have a page on there. Number two reason is that Facebook has an Alexa Ranking of two. It’s the second most trafficked website next only to Google.
And Facebook pages are fully indexed on Google. So if you have good content going into your Facebook page and you have a really well keyword-rich bio on your, “About,” section, your Facebook page could come up high in the search results even if you’ve got very little engagement and not that many fans on your page, doesn’t matter. People are too focused on the Likes and then we called it the PTAT, People Talk About This number. Those are what we call vanity metrics. In fact, I say that PTAT doesn’t pay the bills, you’ve got to absolutely be collecting leads, be promoting different offers and ways for people to do business with you off of Facebook. And yes, you can set aside a nominal budget and pay for some of your content to be promoted in the newsfeed.
Nathan: Well, that’s great. They are sending me more questions I wanna ask you. I’ve got two more and then the first one is what is the quickest way, do you think, to grow your Facebook page in terms of Likes?
Mari: The quickest way, I mean there really is no other way around it but to pay ads. The only other possibility is look to see where you have an existing, decent size audience. So maybe you have a ton of people on LinkedIn or Twitter, Google+, whatever. Or you have a decent size email list. And no matter what size the email list is, look at all the places you currently have an audience and let everybody know about your Facebook page, that would be a way to do organically. But you could do that and combine that with Facebook ads. But generally speaking, I gotta be honest here you guys, you don’t wanna pay for ads to get people to join your fan page, it’s a little too kind of like, you know, what’s in it for them. It’s better to get a fan page and pay to promote the content, pay to get your content seen in the Newsfeed versus saying, “Come and like my page, come and like my page.” Does that make sense? Because it’s just there’s more in it for them.
Nathan: Mm-hmm, I see. And you talked about sharing, you like to share other people’s content but you believe that you definitely should have your own blog too to share your own content too.
Mari: Absolutely, yeah. Because then you own it and you’re driving people back from Facebook and Twitter and all these sites. ultimately, that’s what…if you think of a funnel, all the social sites at the top are a means to draw traffic, if you will, or people, leads, warm leads into your funnel and onto your website and reading your blog, signing up for your blog, opting into your email newsletter, just different things like that, and ultimately becoming a paying customer. And contests. You know, we didn’t talk about contests much but that’s a great thing you can do. I wouldn’t just put a face to page together and maybe have 50 fans to do a contest, you might wait to get something like 500 fans and then do a contest.
Nathan: Interesting. Well, look, it’s been awesome to speak with you, Mari.
Mari: Thank you.
Nathan: And we’ve got a lot of gold to you. I just want to say was there any final words that you’d like to finish off with?
Mari: Yeah. I’ll say like to all your readers, this is really don’t ever give up, you know. If you’re passionate about your business and you add value and there’s demand for it, then all of these things we’ve been talking about here today are a means to amplify. That’s all social media does, it amplifies your message. So just keep on with the goal in mind and don’t get disillusioned by what Facebook’s doing with the algorithms. Make the best of it, make sure you’re migrating people over to your systems and your email list.
Nathan: Awesome, love it. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with you, Mari, it’s been an absolute pleasure.
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