- By Jesse Linklater
Everyone knows that search engine optimization (SEO) is key when trying to market your brand. But how much are you investing in SMO (social media optimization)?
While it’s already important, recent developments mean that SMO is only going to get more crucial when marketing your business. But what exactly is SMO and how can you make the most out of it?
Differentiating between SEO and SMO
First up, it’s important to differentiate between SEO and SMO.
When it comes to online marketing, everyone knows that visibility and raising awareness is key. Generally, people find your business online because: i) it comes up early in search results, ii) there’s a link leading to your business on someone else’s website, or iii) they have already found out about your business and they go looking for you.
SEO is a set of strategies with the broad aim of bringing more people to your website by improving your search rankings. But SMO, while it can be one part of SEO, contributes to all three of the above ways people find you online.
How does social media optimization work?
SMO is all about social networks and using them to promote your brand. It has to do with carving out a presence and reputation for your business on interactive, social networks – whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, blogs or forums.
Working with SMO can help strengthen your brand and boost its visibility, thereby generating new clients and increasing sales. It also helps to boost your business’s credibility by building interactive relationships with potential customers. Clients will also be able to see your business recommended by others, which again serves to create a sense of trust.
The internet can be a really chaotic place. Lots of people complain of information-overload when it comes to searching for things online. That’s why it’s really vital to cut through all the noise and reach your target market in a meaningful way. So, from the outset, keep in mind that your SMO strategy needs a personal touch: you should use social media to give your organisation personality in a way that resonates with your target community.
What you shouldn’t do
It can be tempting to think that having huge numbers of links scattered across different social platforms constitutes SMO. However, joining every single Facebook page and Google+ community just to seed links to your content is not optimization and can actually be counterproductive.
Remember social media is all about having conversations and building a community. That’s why indiscriminate link-scattering is annoying and lacks any personal touch. It’s more likely to get you unfollowed on social networks, thereby driving down your brand authority.
What you should do
In order to improve SMO for your business, you need to keep two words in mind: engagement and participation.
Engagement is all about connecting with your fans and followers. It’s about building a community of vested members who will respond to and share your social updates because of its high-quality, relevant content. Participation is about actively taking part in discussions and responding directly and personally to your followers.
If they are going to be done properly, engagement and participation are things that require intense time and investment. There is no magic formula for engagement; every individual and community is unique and requires different strategies.
But for a few practical tips, engagement and participation could involve sparking conversations, responding to comments or implementing your followers’ ideas into your product. Focus on sharing interesting, relevant content, which will in turn increase your number of followers and your brand’s authority.
Why SMO is now more important than ever
You may not have noticed but Google have launched a major overhaul of their search algorithm over the last month or so. Dubbed ‘Hummingbird’, the new speedy and precise algorithm changes both the way Google interprets search terms and the weight of some of the factors that drive search rankings.
Basically, social shares are now far more important in calculating rankings now – and it’s likely that their importance is only going to grow in the future. So you need to ensure your content is relevant, authoritative and – crucially – shareable. The more your content has been shared across social media, the higher the Hummingbird algorithm values its perceived quality and the better you’ll rank on Google.
So by optimizing posts for your various social audiences and by building a community of committed followers, you will create a strong social media presence that will both drive traffic to your site and bolster your fans’ enthusiasm for your brand.