Mari Smith’s 7 Answers to What Every Social Media Marketer Wants to Know

We spoke with the “Queen of Facebook,” herself, Mari Smith. Get answers to the most common social media questions to avoid silly mistakes from the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing herself!

Mari Smith’s 7 Answers to What Every Social Media Marketer Wants to Know

I mean after all, it was Forbes that said it best after nominating her the Top Ten Social Media Power Influencers many years in a row, “Probably the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help,” – Forbes. When it comes to building digital connections, Smith advocates two values – delivering value and building relationships. In sitting down with the world-renowned thought leader, we wanted to get more insight into those values and the answers to questions every social media marketer is burning to ask. 

1. You’ve consulted thousands of businesses on their social media strategy. What is the first question you ask your client when you begin your social media audit?

I always start with what the client wants to achieve in terms of growing their business. We discuss their business goals, both short-term (next 90 days) and long-term (one, three and five years, if possible). I want to ascertain how realistic their objectives are when we get to the topic of their advertising budget. Also, when my company can help the client create a quick win by focusing on ‘low- hanging fruit’ in the first 30-90 days, it sets a motivating tone for creating a winning environment. After clarifying goals, a very close second is always their target audience. I meet so many business owners who are attempting to target ‘everyone’ with their marketing, and as a result, they are simply not achieving the results they desire.

2. What’s the number one thing you see brands getting wrong? What advice would you give to marketers reading this post, to help them avoid this most common mistake?

Focusing too hard on just ‘getting the sale’ and not including sufficient storytelling. Brands and businesses would do well to think like a scriptwriter, not a ‘buy-my-stuff’ copywriter. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook stated, “Campaigns that tell a brand story before asking people to buy something are significantly more effective than those that focus immediately on encouraging people to take an action!”

Now that the Stories feature is rapidly growing in popularity on both Facebook and Instagram, brands can utilize this micro content and micro engagement format to draw their audience in with spotlights on real people: clients, fans, staff, leadership team, etc. Plus, definitely embrace video as a combination of regular Facebook Live broadcasts and short video content. Take a look at my favorite video creation tool that includes the ability to simultaneously create a variety of formats optimized for social media, including square, landscape and vertical for Stories.

3. There has been a recent shift from Facebook to Instagram recently. What do you think marketers can do better on Facebook to keep their audiences engaged?

Facebook really wants its users to create ‘meaningful social interaction.’ This goes for businesses and brands, too. Contests are a great way to encourage engagement. Broadcasting regularly with a third party Facebook Live app on desktop and bringing on guests, spotlighting fans, and running an AMA (ask me anything) sessions can really help enliven audiences. Facebook Live videos get six times the engagement than VOD (video on demand). There are many Facebook live third party tools from which to use. Some of my own favorites include, Ecamm Live (Macs only), and BlueJeans.

Map out a show format for your Facebook Live videos, with weekly episodes. Start as if you already have a show, with a regular day and time just like appointment television. Apply to get your show on the Watch platform. Facebook is actively looking for more episodic content to feature on the Watch platform, and just opened up Watch globally. Also, be sure to link your Facebook Page to a Group and provide different content in the group. Highlight your Group at the top of your Page and encourage your audience at large to join, giving them a compelling reason to do so. There are many benefits to running a closed Group to enhance your audience engagement on Facebook.

4. Facebook has predicted that Stories will become the new News Feed. Do you have any tips for businesses on how they can best leverage this format for marketing?

Yes, the Stories format is growing 15x faster than feeds at the moment. Savvy businesses would do well to embrace micro content! With Instagram’s 400M+ daily active Stories users and Facebook’s 150M+, businesses cannot afford to ignore this format.

Facebook and Instagram Stories for Business – What's the Scoop?!

📲 STORIES! Are you actively using Facebook and Instagram Stories for your business?! Stories are growing 15X faster than feeds. In fact, Facebook chief product officer Chris Cox recently shared that the Stories format is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends sometime next year!! Woa! 😮 Let’s discuss! 🙋🏼

Posted by Mari Smith on Thursday, May 31, 2018

I recommend first studying what other brands, businesses and people are doing well with their Stories. Some accounts I like to follow include Jim Kwik, Mel Robbins, and Travel + Leisure. Then, don’t just publish any old content for the sake of doing Stories. Be more strategic and thoughtful with your content. Create a certain format or style. Think of a story arc where there’s a clear beginning, middle and end. Perhaps a ‘day-in-the-life’ of one of the key company personnel, or a typical client. Or a behind-the-scenes peek at how your company makes a certain product. Take a look at the gorgeous Story creation app, Unfold.

