12/09/2010 02:31 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

How to Build A Solid Social Media Platform

In today's world, even if you're well known in your community at large, unless you have a strong platform in the social media world, you might not exist to publishers.

Mari Smith has built an incredible platform and is known for her Facebook expertise (as well as her penchant for turquoise and bling!) I asked Mari if she'd be willing to share some of her insider secrets to building a robust personality-based brand (that doesn't necessarily go to the extremes of "owning" a color!)

Arielle: Some experts are now saying people with the largest Twitter following, Facebook fans, YouTube subscribers, blog readers, etc. will get the "big bucks" -- is this really true that numbers matter?

Mari: Yes, it is true. However, I've been saying for years if you focus on quality, the quantity comes. In other words, if your goal is just to amass a vast number of Twitter followers, Facebook friends and fans, subscribers, etc. they may not be sufficiently targeted. It's better to have an audience of 10,000 who actually listen and engage with you vs. an audience of 100,000 who scarcely pay attention to you.

Arielle: You mentioned to me that some of your author clients are telling you their publisher is looking at the size of their social platform and asking them to come back when it's bigger -- how can authors create a bigger platform? (And just how big is "big?")

Mari: It's so easy to research online exactly the size of anyone's outreach. Publishers are looking up all their authors, especially first-time authors, to ensure they have a sizable, engaged social media audience that will be receptive to their book.

Authors would do well to map out a strategy over a realistic time frame, ideally 3-6 months to start gaining momentum.

The strategy should include proactively building a Twitter following by finding targeted people to follow on sites like and Plus, proactively building a vibrant Facebook community using a fan page. A six-point strategy I developed for my clients is: Design > Content > Promotion > Engagement > Conversion > Scalability.

I've found the tipping point to start seeing tangible results is between 500-1000 followers/friends/fans/subscribers. However, a big platform to a publisher is definitely in the tens of thousands.

Arielle: You've done extremely well in branding yourself and being highly visible -- what are some tips you can share for authors to create extreme visibility and become the go-to person in a niche?

Mari: In our attention-based society, you have to be able to really stand out and grab your audience's attention in a nanosecond. This takes laser focus. With a consistent and congruent brand image and what I call "Radical Strategic Visibility," authors can really position themselves as the authority in their field.

I recommend, when you're in "growth mode," to accept pretty much every invitation to be interviewed and get your name out there more. Also, blend the online with the offline - get out and speak, attend high-level events and take plenty photos and videos to then load up to your social profiles and share with your community. This is all social proof.

We're familiar with the saying, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." There's truth to that, but what's even more relevant these days is, "It's who knows you." By creating extreme visibility, building relationships with key influencers, and having a consistent and authentic presence, your platform will grow organically.

Arielle: What are some of the pitfalls to avoid when building your platform through social media?

Mari: Focusing too much on broadcasting and not enough on connecting. I created a model called "The ABCs of Social Media" which is Automate > Broadcast > Connect > Delegate > Evaluate. It is important to set up systems that automate, schedule and publish content. And, it's important to get support, especially as your platform grows; it's not possibly to be everywhere 24/7! However, the crucial part to this formula is connecting and I believe that's just not something that can be delegated.

Arielle: Along with books, how can authors monetize their personality-based brand even further using new media tools?

Mari: The beautiful thing about producing your own content in whatever format, is that it can be repurposed a number of ways. Writing workbooks and ebooks, making video tutorials, and recording audio programs are all great ways to add additional information products to your personality-based empire. In addition, offering live events - virtual or in-person - around a particular body of work can generate significantly more revenue for authors. Plus, membership programs and high-level mentoring program.

Arielle: This is very helpful information -- thank you for sharing your expertise with us today!

Now it's your turn -- what comments and questions do you have about building a strong platform that has publishers knocking on your door? How are you building your personality-based brand? Do you think it's possible to scale the monetization of your brand using social media?

Mari Smith is one of the world's foremost experts on using Facebook as a marketing channel. She is the coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day and the lead author of The Relationship Age. Dubbed "the Pied Piper of the Online World" by, Mari is a popular Social Media Keynote Speaker, Trainer and Thought Leader. Visit her fan page at

Arielle Ford has launched the careers of many NY Times bestselling authors including Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Neale Donald Walsch & Debbie Ford. She is a former book publicist, literary agent and the author of seven books. To learn how to get started writing a book please visit: