Expert Series – Q & A
It has been a pleasure for us to get the opportunity to pass on our community questions to Mari Smith! Mari was very kind with her time and amazing advice.
Mari Smith is known as the Premier Facebook Marketing Expert and is often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook.” Forbes magazine says, “Even Facebook asks for her help.” Facebook hired Mari to teach businesses throughout the US and to help create the company’s Blueprint certification programs. Mari is a top keynote speaker, corporate social media strategist, and brand ambassador for numerous leading organizations. She is an expert webinar leader, dynamic live webcast host, coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day and author of The New Relationship Marketing.
What do you think is the most important feature for a small business on Facebook?
To use what Facebook offers for building deeper, more intimate connections with your audience.
This would include three main features:
Conduct regular Facebook livestreams on your business Page
Run a Facebook group where you cultivate a strong, value-adding community
Offer prompt support via Messenger through a combination of automated and personal replies
What tips would you give to a small business about creating content for social media??
Focus on storytelling and making an emotional connection with your audience.
Don’t just crank out content and push it out oldschool.
I call this ‘set and forget’ which really doesn’t work.
One of my most popular sayings for well over a decade is, Content is King, but engagement is Queen and she rules the house.
So, choose to go deeper and derive more longtail value, more ROI on each post, vs. going for volume.
People are tired of the same old, same old.
Come up with fresh, new, authentic content that focuses on the people element of your company.
How important is it to get the right visuals on social media, and what type of image makes you stop while you are scrolling the timeline?
Visuals definitely can make a big difference on social channels. The key is to know your brand and to stay on brand. Maybe your style is big, bold, and colourful with artistic images.
Or perhaps your style is pastel and more sedated with specific fonts and more selfie-type images vs. stock assets.
I enjoy following my friend and Instagram expert @KatCoroy on Instagram; she has a background in design and her posts are always on point.
Another example with a whole different style is my friend and entrepreneurial expert, @QuinnTempest. She always finds creative ways to integrate her vibrant colours.
Of course, visual is just one aspect of a brand. Your brand has a personality and values you express, whether you’re a solopreneuer or a team of 50+.
I know my audience enjoys my content and engages with me because of my long-standing relationship with them and the trust we’ve built.
What do you think 2021 has in store for social media?
Energetically and astrologically, the planet just entered into a whole new era and this will impact the social media industry very favorably.
I can feel a sea change welling up.
It’s been brewing for some time.
For consumers, more than ever, they want to belong to purpose-driven communities, to develop much more meaningful interactions, and to be more mindful of their daily social media use.
People are tired of being at the mercy of the big social networks’ whims (algorithm changes, design changes, adding and removing features, changes in terms, etc.).
And, for small business owners, marketers and small agencies, they are tired of constantly having to figure out what’s right and what’s working and jumping through hoops to reach our audiences.
Businesses will find more creative ways to connect deeply with their audiences, and that will be unique for each of us.
It could be this is the year you go all-in on your YouTube channel or build a LinkedIn Live following, or launch a new Facebook Group.
What should small businesses be doing to prepare?
The main thing is to be crystal clear in your own company direction, values, goals, and milestones.
How will you know you’re on track and that you’re successful?
Only you can define that.
Social media will continue to evolve and iterate. But the key is to have a solid, evergreen approach.
For me, that has always been to focus on relationship marketing, hence the title of my book, The New Relationships Marketing.
Facebook could disappear tomorrow and I’d still lead with relationship marketing.
Should a small business be using reels? Do you have any tips on what to put there?
Let’s be clear, Reels is Instagram’s attempt to compete with TikTok and hopefully maintain its current audience, and attract new, younger users.
(Before that, Stories was Instagram and Facebook copying Snapchat also in a move to attract a younger demographic.)
Instagram really changed up its algorithms recently to favour Reels creators.
If you’re not regularly creating Reels, it can be hard to get your main feed content seen.
If small business owners have the time and resources available to create Reels, then go for it.
I am seeing people like my friend @ChalleneJohnson crushing it with her fun, funny and informative Reels.
They’re very much on brand for her style.
So, as with all your social media content, that is the key — stay true to your style.
For a how-to guide on how to use Instagram Reels check out our blog “A Guide to Instagram Reels”
Facebook has had quite a few changes lately with the UI update and Business Suite. How do you stay on top of all the changes and are there any you really haven’t liked?
I have multiple sources to make sure I stay current. Everything from email newsletters to specific blogs, to Facebook groups and certain industry leaders as well.
“It takes a village,” as the saying goes!
It’s definitely taken me a while to get used to the new ‘FB5’ desktop design for Facebook and I was super resistant at first.
Now, I’m just going with it like everyone else has to!
I definitely have seen a difference in reach on my personal profile posts, in particular, which I find odd.
But, it’s just Facebook constantly tweaking the News Feed algorithms.
The best performing content for business Pages is usually live video.
But don’t just think ‘one and done.’
Ideally, develop a regular schedule for your live broadcasts even if it’s only once a week.
Instagram has introduced keyword search in some countries, how do you think this will benefit small businesses?
This was a good move by Instagram and allows more accounts and content to be surfaced by search, whether the ‘right’ hashtags are included or not.
I’m always amazed at how many small business accounts on Instagram completely omit hashtags, likely because they simply don’t know how critical it is to include them for discoverability.
However, even though I still strongly encourage including say five to ten hashtags per post, it isn’t quite so vital what with the new keyword search.
Plus, on this note, it’s important to know that Facebook finally made hashtags relevant on your Facebook posts.
So, definitely include a generous amount of hashtags on Facebook as well now, as I explain in this blog post.
Mari, what has been a career highlight for you?
One of the most rewarding aspects of my career is when a member of my online audience comes up to me at an event and shares how I’ve impacted their lives.
Invariably, this is someone who embarked on an entirely new professional direction because of what they learned from me.
I’ve seen people with tears in their eyes, gushing about the difference I’ve made to them.
This touches my heart deeply.