Emplifi Q&A with Mari Smith

Mari Smith, Facebook Marketing Expert

Q&A with Mari Smith: 6 answers to today’s burning social media questions

From advice for new social media managers to the growing role of social customer care, all the way to the metaverse, Mari gives insight into social media and where it’s headed.

When it comes to social media marketing expertise, there are few people more knowledgeable than Mari Smith.

Mari is a top social media thought leader, often referred to as the Queen of Facebook. She’s an expert to follow, a live host or trainer, and an author.

Mari shared her thoughts with us on everything from emerging trends to watch, to where marketing is headed.

There’s no doubt that the social media industry has grown, and with it, new careers have emerged–from organic content creation to commerce management. As someone who has grown their career to become the “Queen of Facebook,” what advice do you have for people working in social media today?

Go really deep in your expertise to become a true specialist, not a generalist. I’ve always loved the acronym FOCUS: follow one course until successful.

Certainly, major brands and larger businesses need to employ specialists in a variety of areas. Don’t spread your staff too thin; let them really shine in their specific discipline. And, be sure to provide exemplary training for your employees and a powerful career path for those team members that are eager to progress.

But, unless you work for a major brand, it’s not really necessary to have an active presence on every single social media platform out there. Pick the platforms on which a) the bulk of your audience spends their time, and b) you genuinely enjoy participating.

Regardless of where you choose to invest your time, there’s no question that short-form video is the top-performing content format. Meta Platform’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, recently stated that Reels is now the company’s fastest-growing content by far. So, whether it's Facebook or Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, or TikTok videos, social media marketers do need to embrace this format in their marketing mix.

The pandemic shifted the way customers communicate with brands, which led to many companies pressing the fast-forward button on their digital transformation plans. How would you say the role of social care and community management has changed? Do you have some tips to offer brands on how they can best leverage social media to meet customer needs?

Public-facing team members that provide customer care and community management have never been more critical to a company’s success and reputation. The past couple of years has caused tremendous strain on everyone’s day-to-day lives. Emotions are heightened. Stress and mental health are a major concern. People can quickly reach their breaking point over the smallest issue.

So, it’s vital that social care teams have exceptional soft skills. That is, deep listening, empathy, compassion, and the ability to “read between the lines.” Treating customers with true TLC (tender loving care) goes a long way to maintaining existing customers and attracting new ones. People really want to feel that they matter, they’re important to you, and they’re not just a number. Ensuring you have nothing but happy customers helps create wonderful word-of-mouth marketing too.

Whilst automation can certainly cut costs and provide better service, humans still want to talk with real humans when their customer care request needs a bit more tailored attention. Ideally, make sure that each aspect of automated care - whether chatbots, knowledge bases, self-serve portals, or phone trees - also provides easy access to speak with a real person.

Video content has made a comeback, with TikTok taking first place. Many brands are still trying to find their stride on the platform, and others are still debating if the effort is worth it. What are your thoughts on the rise of TikTok? Is it here to stay?

I would say that TikTok is absolutely here to stay. It’s an incredible success story and a very ambitious company that will continue deploying all manner of growth strategies to stay on top.

At the same time, I personally do not use the platform - I deleted my unused account and removed the app from my phone a few years back. It’s simply not for me. However, many of my colleagues, peers, and customers absolutely love TikTok and swear by the platform for generating real business results.

I also understand the advertising potential is significant for the right businesses. Even so, for any brand struggling to generate measurable results on TikTok, it may be time to radically shift their approach. Or, simply dedicate those resources to the platforms that are producing impactful results.

Ultimately, any and all activity on every social platform really must prove that it moves the needle on your bottom line. That is, generating traffic, leads, and sales. Unless all you wish to accomplish is creating awareness. Even then, that awareness has to lead to the next step in the customer journey.

Direct selling via social media is exploding, with platform updates making online shopping easier than ever. Are there any all-star brands you can name for marketers looking to get inspired by those who are getting it right?

Sure, here are a few example shops on Instagram that I personally follow:

The metaverse is the next big thing, and major tech companies are trying to figure out how they can get on board. What do you think the potential of the metaverse is for brands?

Eventually, there is incredible potential. The sky’s the limit! From NFTs and creating entirely new virtual worlds to merchandising, sponsorships, product placements, advertising, developing software, and even building hardware. The metaverse will provide brands with entirely new ways to interact with customers, including immersive virtual shopping experiences or highly creative immersive events such as the recent MVFW Metaverse Fashion Week with Decentraland.

Savvy, forward-looking brands are already investing in building for the metaverse. However, for the vast majority of SMBs that are super busy focusing on running their businesses, my advice is to stay focused on your current marketing efforts that are working today and simply keep an eye on the distant future of the metaverse.

Gen Z has been a major topic in the marketing world. With their buying power increasing and their strong value system, many brands are having to adjust their strategies. What advice would you give to brands looking to build relationships with this younger audience?

Knowing more about your audience than anyone else can provide a tremendous competitive edge. So, first things first, you have to really study, know, and understand the Gen Z demographic. And, frankly, I would also suggest ensuring that you have some Gen Z employees on your team to actually assist with marketing to their peers.

When brands are clearly trying way too hard to appear “young and hip” in an effort to attract this young demographic, it just comes across as disingenuous. Or, when brands attempt to modify their product in an attempt to woo the youth, it can cause a lessening of interest and consumption among the current customers.

So, be sure to do pilot tests and deploy very well-thought-out campaigns that are creative and speak the language of Gen Z.

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