On our most recent CredibiltyLIVE event, we were excited to have Mari Smith (@MariSmith) talk about how small businesses can use social media to enhance their online presence. In her interview with Michael “Hutch” Hutchison, Mari took questions from audience members and shared some great insights into making social media marketing profitable.

In case you missed the live event, we’ve provided some highlights below as well as the recorded interview here:

Hutch: You mentioned that having a Facebook is no longer an option. Why is Facebook marketing such a game changer for small business?

Mari: Facebook is absolutely the number social network on the planet.

Hutch: Where should a small business start if they want to use Facebook to drive profits?

Mari: The first part is that businesses are often stopped by a fear of negative comments. Don’t put up a Facebook page and turn off the wall because you’re afraid of dealing with negative comments. Facebook allows for a golden opportunity to deal with criticism and try and change people into customers for life.When someone lands on a fan page, it should be very clear what your business does. Tied into this is how you want to use Facebook, make sure you have clear objectives. Content in any social channel is also vital. Mari recommends using a 50/50 split of your own content and sharing other people’s content. By doing this, you can help to establish yourself as an authority in your field. To help with this, write more content and share more content. Give people something to engage with.

Hutch: What are the three critical ingredients for a company just starting to make money so that they can make a lot of money?

Mari: F.O.C.U.S. is important. Follow one course until successful, stick with it until you see success and then you can start branching out. The second ingredient is having a systematic approach to how you are using Facebook and social media so you can deal with any kind of situation. The third part is mentors. By surrounding yourself with the right people who can help you elevate your life and business.

Hutch: Is promoting your business on social media just a race to get the most fans?

Mari: There are as many approaches to social media as there are people using social media. Mari feels that quality is better than quantity. By being personal and building relationships, people can help to grow your community.

Hutch: What type of content do you find is most engaging?

Mari: You need to experiment. Shorter content is typically better and get more engagement and shares. Asking questions and posting polls is also a good way of offering engagement. A newer method, brought about by the share feature is focusing less on yourself or your brand and offering more general content that people want to share.

Hutch: How can a small business like a pizza place use Facebook?

Mari: The beauty of having a local, physical store is that you can take advantage of Facebook mobile. People can now check in on FourSquare and Facebook from their phone. Businesses can set up deals for check ins to drive business to their own stores.

Hutch: How do you know whether to use Facebook or Twitter to market your business?

Mari: There are four major social networks, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. Of those four, pick two. Pick the one that you enjoy the most and where most of your customers are. Experiment and find what works best for you.

Hutch: How should a business deal with negative feedback on their Facebook page?

Mari: Ideally, all business should have a policy in place. There should be specific people that deal with it at specific times. Make sure spam is deleted immediately. If someone is just looking for attention, do not give them attention, get rid of them as soon as possible. If there is truth in a complaint, address it and go above and beyond in reaching out to them to correct the mistake. Other people will see the steps that you take to rectify a situation.

Hutch: What ideas or tips do you have to make Small Business Saturday profitable?

Mari: It is important to not approach all social media as a campaign. Make social media part of the DNA of your business and integrate in every way you can. People with smart phones are now audiences with audiences with audiences. In terms of Small Business Saturday, offer whatever you can, whether it is online or in store. Campaigns can help create top of mind awareness.

Mari: People do business with people they know, like, and trust. The beautiful thing about social networks is you have an opportunity to tap into your client base and nurture those relationships.

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Want more?

Check out this Small Business Saturday interview we recently did with Mari Smith where she talks about the importance of making your business visible online.