Mari Smith: Relationships first, business second

Mari Smith: Relationship First, Business SecondMari Smith graced over 450 attendees with her Facebook and Twitter expertise as she headed up the Thought Leader Series with Bob Ogdon, CEO of Swiftpage yesterday afternoon.

Why social media?
Social media, to Mari Smith, meets the fundamental need of wanting to belong that everyone craves and allows that need to enter into the business world. Tools for building a loyal tribe if you will. Now commerce is being produced through more efficient avenues and the ability to reach key decision makers has dramatically increased due to this surge.

Mari mentions the term “brandividual” and urges small businesses to appoint someone in their company to adopt this title. She sites Frank Eliason of Comcast saying that the number one common denominator in successful social media users is PASSION, not just about the brand they are representing but the people they interact with.  A brandividual is someone who knows their products and services inside out and can naturally and passionately relay that information to the public. Another title to add to the position is the Chief Listening Officer. The CLO has the ability to watch and listen to the conversation and trends of the industry and then engage and react to them.

Another important point brought up during the webinar was the balancing act between being a member of the social media community and a marketer of it. Mari strongly sticks to the motto, “Relationships first, business second” She urged the attendees to concentrate on becoming members of the Twitter and Facebook communities rather than solely marketers trying to sell their company’s services. When you approach social media in an organic fashion, more relationships are built and you will ultimately end up with more dedicated followers. Mari used the example of meeting someone at a bar. You wouldn’t walk right up and ask if they will marry you. You have a conversation first and if everything feels right then you move forward from there, starting a friendship/relationship. The same social graces apply to social media and shouldn’t be overlooked.

twitter_256x256Why Twitter?
Twitter is a place where content is continually flowing in and out of people’s minds. One tweet that goes through is picked up by followers and then quickly transitions to the next. It is a constant flow of information. This is why it is far more important to concentrate on writing strong, quality content that will more likely get remembered rather than an abundance of mediocre tweets.

Mari describes two creative ways to engage followers in Twitter. Curiosity marketing is writing engaging content that will simultaneously lead people to want to click on the link provided. Provide your followers with content based material and use colorful language to catch their eye. Anticipation marketing is when you create a build up to a product launch, event, giveaway, you name it. By letting out little tidbits about your launch you create an anticipation that leaves followers wanting more and automatically following your tweets.

facebook Why Facebook?
Facebook provides a perfect layout for you to continually provide a call to action to
your fan base. There are many different applications that allow you to do this that
include, staticfbml and networked blogs are just two examples. Such applications allow you to add an email opt-in to your page or the ability to automatically post your blogs to your wall as soon as they are posted from your blog site. Facebook  provides you with an avenue to blend many initiatives like the ones above as well as posting events and discussion boards.

What else?
Mari reminds us of the emerging trend of the business world turning content based. Every company and business professional can now create their own content and share it with the world. Case studies, white papers, webinars, articles, forums, press releases, blog are just a few. This gives us the ability to share new ideas and connect with people in all different ways.

The key to all social media ventures is to continually drive people back to your content hub, whether that is your blog or your web site. Driving people to your central hub allows you to be in control of the content and message that is relayed to the public. Commerce is being done at an unbelievable rate today because of social media and the ability to reach key decisions makers. Take some time to listen and develop strategic relationships and as the relationships evolve your services will come into play naturally and effectively. Creating a lead generation funnel boils down to creating relationships and trust that naturally bring new contacts your way. If you force it you’ve lost the battle.

Here are other social media resources Mari mentioned:
–    Tweetbeep
–    Techrigy
–    Scoutlabs
*The full list will be included in the follow up email to the webinar and will also be available on the Thought Leader webpage as well.

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