Create your stories in sequences and build from there; encourage your followers to tap forward to get the next micro bite before adding the call-to-action. Include interactive elements regularly such as poll stickers and questions. And definitely start embracing Stories ads in your marketing mix. More and more companies are having great success with Stories ads, as the users that interact with Stories are proactively viewing this content and not so much just passively surfing their feeds.

5. Who do you look to for inspiration on Facebook? Are there any brands out there that are getting it right?

I have a shortlist of people, companies and brands that I have on ‘See First’ on Facebook. I also have a variety of sources to ensure I stay on top of everything Facebook. But as far as looking to brands for inspiration and who’s getting it right, I’m always on the lookout for great examples! Alaska Airlines is a beloved brand and gets it right across all their social channels. (I had such an amazing customer service experience with Alaska Airlines many years back, that I wrote about it in my book, The New Relationship Marketing!)

Other examples include AARP, Hilton, Airbnb, and Zendesk – they all do an excellent job on their Facebook page with content and engagement. I recently had the great pleasure of meeting and interviewing these brands at Incite Group’s Customer Service Summit and was so impressed by all they do publicly and behind the scenes. My favorite video creation tool, publishes a variety of educational content on their Facebook page and blog. Third party Facebook Live platform,, showcases live shows from a variety of hosts every day. They also do a great job of building and nurturing their community in public and their BeLivers Facebook group with over 7,500 members.

I love the Travel Bahamas Facebook page – of course, what’s not to love about The Bahamas?! The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation (BMOTA) do a really great job with their content, engagement and initiatives such as their People-to-People Ambassador program. The team at HubSpot Diamond Partner Agency, IMPACT Branding & Design, publishes excellent educational content on their Facebook Page with a weekly live video show.

My longtime friend Roger James Hamilton, founder of the Entrepreneurs Institute, does a fabulous job on his Facebook profile. He regularly publishes fascinating case studies of major business success stories. See this SodaStream example. And, for creative use of Instagram Stories, one of my favorite brands is Buffer. I love their weekly #BufferTriviaThursdays, for example, with fun pop quizzes where they draw winners to receive Buffer swag the following day. I’d love to hear from any Socialbakers’ readers with examples of their own favorite Facebook Pages and brands on Instagram!

6. What has been your most successful Facebook campaign, and why do you think it performed so well?

My audience responds particularly well to my Facebook Live video broadcasts with an educational element and/or a contest! Recent examples include:

Also, integrating Messenger chatbots makes a big difference to the success of my Facebook campaigns now. Using MobileMonkey, I set up a specific chat sequence triggered on an individual wall post and/or a click-to-Messenger ad campaign. I like to deliver something of value right away via Messenger, such as a free report with no email opt in required. Then nurture the relationship with additional value, before requesting the person’s email address. Messenger open rates are as high as 80+%, whereas email might be <20% for most marketers. A blend of both chatbot and email and retargeting works best.

7. You’ve observed many teams throughout your career. In your experience how would you say social media marketing teams evolved? Any thoughts on how a team might look in the future?

The best social media marketing teams are fully integrated across multiple departments, and for sure not siloed. Over the years, I have conducted Facebook marketing trainings for major brands and it has always amazed me at how siloed companies still are out there. Savvy, forward-thinking brands understand how vital it is to weave social into all facets of business.

Plus, it goes beyond understanding and implementing social media across the company. It’s more about developing a strong positive culture, developing genuine employee advocacy and nurturing a safe space for true transparency. Cultivating happiness in the workplace has a profound ripple effect. I love to see companies that are truly social from the inside out. The future looks like a powerful blend of marketing automation through AI and Messenger chatbots, for example, along with authentic human interaction by personnel who love their jobs, love their company and love their customers. This might sound cliché, but it’s not that common and is vital to the survival of brands in the future. We’ve all been saying for a decade now how important it is to be authentic, transparent, humanized and to add value. Now, we must embrace those qualities while also embracing the tech at a deeper level. IBM is a great example here.

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is widely known as the Premier Facebook Marketing Expert and a top Social Media Thought Leader. Mari is a sought after Brand Ambassador for leading organizations, an expert webinar leader, live webcast host, and author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day.

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