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Mari Smith

mari-smith

You wrote the book, Facebook Marketing : An Hour a Day. If a person has less than an hour per day, what would be the absolute essential step(s) they could take to still grow their list and connect with new prospects?

Ahh, this book title is a bit of a misnomer. The design of the “An Hour A Day” series by Sybex (technical division of Wiley) is the reader is to study the material in the book in one hour a day. I’ve long advocated a simple system of “Facebook in five minutes a day!” Given how crazy busy we all are and how ridiculously easy it is to get distracted when going on Facebook, it’s critical to implement systems to help optimize time spent on the site. So, a simple checklist that would include items like posting one new piece of content on your Facebook Page, respond to any comments, check email for important/urgent items, and browse your main Interest Lists. Content, in fact, is one of the easiest components of social media marketing that can be delegated to a trusted and well trained assistant. Even engagement, when done properly, can be delegated. I have set up a system for my main ‘Mari Smith’ Page that allows me to leverage my time: I set up an additional Page in the name of ‘Team Mari’ and assigned several moderators who then respond to questions on my main page.

Entrepreneurs and business owners need courage – sometimes on a daily basis. It took courage for you to come to the US with 50£, two suitcases, and knowing just two people. Can you offer a “golden nugget” to inspire AE readers to be courageous like this?

Learn to trust your intuition. It’s always, always right. There’s a big difference between a ‘belief’ and a ‘knowing.’ Sometimes with a belief, we can have small doubts creep into our minds - that inner critic that isn’t able to trust. Whereas with a knowing, it’s etched into every cell of your being. You just know. A wonderful book (or audio) to learn how to really tap into your intuition is Living In The Light by Shakti Gawain. It’s been out for some time and is profound and life-changing.

What are some of the ways that Facebook is most unique and most powerful for list building and lead generation?

Facebook is one of the most powerful platforms to build real, solid relationships. It takes time and effort. But persistence pays. With the new Graph Search, you can easily drill down deep and surface very targeted new contacts to befriend. Facebook Ads is also a terrific resource and powerful for driving targeted traffic to an offer.

You became part of the Facebook beta team in 2007, which means you’ve really seen Facebook evolve.  This gives you a great perspective.  Can you tell us where you think that evolution is going next, especially in terms of list building and lead generation?

It’s all about plotting the social graph and garnering as much micro detail as possible from users. The more information Facebook can gather about the day to day lives of its users, the more the company can sell that data to advertisers. Since Facebook went public in February 2012, we’ve seen a growth in paid products. The company is essentially, “pay to play.” However, there is still a vast number of ways to generate organic reach and growth on the site simply by spending anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more on the site connecting, adding value and authentically guiding people to your offers.

How long did it take you to get the first 1000 subscribers to your list? If you were just starting your list now, is there anything in particular that you would definitely do (or not do) to get those first subscribers?

I started out building my email list in the year 2000. My weekly e-newsletter was called “Parties and Events in San Diego” and was just a public service for locals, really. Over time, I would have all kinds of event organizers want me to promote their events; it took me about a year to reach the first 1,000 subscribers. Over the years, my list has evolved to what it is today (80,000 small business owners and entrepreneurs around the world!). What builds my list mostly these days is offering free webinars; I will often have as many as 15,000 registrations for such webinars and can easily generate a couple thousand new leads in a few short weeks. Giving away free content is a terrific way to build your list - whether that is a free webinar, teleseminar, digital download, white paper, or strategy session. Using social channels to promote this free content is one of the most effective ways to increase signups.

You really emphasize relationships first and business second. In terms of Facebook specifically, how often do you share relationship building content, versus promotional content?

My formula is 9/10 posts on my Page are of a business nature and 1/10 are either somewhat personal and/or off-topic. And, on my personal Profile, my formula is the other way around: 9/10 personal and 1/10 business. And then, with the business posts I use the 80/20 rule: 80% focus on adding value (non-promotional, helpful resources - almost always ‘OPC’ other people’s content) and then 20% promotion, inviting to join one of my courses, sign up for my newsletter, register for a free webinar.

The Borg have just taken over cyberspace but planet earth continues to do business in stealth mode. You’re limited to a small amount of bandwidth on the interwebs (or risk being assimilated!), using just ONE list building tactic for the next year.  What would be your choice – and why?

Giving away free content via live webinars -- using a combination of me on camera and desktop sharing to do live demos of Facebook training. This allows me to connect through the camera lens with my audience; it’s the next best thing to being live and helps to establish rapport and trust.

Any last thoughts or ideas about list building and lead generation you’d like to share?

It’s often been said that ‘the money is in the list.’ I like to take that a step further and say, ‘the money is in the relationship you have with the people on your list.’ It’s so important for us marketers to view our email lists not as numbers and stats, but as real people with needs, wants, desires, challenges and problems for which we have the solution. We can then take time to really nurture the relationship by adding value with a regular e-zine, for example. And only then, we ‘earn the right’ to make promotional offers.

To that end, one of my favorite quotes is by Jan Rezab, CEO of Socialbakers - a popular social media stats company: "In the last year there has been a shift away from brands simply seeking to collect the highest number of fans. What is important is how you interact and serve them." He’s talking about growing large fanbases on Facebook vs. engaging with them. However, this same premise applies to email lists, too.