Why Social Media Optimization Matters

What is social media optimization? Social media optimization is the use of a number of social media outlets and communities to generate publicity to increase the awareness of a product, brand or event. Types of social media involved include RSS feeds, social news and bookmarking sites, as well as social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, and video and blogging sites. This is basically the process by which you make your content easily shareable across the social web. Today it’s no longer a question of just driving traffic to your website to get people to learn about your products, so many other options exists and in fact, the content model for the web has shifted from, “We have to drive as much traffic to our website as possible,” to the more pragmatic, “We have to ensure as many people see our content as possible.” The end justifies the means, so to speak!

Making it easy for people to view your content through widgets, apps and other social media entry points will definitely accrue a lot positive benefits for your brand or products. The more transportable you can make your content, the better. However, social media will not do a miracle for you.  Its success will hugely rely on two important factors, which are:

i) Is your content interesting enough to keep visitors thirsty for more?

ii) How easily shareable have you made that content across a variety of networks?

In other words, SMO can lead to increased traffic to your site, as friends encourage their friends to digest specific content. If you can appeal to a given person, their friends are statistically more likely to be interested in the same thing, so you’re likely reaching a well-targeted audience.  Further, it also leads to improved search engine optimization, as major search engines count links as if they were votes for your site.

SMO isn’t just about building a bigger social media presence for your brand. Whether or not your organization has a strong social network presence, the social networks of others can be leveraged to great effect. What are the most effective ways for SMO? Here is a quick list.

1. Widgets and Badges

Widgets allows others to “grab” your content and share it on their blogs, Facebook profiles, MySpace accounts, or any other social networking site out there.  The NBA is a good example of an organization that has used widgets to great effect, allowing passionate fans to spread branded content across their social networks without ever landing on NBA.com to get it.

“Badges,” on the other hand, don’t necessarily have the “Get & Share” functionality.  Rather, they consist of an embed code that allows the user to add an image to their blog that links visitors back to your content. This is obviously harder to implement than a simple share button, but there are several advantages. For example, each badge can have its own unique identifier connected to it, so a contest entrant can drive visitors back to their specific entry page, rather than to a general site. And each placement of the badge counts as a back link to your site, as long as the person keeps the badge up.

2. Content Sharing

Most experienced social media marketers now understand the value of social sharing. For content sharing, Make sure you create shareable content. This is fundamental to social media marketing, so in SMO it’s about determining the content that your audience prefers to share across different social media platforms. You should also make sharing easy. This is the embedding of buttons and other widgets to encourage sharing, recommending or bookmarking within your site and blog. SMO analyses the best placements, formats and messages to do this. This is an excellent way to socially optimize your content.

3. Social Sign In

The goal of most websites is to attract visitors. Beyond that, you want the visitor to register. Why? Connected visitors tend to engage more than non-connected visitors — they’ve already engaged once by registering, after all. So if you can get the visitor to connect, you’ll likely see more time on site, more page views, lower bounce rate and, if you’re operating an e-commerce site, increased sales.

The traditional long and cluttered registration form is a bit of a pain in the neck for users, and you may be asking the visitor to marry you when they’re not yet sure they even want to date you. Social sign-in can help solve this.

For sites that already have a large database of registered users, however, social sign in can make things confusing, as you end up with duplicate records. To eliminate duplication, advanced sites are “sniffing” when a registrant may already have a conventional account, and asking those users to sync the accounts. This is something you should be thinking about now, before you end up with tens of thousands of split records.

4. Social Commenting

Leaving a comment on a site is nice. Sharing that comment with your social network is a traffic driver. Facebook upped the ante dramatically when they added the “wordless” social comment, the Facebook “Like” button. And people who click the Like button typically have 2.4 times more friends than people who don’t, and they click on 5.3 times more links within Facebook than others.

Since Likes show up as one line of text, and Shares show up as a link with a comment, progressive sites are encouraging Shares immediately after someone presses the Like button.  This simplifies the sharing for the user and more users are likely to share the content once they have hit the like button. With the advent of Facebook Graph, we can only greater SMO!

Overall Strategy

Given the importance of the referral traffic and the fact that many search engines, including Google, Bing and Scour are currently incorporating social actions into their search results, having a strategy for socializing your website and your content is increasingly important.


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