Social Media Optimization (SMO)

Social Media Optimization (SMO)

Social Media Optimization (SMO) is a concept started by Rohit Bhargava – Vice President for Interactive Marketing with Ogilvy Public Relations, by giving five rules which were subsequently made to sixteen by contributors Jeremiah Owyang (rules 6,7), Cameron Olthuis (rules 8,9,10,11), Loren Baker (rules 12,13), and Lee Odden (rules 14,15,16).

SMO as described by Rohit is “The concept behind SMO is simple: implement changes to optimize a site so that it is more easily linked to, more highly visible in social media searches on custom search engines (such as Technorati), and more frequently included in relevant posts on blogs, podcasts and vlogs”

The 16 rules of SMO are as follows:

1. Increase your linkability – This is the first and most important priority for websites. Many sites are “static” – meaning they are rarely updated and used simply for a storefront. To optimize a site for social media, we need to increase the linkability of the content. Adding a blog is a great step, however there are many other ways such as creating white papers and thought pieces, or even simply aggregating content that exists elsewhere into a useful format.

2. Make tagging and bookmarking easy – Adding content features like quick buttons to “add to del.icio.us” are one way to make the process of tagging pages easier, but we go beyond this, making sure pages include a list of relevant tags, suggested notes for a link (which come up automatically when you go to tag a site), and making sure to tag our pages first on popular social bookmarking sites (including more than just the homepage).

3. Reward inbound links – Often used as a barometer for success of a blog (as well as a website), inbound links are paramount to rising in search results and overall rankings. To encourage more of them, we need to make it easy and provide clear rewards. From using Permalinks to recreating Similarly, listing recent linking blogs on your site provides the reward of visibility for those who link to you.

4. Help your content travel – Unlike much of SEO, SMO is not just about making changes to a site. When you have content that can be portable (such as PDFs, video files and audio files), submitting them to relevant sites will help your content travel further, and ultimately drive links back to your site.

5. Encourage the mashup – In a world of co-creation, it pays to be more open about letting others use your content (within reason). YouTube’s idea of providing code to cut and paste so you can imbed videos from their site has fueled their growth. Syndicating your content through RSS also makes it easy for others to create mashups that can drive traffic or augment your content.

6. Be a User Resource, even if it doesn’t help you – Add value to users, including outbound links to areas that could help them with their goals and purposes. Deployed corrected, even if you link to competitiors you stand to gain as the communities first source of information finding. How will this help SMO? Folks will link to your social site and tag is as helpful or the ‘ultimate’ guide in that space. As this adds up, it will become more and more relevent in search engine results.

7. Reward helpful and valuable users – Often helpful or popular users will be influencers and champions within your social site, devise ways to elevate them buy promoting their works on the homepage, or develop a rating system. Sometimes a quick email or note in private telling them you appreciate them can go a long way. Some folks have done that to me, and for communities I run, I do that as well. Only do if sincere. Perhaps this is not truly SMO, but it will help to keep the most valuable members of a community closer to your site.

8. Participate – Join the conversation. Social Media is a two way street, lets not forget that. By conversing with the community you are creating awareness and prolonging your buzz. You are keeping it going and this often results in a snowball effect. Participating helps your message spread further and faster.

9. Know how to target your audience – If you don’t even know your target audience you are in trouble. I would love to have everyone using my product too, but you need to be realistic. There is always going to be a certain audience you can appeal to and others that you can’t. So know your appeal and who it is appealing to.

10. Create content – There are certain kinds of content that just naturally spread socially. It does not matter what industry you are in and what boring products you sell, there is always some kind of content that can be created that will work. Whether it is creating widgets, making people laugh, or writing a whitepaper, it can be done. Know what type of content can work for you and create it.

11. Be real – The community does not reward fakers. While social media optimization is becoming very important you can’t forget about good old SEO either. Google and Yahoo still drive mass amounts of traffic and you ca not ignore them. It is all about leveraging new mediums and riding these waves. Even though you might be getting dirt on the white glove you still have to take advantage of these powerful channels.

12. Don’t forget your roots, be humble : Sometimes it can be easy to get carried away being a BlogStar or industry talking head. Remember those who helped you along the way, and that respect will help all involved.

13. Don’t be afraid to try new things, stay fresh : Social Media is changing and morphing by the minute, keep up on new tools, products and challenges in your social sphere.

14. Develop a SMO strategy – define your objectives and set goals. Be fully aware of what your desired outcome is as a result of performing these tactics. Reputation, sales, influence, credibility, charity, traffic/page views, etc.

15. Choose your SMO tactics wisely. Be cognizant of what actions will influence the desired outcome with the most impact.

16. Make SMO part of your process and best practices. As with good SEO, SMO tactics should become part of your organization’s best practices. Find ways to incorporate SMO tactics at the “template” level of document creation and as part of information distribution. Minor things like encouraging social bookmarks and rewarding incoming links as a standard practice across the organization can go a long way.

SMO is still in its infancy, but has the potential of becoming a giant. Some writers also claim SMO and SNO (Social Networking Optimization) are one and the same as they both lead to the same goal of social awareness amongst the participants.

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