Amp Up Your Social Strategy

Social media thought leader Mari Smith shares the secrets to mastering the top platforms

She’s been called “The Queen of Facebook,” and she’s a perennial on Forbes’ “Top Social Media Power Influencer” list. Below, the Pied Piper of the Online World (as she was described in Fast Company) shares her expertise as a social media influencer with Le-Vel Brands.

We sat down with Smith to learn more about how Promoters can leverage the digital marketing space. Here’s what she had to say about all things social.

How should an entrepreneur who is just starting out on social media choose which platforms to focus on?
My advice is to pick either Facebook or Instagram and go deep. I say those two because they have the largest audiences, but of course you’ll want to go where your audience is. If you’re young (a.k.a. below 40) and love Snapchat or TikTok, go for it and focus on building up your presence there. You can always add other platforms, but start with one and really go after it.

How can you ramp up quickly?
Direct marketing is all about relationships. It’s much better to post less content but make it deeper. If your content is more meaningful and you take the time to engage with others, you’ll have much more success. Don’t just be someone who talks at people. Strive to carry on a conversation.

What type of content should you create?
This is a place where a lot of people get stuck. You should cultivate very organic and natural conversations. One of the things that I absolutely love about great direct sales efforts is a demonstrable before and after. An honest, transparent video, recorded live, always makes for terrific content. For instance, a Promoter might describe the issues they were personally facing before they tried Le-Vel’s products. Audience members who watch that can say, ‘Oh my goodness, I can relate to this!’ And certainly be real with people. For instance, if you’re using a product to help you lose weight, of course you can talk about how great the product is. But if you’re also supporting that goal by eating healthy food and exercising, be sure to tell people that, too. People can see through exaggerated claims and hype.

What’s the most common mistake you see people make when trying to promote their businesses on social media?
Making the content too much about them and not thinking about WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) for their audience. Social media is a balance between sharing personal stories and helping people see how they can benefit from what you’re offering.

Another big mistake is giving up on a medium or a marketing technique before you’re seeing results. I know people who tried investing in Facebook ads and they gave up when it didn’t work immediately. I tell people to give themselves 30 days and a small amount of money for a test period. During that period, know that that money is being used purely for testing, and at the end of the 30 days, you’ll know what works and what doesn’t. Then you’ll be ready to go with an ad strategy that you know will get results.

How important is using video in social media marketing efforts?
It’s vital! I always tell people that no amount of sophisticated technology can ever take the place of being in person. That being said, the next best thing is video. It builds relationships and allows people to get to know you better and more quickly. But some people are shy to use it, because they hate to see themselves on camera. We’re all our own worst critics. The only way to get used to it is to practice.

What’s the best way to get started with video?
You don’t need fancy equipment or a lot of expertise. Just start with your phone and good lighting. You can stand in front of a window to get a professional lighting effect. Once you’re comfortable, consider adding in a professional ring light, a better camera and a high-quality microphone. Imagine you’re creating your own mini TV show (I think 10 minutes is a good length for most videos), and cultivate your own style so that your personality really shines through. If you have a natural sense of humor, bring it on! People love to be entertained.

If you’re looking for inspiration, seek out other Facebook Live events to watch. A good example is “Red Table Talk” hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith and her daughter and mother. This is a highly produced, prerecorded talk, but it’s in a conversational format that is inviting.

How can Promoters set themselves apart on social media?
Decide what you want to be known for. For instance, maybe you’re someone who knows the struggle of busy moms and is an expert at helping that group be more mindful about relaxation or exercise. Or perhaps you’re on a fitness journey and you have fun tips to share. The more niche, the better. Pick your passion and become a master curator of content around that passion.

What are the best tactics for getting more followers?
There are three primary metrics to measure in any sales business: traffic, leads and sales. Since social media has become so prevalent over the last several years, many of us have gotten caught up in vanity metrics. I’ve been guilty of it myself. But it’s important to consider your conversion rate rather than simply the sheer number of followers. For instance, someone may only have 10,000 followers, but they’re really engaging those people by delivering great content and carrying on great conversations, and maybe they’re also running some really clever campaigns behind the scenes or also running a private Facebook group. Often, those people do better than those who have many more followers. Count success in your ultimate metrics. . .the number of relationships you’re building and how
on-track you are with reaching your sales goals.

That said, the best way to build followers is by consistently posting great content. Beware of weird shenanigans like buying followers – that doesn’t work.

What’s the newest social media trend on the horizon – and how can entrepreneurs leverage it?
Micro videos (5- to 15-second video clips) are becoming huge. Some people are hesitant to invest time in these because they don’t want to spend all that time getting ready with hair and make-up just to do a quick hit. But I recommend that you shift your mindset and dedicate one day per week where you’re going to set up your camera, or your phone, and just shoot a bunch of video. Then, you can chop it up and repurpose it in all different ways throughout the week. You’ll see more engagement this way than by just posting text and photos. It’s absolutely worth the effort!

Go Live!

Here are three tips to improve your Facebook Live videos.

Promote before you broadcast.
Let your audience know about an upcoming live video with posts in your news feed.

Skip the long intro.
To engage your audience right from the start, focus on a pain point that they can relate to —and promise a solution.

Pay attention to lighting and sound.
Consider investing in a simple ring light and an external mic to amp up the production values.

Social Media Lingo

Here are a few key terms to keep in mind as you share your story via social media.

Conversion rate:
This is the percentage of visitors to your social media platform that complete the action you want them to take. Example: If out of 100 Facebook followers, 10 people (10 percent) go on to accept your free offer, than you have a 10 percent conversion rate.

Vanity metrics:
These are metrics that may look good to others, but do not help you make decisions that will help you reach your goals. Example: You might have 10,000 Instagram followers, but if few engage with you, that number is unimportant. When setting up measures of your social media success, it’s important to refer back to your goals.

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