Social Media Success: An Interview with Marc Smith

These days everyone wants to know how to be successful on social media. Most people are looking for a quick way to find ROI, revenue or sales. The bad news is that quick fixes rarely if ever mean long term success. Social Media is a return to more human communications. It's a return to a time when neighbors knew each other and went out of their way to help one another. The difference is this time you get to choose who your digital 'neighbors' are and what you do for them.
What is the ROI of social media? Well if you are a giant company like Dell, IBM or Comcast you can measure that easily after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and it's a good idea. Unfortunately, those ROI lessons rarely apply to small businesses who represent the majority of people trying to use social media to build business. Going to conference or a panel talk and listening to someone from a large company with a six figure marketing budget just for social media tell small business people how it's done is ludicrous. The space should move forward with applicable case studies that didn't require dedicated employees, custom solutions and boat loads of money.
When people ask me what the ROI of social media is I am quick to ask them what the ROI of their first telephone was. It's not a perfect analogy but it works. Social media is not a marketing craze it's part of a complete digitization of our daily lives and culture based on what people want. In the free space top tools are chosen democratically by users.

A large number of users are gaining great advantage personally, professionally and otherwise from their active use of social media tools to connect, share and learn. Marc Smith of Amuse Consulting is one of those people and I took some time to ask him about what's worked for him. Today is the 5th anniversary party of @amuseconsulting and Marc is throwing one hell of a party later this evening, but I got to ask him about what's worked for him before things got wild (UPDATE: The party was a great time and showcased the little touches that take a event from ordinary to extraordinary.

Before using social media Marc used a strong arsenal of tools to promote his business including: personal networking, a website, word of mouth, monthly e-newsletters and joining associations like Business Network International. Marc has been using Facebook for almost five years but didn't really know what the benefits for his business were until friend and YouTube specialist @JoshRimer sold him on them. 

He said that they were free tools and that they are just an extension of the relationship marketing that I was already doing. I was also enticed by the possibility to target categories and markets through social media versus going to networking events where it's often a 'crap shoot'. In Social media I could seek out my targets whereas at networking events I was relying on other people to come to those events where I would then have the opportunity to meet them. - Marc Smith on why social media is superior for him.
I frequently use a story I heard about Marc as an example of what kind of things work for building connections and community. In the story Marc has a coffee everyday with someone new. Often those are people he met through social media. 


ME: How did you come up with this idea? How has it helped your business and you?
MARC: It's part of what I do. I used it to build my community personal, professional or any other. No one will hire me if they didn’t know who I am therefore the more people I met the more opportunities for business I would have. I used to work at Caper’s then struck out on my own. In the last year with the Social media explosion the real benefit has been that people are now calling me to have coffee with me to share their business with me. The roles have reversed. I always say yes because you never know what benefits those conversations can reveal for your business. It expands opportunities for business and it expands the products/services I can offer to clients because I know of their existence. Sometimes taking something new to event planning can be that competitive edge, IE mobile apps for events.

I am an open source program. -Marc Smith

What has the ROI been for you in using social media?
It’s been a 300-500% on the investment of my time. Social media use has created opportunities for me to speak, to reach new customers, and it’s probably doubled my profile in the last year. A website or going to an event is a onetime thing whereas Twitter and Facebook allow me to interact with people on a regular basis to stay top of mind and create more business opportunities. It keeps me relevant.

How has using social media enhanced your life beyond business?
I’ve made some really interesting friends. It’s provided more opportunities to speak to young entrepreneurs. It’s allowed me give back to my community more by supporting charity and grassroots events.

What is the most unexpected thing you have found since splashing into the social media world?
How many people are social online and unsocial offline? It’s hard to tell what someone truly through a digital avatar is. I am as social offline as I am online and for others this may not be the same.

Did you teach yourself everything you know about social media?
It was all learned through social engagement. @ShaneGibson and @IanWatt were a few of the people I met in the early stages. Everyone along the way has given me bits and pieces. I try and explain the big picture to people. A lot of it was trial and error and also a lot of anecdotes. I think I followed the right people in the early stages and that quickly advanced my learning. Instead of spending a few minutes getting started I spent a few hours and began to find out how the services best work. Twitter has been the most successful for me. Although I use Facebook and LinkedIn as well.

5 Rules for being an Entrepreneur - Marc Smith
  1. Be the right person for the business you’re going to be in.
  2. Be self aware. Know your strengths and weaknesses. What makes your day better or worse.
  3. Don’t do things that don’t make you money (outsource, outsource, outsource) All the things that I am not good at or are not my core strengths take a lot more mental time away from the things you are good at. It has a much higher ROI.
  4. You are never busy enough. You always have to leave time for networking, marketing, building sales or acquiring jobs. Relying on a single client can leave your business in the wind.
  5. Even solo entrepreneurs are never alone. Make sure you have a network of people who want you to succeed behind you. You need a shoulder to cry on and someone to bring you down to earth when you are doing really well. (This is most important). No one looks out for you more than your family and friends when you are starting a business.


5 things every entrepreneur should know about social media

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