Social Media Optimization Tips for Startups and Small Business Owners
I hope social media marketing and content marketing are daily practices for (small) business owners and entrepreneurs. For startups, these marketing practices may seem daunting tasks though. That is okay. Even social media savvy entrepreneurs can use tips in this ever-changing marketing world. Hence, in this blog, I will give you a brief overview of what is known about social media optimization today, and what the basic rules are. Then, I will list some tips on how to use social media optimization so that you can combat the content shock.
What is SMO and how does it differ from SEO?
Social Media Optimization (SMO) is only one letter different from SEO (Search Engine Optimization), says Jessica Ann, but it is changing the way we think about SEO. Let us start with understanding SEO first. SEO is making websites as search-engine friendly as possible, both in terms of content and of design. The goal of good SEO is to make your website appear higher in the search results for queries relevant to your industry.
While SEO focuses on relevance (still incredibly important), social media optimization focuses on the ease of sharing your content across a variety of social networking platforms, and its accessibility. SMO-friendly markup is a great way to ensure the clarity and appeal of your content. This sort of control and simplicity ensure your content is as presentable as possible when it is shared.
While SEO focuses on getting your website seen in search, SMO integrates the various social media networks and sharing tools. When you incorporate both SEO and SMO, you can evolve into a truly social business and reap the rewards.
Why does Social Media Optimization matter?
Why you should care about SMO? Jim Tobin has created a chart, shown below, which indicates that social networks are driving an increasing amount of traffic to an increasing number of websites. Sites like Comedy Central, Forever 21 and Etsy are seeing more traffic from social networks than from Google. He believes that how social referral traffic is performing for you most likely depends on two factors:
- How interesting your content is
- How easily shareable you have 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 are likely reaching a well-targeted audience. Additionally, it also leads to improved search engine optimization, as major search engines count links as if they were votes for your site. Tobin believes that widgets and badges, social sign in and social commenting are good options for sharing your content and increasing traffic to your website.
The original 5 rules of SMO and their updated equivalents
Rohit Bhargava, the founder of Influential Marketing Group, was the first to blog about SMO (in 2006). He gives five rules they use to help guide their thinking with conducting an SMO for a client’s website. They were:
- Increase your linkability
- Make tagging and bookmarking easy
- Reward inbound links
- Help your content travel
- Encourage the mashup
Four years later, Bhargava feels the rules need to be updated to current social media practices, so he gives another list:
- Increase your linkability Create shareable content
- Make tagging and bookmarking easy Make sharing easy
- Reward inbound links Reward engagement
- Help your content travel Proactively share content
- Encourage the mashup Encourage the mashup
For more information on them, please click on the two links. By now, several authors have come up with new rules and updates of the list, but I feel they are not as strong as the five rules here. I think these five are the core. Rules like ‘define an SMO strategy’ and ‘implement that SMO strategy’ are only logical additions that you can come up with yourself after reading these five rules.
5 Ways to Optimize Your Social Media Content to Combat Content Shock
By now, social media marketing and content marketing are an everyday practice. That means much content is generated every day again. James Scherer has written a blog about the content shock (a term from Mark Schaefer) and how to combat this shock with SMO. Schaefer defines content shock as “The emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it.”
According to Scherer, this means that content marketing is a standard practice. It delivers, per dollar, three times the leads as traditional marketing avenues, it costs 62 percent less, and it is ranked as the single most effective strategy for SEO. Because of its success, content marketers are creating an ever-increasing amount of content (27,000,000 pieces per day), doubling the entire amount of available web-based information every 9–24 months. However, readers are only human; they can only absorb so much information.
Scherer indicates that in the coming years, content marketers will need to fight hard to make content more shareable, endorse-able, tweet-able, pin-able and likable than anyone else’s does. He gives five strategies, of which a brief overview will be given here. If you want to read more about them, click his name.
- Make your content shareable and engageable
(Create awesome visuals, make it bite-sized, encourage social shares)
- Focus on being social
(put the individual into your content)
- Engage with influencers
- Reuse content to combat a decreasing ROI
- Make your content unique, engaging and different
Well, I hope this blog has not given you a content shock. It is a lot to take in. There are so many ways to implement a social media marketing strategy, and so many social networks and social tools. Each of the blogs mentioned gives tips on the practical tools the writers use themselves. Check them out and find the ones you like best.
For me personally, it has helped a lot that I started writing in English instead of Dutch. Now, I have a much bigger reach with my blogs and content. All the parts in my blog are in English, including the images and videos. These are now much more shareable, simply because more people understand them. If you need help with translating your blogs or content into Dutch or English, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit my contact page.
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