Hi Mari!  Thank you so much for taking time out of your extensive schedule to answer a few questions for us.  I first became aware of you during the International Freelancers Day Online Conference where I watched your Facebook Marketing Success Secrets for Solo Professionals presentation. I have to admit that prior to that, my view of Facebook as a business and marketing tool was completely different.  You not only converted me, you actually helped me create a PrintMediaCentr page. I put myself through a crash course of “how-to’s” from your Resource page and jumped into the deep end of Facebook and haven’t looked back.  So Im not just a fan, Im actual proof that your material works!!

So, with all that being said…

 

Who is Mari Smith and what does she do?

I’m a social media leader with a passion for Facebook and a passion for inspiring my peeps to be all they can be!! I teach business owners how to leverage the power of social networks, to build a more robust platform and to become the go-to person in their industry. I love to weave in Universal truths and spiritual principles in all my work.

Why did Facebook become your focus?

I joke about being an “overnight success ten years in the making!” My entire career history includes a few recurring themes around relationships, people skills, marketing, software training and the internet. Facebook landed in my lap around May 2007 when I was invited to be on a beta team for a new Facebook app. My friend who developed the app was ecstatic about being accepted by Facebook, so I basically joined the social network so I could properly test out the app.

I was reluctant at first to join another online social network. I’d been on MySpace, LinkedIn, Ryze, Ecademy,Friendster, and Plaxo for a while and never saw any real tangible results. But, when I went to facebook.com it was a defining moment in my life! I really loved the white space, the clean simple layout, the ease with which I could instantly engage with other members – many of whom were people I’d admired for years. These were people whose books I read and seminars I attended – they were previously unreachable through so many gatekeepers and now here we were building real relationships through Facebook. I very quickly fell in love with the platform and became a raving evangelist within a few months. We all know the saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Well, what’s even more important and perfectly achievable with sites like Facebook is, “Who knows YOU!”

There will be many Social Media skeptics reading this, ironically through a Social Media platform, but not embracing it for marketing their businesses.  What does it take to actually increase sales through Social Media Marketing? And does it really work?

Just to address the skepticism first – I believe mostly this stems from a couple of key areas: 1) fear of being “exposed” and judged, of not knowing how to effectively configure privacy settings and 2) not seeing a clear path to ROI.

So, what it takes to increase sales is a realistic plan and a realistic strategy to achieve that within a realistic timeframe. What’s realistic? Well, it depends on many factors. But, certainly, you might not see real results for three to six months. It takes time for your marketplace to build up trust and a solid relationship with you. Businesses essentially need to “earn the right” to be able to sell through social media.

First, focus on adding value. Become an exceptional content provider and curator. Become known as a trusted and reliable source of the best information on a specific topic. Over time, your community will actually come to expect you to offer them products and services. They’ll begin to question your business model if all you ever do is give away free content! It’s actually an important part of the formula to integrate sales and marketing messages. Of course, my belief is we’re actually always marketing 24/7 online, offline. Because people buy people first. Period.

You have been dubbed “the Pied Piper of the Online World” by FastCompany.com… do you play any other instruments?

I come from a talented, musical family! 🙂 I worked with T. Harv Eker as a success coach for a few years and love to speak and train on business development and internet marketing skills. I never isolate Facebook and only train on the site. Though I do believe it’s crucial for businesses to have a strong Facebook presence, it’s also important to be diverse and multi-channel. I look at the whole business and see what’s working already that they can do more of and where they need improving.

You attend a ton of conferences and events… I wont put you on the spot and ask for your favorite, but are there any you would suggest for a bucket list?

My own bucket list will differ from other folks. And, it depends on one’s desires and objectives – I actually love to attend spiritual/personal growth/transformational type events as well as business related and of course social media events. My current intention list includes speaking at Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference and the main TED conference. For recommendations, the annual BlogWorld Expo is a must – I’ve attended and spoken there for three years in a row. Many folks swear by South by Southwest SxSW, though I’ve yet to attend myself.

One of my hot topics is Net Neutrality.  I’m consistently surprised by the lack of tweets and posts from the Social Media community since I believe a free and open Internet is essential for your work.  Do you support Net Neutrality?

I rather think the lack of input from the social media community is simply a lack of understanding of exactly what Net Neutrality is and all the ramifications. It’s not my area of expertise and seems a very complex (and political) issue. I look forward to learning more.

Lastly, what would your message be regarding the future of Social Media Marketing?

We’re going to see a time in the next 3-5 years where the “social” aspect may become a redundant word and it’s simply “Marketing.” The popularity of blogging plus social network giants like Facebook plus mobile marketing have fundamentally changed how we function and ultimately do business on the planet. We are people interacting with people. So, the future of social media marketing will be a constant evolution and improvement on how businesses communicate with their marketplace and vice versa. In fact, this is Mark Zuckerberg’s vision: to help the world be more connected and communicate more effectively such that world problems might be solved. I fully support this vision as it’s part of mine too.

Author’s Note: Mari Smith is one of the world’s foremost relationship marketing experts and is coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Mari writes a blog here, and her speaking engagements can be found here. She is also a popular guest blogger for Social Media Examiner and host of Social Media Examiner TV. Write your Facebook questions on Mari’s fan page wall here and follow her on Twitter here.

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Like this? See the archive of PrintMediaCentr’s 1/1: Interview series here

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