Friday, April 3, 2009

Experts in the Industry: Mari Smith (65 of 45)

Let me start this post with a BIG FAT apology to Mari Smith. She is one of the first people that responded to me with answers for the Experts in the Industry series. Somehow, her answers got lost in my inbox so it wasn't until the other day when I DM-ed her to ask her for her responses that she gently let me know she had done them a while back. Yup, Aaron = FAIL.

With that said, I've not actually met Mari although I look forward to doing so at some point in time. I've followed her Twitter and Facebook streams for a while now and love the pep, wit and smarts she brings to the socialsphere every day. If you haven't checked her out, she knows A LOT about Facebook and how to tap into it as a tool for business. 

Now that you know a little more about Mari, on to her answers!

In one sentence, please describe what you do and why you're good at it.
I build powerful, profitable relationships – and show others how to do the same – using social networking. I'm a natural people person as well as a skilled tecchie.

How did you get into the world of online community, social media or social marketing?
My entry into social marketing began in 1999 as I pursued two tracks: an information marketer and a relationship coach. I was thrilled when my two tracks converged in 2007 when I joined the alpha team of a Facebook application and promptly fell in love with Facebook and then Twitter. To me, social media is like "coming home" – it's a perfect fit for my personality. Previously, I hadn't appreciated sites like MySpace, LinkedIn, Ryze, etc. for business building until I experienced the power combo of Facebook and Twitter.

If you had $10 million to invest in one company and one company only based on their use of "social," which company would it be and why?
I would say Facebook (though I'm not sure how far $10 million would go!), because in a short period of time they have powerfully built up a vast member base and a robust platform poised to spark transformation on a global level… if used effectively. Certainly, Facebook's prominence in the '09 Inauguration was most impressive – the ability to provide a common platform to generate community during a shared national/international experience.

I would use the money to build a division dedicated to (a) extreme customer service with phone contact and support via Twitter accounts, and (b) educating the business world as to the power of Facebook Pages for SEO, visibility and building brand awareness. Such education might be conducted via webinars, local live events, national conventions and more.

Which business leader, politician or public figure do you most respect?
Ooh, hard to choose just one! My faves are between Guy Kawasaki and Gary Vaynerchuk! I deeply admire both Guy and Gary's business acumen, effective use of social media to build their respective businesses, and their consistent personable presence on and offline. (My all-time fave leader is Oprah Winfrey – now if we could just get her tweeting!)

Would you join a toothpaste community? Why?
Yes, I would! As it happens, I *love* my dentist and the natural, herbal products he prescribes by Tooth and Gum. I would more likely join the community to do with conscious dentistry or natural oral care though… which would likely include all of holistic care.

Freeform – here's where you can riff on anyone or anything – good or bad. Or just share a pearl of wisdom.
Having recently met with several of Facebook's team, including the Director of Online Operations, I know their #1 focus is growth… yet they still consider themselves a startup company. Much as I love Facebook and am hugely optimistic for their continued massive growth, I would certainly love to see new policies implemented around:
  1. not deactivating bona fide accounts (for violating unpublished limitations)
  2. increasing the friend max, and
  3. including global opt-out options for certain types of application or event invitations, for example. It's early days yet; I'm positive Facebook are here for the long-term and will continue to be among giants like Microsoft and Google in years to come.

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