Social Media Expert Offers Advice for Businesses

Shama Kabani
Shama Kabani

Shama Kabani wrote “The Zen of Social Media Marketing” as an e-book. How it got picked up by a traditional publisher is anything but traditional.

After tweeting about her new book, a New York literary agent sent Ms. Kabani a tweet about her interest in publishing it. Meanwhile, a publisher in Dallas reached out to the New York agent, who pitched the book. And two weeks later, Ms. Kabani had a signed book deal.

Without Twitter, she would have never met the agent or the publisher, she said, adding that the book is now in its third print edition.

“The more you do, the luckier you get,” she said, adding that the more people engage on Twitter and other social media, the more opportunities they have.

Ms. Kabani, of Dallas, is president of The Marketing Zen Group, a full-service web marketing and public relations company.

She earned a master’s degree in organizational communication from The University of Texas at Austin. When she wrote her thesis on Twitter, it had a few thousand followers and now has 375 million users, she said. When she graduated, there was no social media industry. She couldn’t find a job, so she moved back in with her parents and became an entrepreneur, she said.

At the time she saw a lot of demand for social media at the small-business level but not in the corporate world. She built her company using social media marketing alone and helps others do the same.

Ms. Kabani was the keynote speaker Thursday at the third-annual Retail Summit, hosted by The University of Texas at Tyler College of Business and Technology and Center for Retail Enterprises. Ms. Kabani offered “10 Things You Can Do to Leverage Social Media Better.” They are:

1. Listen. “You can’t be part of the conversation if you don’t know what is being said,” Ms. Kabani said, adding that companies should set up a Google alert for their company’s name to see what is being said about them and to manage their digital footprint.

2. Embrace the Facebook timeline … and claim your Google Plus page. She said Facebook is digital real estate and should be updated often to keep it relevant. Google Plus is a powerful social network for many reasons, but the No. 1 reason is its parent, Google, routes 80 percent of search traffic.

3. Digital PR. Digital public relations is the second part of social media, and it is important to court the key influencers in the community, she said. There are always a group of people who hold sway over others’ decisions, she added.

4: Set Up Your Own Hashtag/Tweetchat. Twitter has never been a social network. “It is a global human search engine,” she said.

5: Embrace Online Video. Ms. Kabani has used Shama TV on YouTube to help her brand her company both locally and globally, she said.

6: Tie Everything Back to Your Website. She said websites need to grab people. “We as consumers are demanding people,” she said. There are different ways consumers get information and retailers and other businesses have to find ways to reach that demand.

7: Social Media Advertising. Ms. Kabani advises businesses to advertise to specific segments or audiences, not to everybody.

8: Create an Editorial Calendar. When people go online without a game plan, they waste a lot of time and blame the website.

9: Pay More Attention to LinkedIn. Ms. Kabani said LinkedIn is now beating Facebook because it is introducing new facets. “It is the most professional network of them all,” she said. She said people need to remember they are not only building a digital footprint for their business but also for their personal brand.

10: Optimize with the Right Tools. She said there are different ways to make technology more efficient for you. “When you use technology to help achieve your goals, social media becomes your friend,” she said.

It’s a big world and social media is a little scary, Ms. Kabani said. But it’s always going to be evolving and there’s fun in that.

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