How many people do you know who’d put a potential competitor on their blog? I’ve always said that I don’t have competitors, just other people who do things I do, and that everyone decides who they’d like to hire based on how comfortable they are with that person, and that all of us appeal to someone, often someone different from ourselves.

With that in mind I’m proud to share this interview with Maria Snyder of Maria Snyder Consulting, a social media consultant and certified public accountant (what’s with all these accounting people getting into social media anyway?) in the Syracuse area whom I’ve yet to meet in person, but I hear is pretty nice so it’ll happen one of these days. She went to SUNY Oswego; that’s good enough for me. Enjoy!

1. Tell us a little something about yourself.

I’m a transplanted Syracuse, originally from Amsterdam, NY and simply love this area. My exceptional hard work ethics come from blue collar parents who deserve more credit than me. Fiercely independent, a music lover and scary smart is how many friends would describe me, they give me too much credit. I’m the coolest Certified Public Accountant you’ll ever meet. I’m very social, that person who makes friends and connections easily, got a few minutes?

2. What made you decide to get into social media consulting?

Because I can speak to anyone comfortably, the online transition I made from posting on music forms in 1998 to social media management / consulting seemed natural. I promoted a few events on the pre-Google net back then and received inquiries to help others. Once social networks became popular I started getting paid [people threw money at me] to set up and manage profiles. I took a few courses then turned professional and launched Maria Snyder Consulting in 2010.

3. Are most of your clients local or around the country?

I’ve worked with some non-profits locally, notably the Music Industry Conference however landing a paying local client has been challenging. Internationally I’ve worked with a band based in Sydney, Australia and a restaurant in London, UK. The appearance that I’m based everywhere is easy to pull off since most of my output is online. Call me [maybe*] [hint to the viral video craze] if your interested in my services.

4. I notice you’re in a lot of social media places; do you believe everyone has the time to get into all of these or should they target certain things, and why?

Yes I’m in more than a few places [thanks for noticing] because I need to know how to advise business what network fits their target and marketing. My content is shared across many networks because I want it to reach my audience who could be anywhere. I’m seeking cultivation, bringing together the collection of people who are interested in my topic. I firmly believe you should start small with one network [Google Plus] and build a following, engage that targeted audience, build authority, create value and slowly build into a second network in order to target another audience.

Targeting your audience to see [and read] your posts is the most effective way for business to nurture/create authority and value. The audience comes first. Why start with Google+, it’s Google and integrated into search engines! Studies show that the online demographic of consumers is increasingly online, the yellow pages are just getting dusty.

5. I’m big into the concept of blogging; what’s your take on it for most businesses?

Blogging is the best way to engage customers. Business’s who blog have a higher customer satisfaction rating. A blog [resource hub / knowledge base] can be called anything and is curated on the business website or through a series of posts or on a social network [such as Google+]. What’s important is that the blog is a dialogue based message evolving into customer acquisition in the form of reputation heightening, authority building, and business success.

The blog is your conversation with your customer. The old fashioned monologue is being ignored. A blog should make you think and be about you the customer, not the business. I’m slowly making the “you” transition myself, it’s evolved over time to be somewhat of a social media instructional nature to how to fix [fill in the blank] and advice pieces. What do you think about my blog?

6. The Syracuse area likes to brag about how connected it is but I’m not convinced yet. What’s your take on how well people throughout central New York are integrated with social media?

Great question! When I started my huge push into social media even before my website launched I had no idea how big SU was in social media. I just connected, followed, friend-ed, wrote, liked and built up a substantial following for about a year previous to 2010. At some point I found a social media grading website and was shocked to see how I compared to many in the area. I was a twitter-elite, number 37, just ahead of [WOW] SU’s iSchool.

That revelation happened at some point in 2011. I had no idea there were social media rankings or that SU had the amazing Anthony Rotolo (@rotolo) as a professor [we were featured in a news story together yet separately interviewed on CNY Central in early 2011]! At the #140cuse conference this past April I was convinced that on campus at least a large social media connection exists. As far as the CNY regional perspective, I’m not quite sold there is a large connection outside of SU. I have seen many more business’s promote their social network page on TV and radio and have yet to see quantified statistics of how many active users there are here, I’d guess a lot though. I’m connected with a lot, that is for sure.

7. What would you say to someone who’s worried about messing up on one of the social media platforms, especially when we know it’s happened to some people and companies?

I would advise all to educate themselves and learn from others mistakes and “mess ups” before diving in to any social media platform. Especially for business, a reputation is at stake. Trust and information is an important issue, a well trusted media manager or consultant is the best resource to monitor, engage and observe company mentions, discussions and posts on social media. Criticism should never be ignored and social media business profiles perfected before they go live. Treat social media and your customers active on networks with respect, courtesy and informed decisions as a means to prevent [but not eliminate] damage.

8. What are the top 3 recommendations you’d make to someone just learning about social media marketing?

My top three recommendations are:

1) learn social media from the best [Guy Kawasaki, Mari Smith and Chris Brogan] to start, read and absorb everything they write.

2) get formal training [Let’s Get Social, Firepolemarketing, iSchool at SU]

3) learn how to swim before you dive in so that the reputation you build starts small before your big splash!

9. I see you graduated from my alma mater, SUNY Oswego. Did you love the experience, and how many sunset pictures did you take?

SUNY Oswego is near and dear to my heart, it really is a special place. Friendships I made and memories I cherish are ongoing, we visit often. I absolutely loved college and would still be enrolled however I graduated in 1989 and had to start a career eventually. I took and continue to take hundreds of sunset pictures, it’s the #1 best place in the world to see the sunset, get up there soon!

10. Give us a closing statement and, if you have any current promotion going on, let us know.

In closing I’d like to thank you Mitch for allowing me this interview opportunity. If you are a local small to medium sized business and you are not on social media you are missing quite an opportunity because your customers are there. Contact me, read my blog and let’s get started today. Visit my blog to learn more.

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