by Debbie Josendale

Recently I attended a Marketing Profs seminar featuring Michael Stelzner. He’s the brains behind the wildly popular, a free online magazine to help businesses discover the best ways to use social media to increase brand awareness and grow their business.

Social Media Examiner:  From Nothing to #1

Entering into a competitive landscape…the world of social media advice, Stelzner grew Social Media Examiner from a nobody status at its launch in October 2009, to the Social Media Resource in just 21 months. From nothing to 90,000 e-mail subscribers, 50,000 Facebook fans (and growing daily) and the top Small Business blog as ranked by Technorati to name  a few. Following a principle of giving good stuff away for free, Social Media Examiner did $1.7 million in 2010 and is on track to exceed that number in 2011.

As the old adage says “Whatever he’s eating, I’ll have some too”!

7 Success Tips from Michael Stelzner

I’m an advocate for small-business owners to “create compelling content and share it for free to grow your business,” so I was all ears to hear his secrets to success. Following are 7 key points I took away from his story:

1) Focus on People and the issues they are trying to solve.

When you help people with their smaller problems, many will look to you for their bigger issues. Solve smaller problems at no cost…content and the publishing power of the web enables this.

2) Invest in quality content, experiences, gathering points and community.

Be a place where people can find help in your target niche. It’s important to note the word “quality.” Stelzner talked about the fact that many people just write stuff without giving thought to the real value the information offers a reader.

3) Create primary and nuclear content.

Stelzner refers to regularly produced content as Primary Fuel. This includes topics such as how-to articles,  book reviews, important update information, success stories and more.  Information that you share often to build trust and demonstrate your expertise.

Nuclear Content, on the other hand, is harder to produce.  But, it offers the potential of mega brand awareness and visibility.  Topics include in-depth reports, contests, etc. Social Media Examiner currently does 3 Nuclear Content events per year.

4) Focus on other people rather than yourself.

Create other-focused content by shining the light and sharing the Social Media Examiner platform with other successful peers outside your company, industry experts and customers.

5) Shift from to being an advocate versus a sales person.

Move your marketing mentality from how we can sell you to how can we help you?

6) Look outside of your business and market niche for inspiration.

Stelzner shared how Panerra Bread inspired his vision of community. He wanted Social Media Examiner to be the same kind of community, a place where people spend time. Looking to the Panerra business practices for inspiration, he transformed them to work for the online community

Take away #7 is the key to Stelzner’s success, in my opinion. And it might surprise you to know what it is. One word:


Stelzner’s approach and even his words “helping others” “give a gift” “shine the spotlight on others” are the antitheses to traditional marketing and business language. One might think he is a push over. But, that’ not the case.

In listening to him, it was evident that he had established boundaries to guide and deliver on his vision for Social Media Examiner.

Some of those boundaries include:

♦ Establish massive value by providing free content that helps your target market solve the small things.

♦ Develop trust with a large audience before advertising or trying to sell.

The boundary was 10,000 e-mail subscribers. It was only then that Social Media Examiner made its first offer of a training event.

♦ Mutual Respect is what makes sharing the platform work.

Stelzner told a story about having just interviewed an unnamed mega-superstar. At the end of the interview, the superstar asked “Is there anything I can do for you?” Stelzner replied “not at the moment but thanks for asking” thinking…wow this guy really gets it.

And then, the superstar starting rattling off a list of additional demands that he wanted from Stelzner.

Nope not gonna happen. This guy just stepped over the boundary. Stelzner had shared the Social Media Examiner platform by doing an interview that  would bring huge exposure and the super-star wanted more. Nope, not now and not never.

Social Media Examiner: How to Market Today

The internet has forever changed the way people buy, and it has turned traditional marketing and sales principles upside down. Tossing marketers into an ocean of the unknown…all wondering what happened as they struggle to get their sea legs.

This is where Michael Stelzner has nailed it. He gets it!   Not only is Social Media Examiner your Guide to the Social Media Jungle, it’s your guide to experience and learn new marketing approaches in action.

Last but not least Stelzner briefly mentioned his new book “Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition”.  In keeping with his message of not selling, he did not sell. But did I run right out to Kindle and buy it? You betcha! Check back next week for my review!

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