SMT Expert Series - Mari Smith

If you’ve spent any time researching or working in social media marketing, you’ve heard the name Mari Smith.

Mari has been a featured speaker at digital marketing conferences all over the world since 2007, and she has worked with a diverse range of well-known companies to help them develop effective approaches to digital marketing, live-streaming, Facebook and Instagram ads, and more. Mari has been recognized as a leading voice in the industry since 2007.

Mari has written books on the topic, has built a large online community around her tips and advice, and was even hired by Facebook at one stage to lead its ‘Boost Your Business’ events series, which was designed to help SMBs learn key Facebook marketing approaches.

Mari has gained valuable insight into important best practices and emerging trends as a result of her life experiences. We recently got the opportunity to speak with Mari and ask her some questions on the changing landscape of digital marketing.

Q: What do you think has been the most significant trend in social media marketing over the last few years?

MS: Short-form video, similar to Instagram Stories, is now available on Facebook (and Messenger), as well as Instagram Reels (which is also being rolled out on Facebook).

Earlier this year, Facebook said that it was running out of ad inventory in the News Feed, which prompted the corporation to search for other content streams in which to insert advertisements. The timing was perfect for Instagram to imitate Snapchat’s successful ephemeral Stories content model, which launched in the same year.

Instagram Reels

As a marketer, it has never made sense to me to spend effort into generating content that would be gone in twenty-four hours or less. However, we have all been forced to accept this format, and it can fact perform incredibly well to drive “top of feed top of mind” awareness in a variety of situations.

Additionally, Stories may be an even more intimate content format, as it is quite simple to encourage your audience to connect with you via direct messages (DMs) after seeing your material on Stories.

Q: Which platforms and/or features have produced the best results for your clients over the last 12 months?

This is a combination of Facebook Live and chatbots, according to MS.

Constant live-streaming videos on Facebook get the most organic reach and interaction – but the trick here is to remain consistent with your content. To enhance organic reach, we must first “train” the algorithms by broadcasting live on a regular basis (for example, once per week for one month), after which the reach will begin to rise considerably.

So you go live on Facebook and provide some of your greatest material, education, advice, and so on, but you also mix it with calls-to-action that direct your audience into the DMs, where you can utilize chatbot sequences to optimize your opportunities.

Q: Which feature/s do you believe are underrated from a marketing perspective?

MS: Facebook Groups, to be precise. Although this may not be appropriate for all sorts of organizations, groups may be quite effective in terms of establishing a fiercely devoted customer base. Make sure to link your group to your Facebook page, and make sure that it has a clear goal and an ongoing motivation for people to participate.

For example, I’ve been running my own Social Scoop group on Facebook for many years, and over the past couple of years, it’s really taken on a life of its own. Members provide tremendous peer support, and my team and I contribute valuable tips, news, and updates.

Mari Smith's Social Scoop Facebook group

My group acts as my top of funnel lead magnet, while deepening bonds with my audience.

Q: What’s the key, in your opinion, to an effective Facebook marketing strategy?

MS: The evergreen approach that I developed for delivering quantifiable outcomes on Facebook is built to last, no matter how many modifications, upgrades, and new features Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues roll out in the future.

The overall strategy is straightforward: Content + Engagement + Conversion are the three main components. Rinse. Repeat.

Excellent content that your audience desires, that they find extremely useful, and that they feel obliged to share with their own audiences is the starting point for any successful marketing campaign. Then, interact on a regular basis by responding to comments, recognizing people who have shared your content, and participating in Facebook Live.

The conversion factor, on the other hand, is always the most important part of the equation. Your social media activity must eventually create traffic, leads, and sales; in order to do this, you must include those all-important call-to-actions (CTAs) and make it plain and evident what you sell, where to find out more about it, and how to purchase it, among other things.

Q: What’s a key lesson you’ve learned that’s helped improve your approach to live-streaming?

MS: Making use of the proper gear and software.

When I first started out, I used a webcam setup in my home studio, but I just upgraded to a DSLR camera and it has made a significant improvement. In addition, you’ll need the proper lighting as well as a suitable microphone for the job.

Throughout my professional life, I’ve been recruited by a diverse range of companies to do live-streaming instructional seminars, as well as appearing as a guest on programs such as BBC Newsnight and other television shows. The hosts of these events and shows always make a point of mentioning how polished my on-camera look is.

Though less-polished live-streams via our mobile devices have their place, dedicating a little portion of your cash to building a modest, but high-end studio setup may actually put you head and shoulders above the competition, resulting in increased income.

Q: Do you think Apple’s new ATT update will have a major impact on Facebook and Instagram advertisers?

MS: Somewhat.

The problem is that the cookie is cracking, and I have to admit that Facebook’s direct attack on Apple on this issue has been pretty amusing.

Personally, I am a staunch supporter of #TeamApple, just as I am a staunch supporter of Facebook. I am a strong believer in providing users with a choice and in the ability for each of us to safeguard our own privacy. Certainly, I understand why many marketers are concerned about the imminent impact of Apple’s ATT update; but, the writing has been on the wall for quite some time, and we are currently experiencing what can only be described as a tidal change in internet marketing and ad tracking.

Also revealed this year was Google’s intention to discontinue support for cookies in its Chrome web browser by 2022. With the advent of first-party data, marketers now have the chance to be more creative in their approaches.

Q: What are your thoughts on Instagram Reels and the potential it holds for marketers?

MS: Due to the fact that Instagram is now preferring Reels the most in terms of organic reach and discovery, now is an excellent moment for marketers to embrace this content format as much as they possibly can while the reach is so fantastic.

However, with the recent worldwide rollout of advertisements in Reels, even if a marketer does not choose to invest the time and resources necessary to develop organic Reels, there is a significant potential to reach a larger number of their target consumers through sponsored placement. Facebook is also experimenting with the option to share Instagram Reels to Facebook, which was recently made available to more people.

Facebook Reels

Reels is expected to continue to expand in the same way as Instagram Stories did in 2016. Remember that the goal is eventually to increase ad inventory while still being as competitive as feasible in the marketplace.

In a recent interview with Business Insider, Adam Mosseri, the CEO of Instagram, claimed that TikTok is one of the most dangerous rivals the company has faced.

Q: What coming developments do you think will have the biggest impact on Facebook marketing over the next five years?

MS: Facebook’s full eCommerce experience is available across all of its applications and services, including Messenger.

When Mark Zuckerberg revealed his aim to enable interoperability across the three primary messaging platforms that his business owns, he did so in the early days of 2019. These platforms include Messenger, Instagram Direct, and WhatsApp. Although the initial motivation was to make it simple for users to communicate on the platform of their choice, the primary motivation now is to provide a robust multi-platform shop product for retailers of all sizes – and perhaps, in the near future, for service-based and information-product businesses as well.

After Facebook’s acquisition of CRM platform Kustomer and the integration of Messenger and Instagram Direct, the potential to provide a seamless in-app, end-to-end shopping experience will be unparalleled in the near future, according to the company. Also, keep in mind that the more Facebook’s applications can be baked together, the less likely it is that they will get “unbaked.”

Another three areas that will have a significant influence on marketers over the next five years are augmented reality and virtual reality (creating the “next computing platform,” as Zuckerberg likes to say), payments via Facebook Pay, and Facebook’s digital currency, Diem.

You can join Mari Smith’s Social Scoop Facebook Group for more of her insights and tips, as well as support from Mari’s social media marketing community, while you can also follow Mari on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter