Mari Smith shares her secret Facebook marketing tips

Mari SmithTopRank Marketing – When you think of social media, surely Facebook tops most people’s list as the “go to” social network. The demographics may have changed since the early years as a Harvard born startup, but there’s no question that consumers and brands are connecting on Facebook in ways that drive brand awareness and customer engagement.

While there’s  plenty of marketing opportunity, whether it’s to connect with consumers via tablet, smartphone or desktop computers, the rapid development to release new features and grow the business have kept many companies guessing on Facebook marketing best practices. It’s not enough that nearly 15% of the global population is on Facebook, businesses need to understand what’s possible and how to do it.

Facebook Marketing Tips & Secrets – Interview with Mari Smith

For this Social Spotlight interview I’ve connected with one of the most respected and authoritative Facebook Marketing experts on the social web: Mari Smith.  Mari is author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes named Mari as one of the top social media power influencers several years in a row and Fast Company has described Mari as “a veritable engine of personal branding, a relationship marketing whiz, and the Pied Piper of the Online World.”  Of course that’s not all. Mari runs an international social media consultancy and training agency that works with organizations and entrepreneurs around the globe.

In this post Mari tackles several important questions about Facebook Marketing from deciding whether Facebook ads are the right move to common mistakes to which tools are most effective for Facebook marketing and measurement. Mari also shares her most coveted Facebook Marketing secret.

Facebook 1 Billion Users

Facebook is now well over 1 billion users and there are over a million advertisers, what advice can you share for companies that still haven’t taken the Facebook advertising plunge? Can companies realize Facebook benefits organically? When should they start advertising?

Facebook ads is the most targeted traffic your money can buy. Though organic marketing can certainly yield measurable results over time, ads can really augment your marketing efforts. Starting with a nominal budget, businesses can place ads to attract more targeted fans and can then reach more of those fans with what are called “boosted posts.” Plus, the Power Editor is a terrific tool for increasing advertising options. For instance, advertisers can opt to place ads in the News Feed – this coveted piece of real estate is accessed by more than 75% of Facebook’s active users via their mobile device. Mobile users don’t see the right hand column ads. In addition, Power Editor allows advertisers to upload their own email database and places ads to them. You can even get Facebook to find you “lookalike audiences” that are simliar to your own database. I recommend running ads to drive traffic to specific campaigns during a product launch, or to boost lead generation. Page owners can direct traffic to a specific app on their page, e.g. a contest, giveaway, etc.

In your recent post “10 Proven Ways To Improve Your Facebook Reach“  you mention that most Facebook pages only reach about 16% of their followers on average, but that it could be increased as high as 47% or more. Can you share some of the most common mistakes companies make with their Facebook pages that dampens their reach?

The top two reasons that fans hide posts in their News Feed are:

1) posting too often and
2) posting irrelevant/off-topic content.

However, frequency varies dramatically from page to page. For example, we expect Facebook pages for news sites like Mashable to post every hour or so. Passion pages typically post very often, too. Both the The Girlfriend Life and Beauty Addicts post at least once an hour and their respective communities love it. (Passion pages are topic-specific, although there is typically a profitable business running the page and driving traffic to a website). Most businesses and brands would do well to post 1-3 times per day. The key is in watching your page metrics closely, because another mistake that can lower reach is actually posting too infrequently. As soon as the likes, comments and shares have really tapered off, this indicates the post is probably no longer sitting in the news feed of fans and it’s safe to make another post.

What are some of your favorite tools for Facebook marketing and measurement?

A site that I reference regularly is SocialBakers. I also like ZuumSocial, EdgeRankChecker, PageLever, and CrowdBooster. I often get asked what these third party types of sites provide that Facebook Insights doesn’t; one of the top features is industry benchmarks. Being able to compare your results to competitors and even cross reference different industries can really help improve your own approach. Also, many of these tools often analyze exactly when and how often you should post for the best results.

Please tell us a Facebook marketing secret. What’s one thing that could have a big impact that most companies or executives overlook?

Invest in passionate, trained, highly active Community Managers. It is, by far, one of the most critical roles in any company’s social media department. When fans receive a response to their questions, this study by Mr Youth shows that as much as 80% go on to make a buying decision. Although the Mr Youth study is from a couple years ago, it remains true that consumers feel valued and important when they receive a response from brands and businesses — which builds trust and social equity. However, according to SocialBakers, 45% of fans’ questions on Facebook pages go unanswered and companies take, on average, 13.7 hours to respond to posts by Facebook fans. Although that’s a vast improvement on what used to be 22 hours not long ago, this post shows that 1 in 6 fans typically expect a response in less than 30 minutes.

So, the bottom line is, invest in trained staff who can promptly, accurately and courteously respond to as many fan posts as possible. In fact, SocialBakers has a whole new metric around this concept called “Socially Devoted.” I find it fascinating that the top ten socially devoted brands are all outside the U.S. It seems we have much to learn from our counterparts on other shores.

Please share a few companies that are great examples of Facebook marketing. What are they doing right?

1) I love Earth Cafe Living Foods - they are friendly and highly responsive to fan posts. And, although they post frequent promotions, it’s done in a way that is exciting and inviting.

2) One of my favorite airlines is Alaska Air; they really get what social is all about. Their response time and style of personalized replies on Facebook are very impressive. I actually shared a personal story about Alaska Air in my book The New Relationship Marketing, of a time my flight to Seattle was delayed for many hours in San Diego and I’d left my iPhone charger at home. With just one tweet, the local Alaska Air manager managed to track me down in the airport and loan me a charger. I was blown away.

3) I’m always impressed by the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina – their response time and friendly manner on Facebook and Twitter makes me relate to the brand pretty much the same as if they were a friend. As mentioned in #4 above, I feel valued and important the moment the hotel replies back to me. (The Marriott‘s main Facebook page does well with community engagement, too).

Word Cloud Social Networks

Let’s play word association. I’ll mention a social network, and you reply with the first word that pops in your mind:

  • Facebook – family
  • Google+ – hangouts
  • Vine – fun
  • LinkedIn – professional
  • Twitter – instant
  • >Snapchat – kids
  • YouTube – entertainment
  • Instagram – fun
  • Pinterest – crafts
  • MySpace – music

Thank you Mari for sharing your insights, tools, examples and answers to our essential Facebook Marketing questions.  You can connect with Mari on her website, on Twitter and of course, on Facebook.

Lee Odden
Lee Odden is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a digital marketing agency that helps companies with content, engagement and conversions. He is also a consultant, international speaker, blogger and author of Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing.
Lee Odden
Lee Odden
Lee Odden
Tags: Business,Social Media