Engage Speakers Series: Q&A With Mari Smith

When it comes to Facebook marketing advice, there are few people more knowledgeable than Mari Smith.

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook”, Mari is a top social media thought leader, an expert to follow, a live host or trainer, as well as an author. She was also a speaker at Socialbakers Engage 2020 on Nov. 18-20.

The virtual event gathered experts from around the world to present topics around the value of experience during a tumultuous year. Before the event, Mari shared some of her thoughts in a brief Q&A session with Socialbakers. Watch the presentation and learn from her expertise below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvHXmmsfCc8

In marketing, 2020 is often talked about as a year that accelerated digital transformation. If you look at Facebook and its family of apps, have you seen any changes in this area?

Yes, absolutely. Facebook has really doubled down on many of its products and feature improvements this year to support businesses with virtual tools. However, most of these changes were already in the works. These include:

  • Messenger Rooms to allow for up to 50 people to meet via video conferencing and Rooms can also be streamed via Facebook Live. I’m not entirely sure how well this product is doing; it seemed to have been pushed out in a hurry and is Facebook’s answer to Zoom – even though Zoom is also usable on the Facebook Portal device. 

  • Facebook Shops, which is a new-and-improved version of the previous Instagram Shops + Facebook Page Shops, providing a unified presence across the Facebook family of apps and a seamless experience for the consumer. Plus, product purchasing and receiving customer support via Facebook’s three messaging products: Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram Direct. And Live Shopping, where consumers can purchase whilst the creator/business/brand is streaming on Facebook Live or Instagram Live. 

  • Paid Online Events where businesses, creators, educators, and media publishers can generate revenue from their events on Facebook. 

  • The new Business Suite app is also designed to help businesses save time and manage multiple assets in one interface.

  • There has also been a number of improvements to Groups.

When people have come to you for advice this year, what area of Facebook are they most seeking help with? What do they find most challenging?

Organic reach is the bane of most marketers’ lives. Unfortunately, many Facebook Page admins are still unaware that the average organic reach is incredibly low, around 5.5%, in fact. (Or, even lower averages for big brands with massive follower counts). 

However, for the savvy marketer that understands she/he must embrace ads on the Facebook family of apps to truly succeed, the biggest challenge is then how to make ads work. Some newer advertisers struggle to properly set up a customer journey/funnel that builds up that ‘know, like and trust’ factor before ‘closing the sale.’ This goes for B2C and B2B. My team and I work with many businesses of all sizes to help map out a path to success that includes both organic and paid placement. 

And, one other area that is a persistent struggle for marketers is simply keeping up with the constant Facebook changes. I know this one can drive people crazy! If they’re not paying attention on at least a weekly basis, they can easily miss a major change/update and potentially lose out on opportunities. One of my passions is to simplify the complex and curate only the most pertinent news that pertains to the busy business owner and marketer. My audience knows they can learn from my regular Facebook Live broadcasts and in my Social Scoop group. 

Socialbakers data shows an increase in live video since the start of the pandemic. Do you think that’s something that marketers should continue to emphasize post-coronavirus?

Absolutely, 100%! I’ve been a big advocate of live streaming for well over a decade, long before Facebook Live launched (in 2015). And, for many years, I’ve said that no amount of sophisticated technology can ever take the place of real, live, in-person meetings. You can look into a person’s eyes, read her body language, and sense her energy. However, the very next best thing is video, and especially live video.

Now, with the global unprecedented need to maximize virtual meetings and events, if there’s one area marketers should perfect, it’s live video! I completely understand that not everyone is comfortable on camera, and for those folks I do highly recommend investing in training and support as well as regular practice.

The opportunities for live video are only going to continue increasing in 2021. Facebook is determined to be a major player in the digital streaming industry and will keep investing in better features for creators. Since its launch in 2018, Facebook Watch has grown to more than 1.25 billion visitors coming to the platform every month.

Without giving away all of your knowledge, what’s one secret about Facebook ads that not enough people know about?

Ah, so many secrets to share! I imagine your readers know a fair bit about Facebook ads already, but here’s a fun ninja trick. I recommend creating a more connected community via a Facebook Group that’s linked to your Facebook Page.

Then, for videos and/or live streams posted in your Group as your Page, you can go into Ads Manager and create Video Engagement Custom Audiences to retarget those viewers. And, expand this same audience using Lookalikes. Your active Facebook Group members are typically a much more engaged audience and a good one to build upon.

Building your community through a private (or public) Facebook Group can really bring tremendous value, and this video views Custom Audience trick is a great way to leverage your efforts further.

One thing we know about Facebook is that it’s always changing and developing. Looking five years into the future, what do you expect to be most different about the Facebook family of apps?

AR and VR will be much more prominent across Facebook’s entire family of apps and services. AR isn’t just for making cool Instagram and Facebook filters; there are many terrific business use cases that are already in place with more in the works. These include the ability for shoppers to virtually try on makeup, sunglasses, and clothing. Or, place a virtual item in their home or office to see if it fits.

Facebook recently announced it will launch smart glasses in 2021 as its next step to an AR device. We’ll see a rise in companies placing AR ads, too. And AI and VR will be incorporated more into Facebook Workplace

One more thing: given how quickly Facebook likes to copy competitor’s popular features (namely Stories, Reels, etc.), we probably cannot even fathom what will be different and popular in five years’ time on the family of apps. That innovation may well come from a major competitor or a brand new company.

Check out our other expert Q&As:

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.

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