Social media are here to stay and organizations that understand how to use them to attract new customers while continuing to engage existing ones will move far ahead of the competition. Social Media Optimization helps companies utilize social media outlets and other online communities to increase visibility and put the spotlight on a specific product, brand or event. This can be accomplished by creating content that can be easily shared across the online social network through RSS feeds, social networking sites like FaceBook, social bookmarking sites like Delicious or Digg, micro-blogging sites like Twitter or Tumblr, bogs, wikis and multimedia sharing websites like YouTube, Pinterest.
As more and more people interact through social media the power of the virtual “word-of-mouth” can become a serious advantage for a savvy organization. The term “Social Media Optimization” was first coined by Rohit Bhargava, of Ogilvy Public Relations and became popular through his blog post, which lists 5 Rules of Social Media Optimization (SMO). The list has now been updated and added to 16 rules by Jeremiah Owyang, Cameron Olthius, Loren Baker and Lee Odden.
16 Rules for crafting a Social Media Optimization strategy –
- Increase link-visibility: Creating a dynamic, as opposed to a static and rarely updated, website is a foundation step in increasing web presence. Adding a blog to a website is even more useful.
- Simplify tagging and bookmarking: Making it easy for users to tag, bookmark and share content through buttons to Tweet or Re-tweet, Like on Facebook, share on LinkedIn or add to Google+ means that they are pushing your content forward for you.
- Reward inbound links: Finding a way to reward people for linking to your website, whether through linking back to them or posting comments on their sites further increases presence in the social network.
- Help content travel: Making it easy for users to pass along content through their network is key. This can be through PDFs, video or audio files, which can be shared across media.
- Encourage the mash-up: Being open to the idea of content being used creatively through the social network (within reason, of course) means that users will be more willing to share.
- Be a user resource, even if it doesn’t help you: Adding value to users is a great technique to increase visibility, no matter the media used. Becoming a “go-to” resource for users can only result in creating a better presence.
- Reward valuable and helpful users: Encouraging users who add value to your social site is a great way to build a loyal user base, which will feel comfortable sharing your information to their network.
- Participate: A tremendous part of social media is the aspect of participation and dual interaction within the community.
- Know how to target your audience: Being everything to everyone is impossible, so understand your target audience is critical to success.
- Create content: The important of creating relevant content cannot be stressed enough. If content does not speak to your target audience, the chances that it will sink unnoticed are much higher.
- Be real: Authenticity is, as always, the very foundation of interactions within social communities, online or otherwise.
- Don’t forget your roots, be humble: This advice is relevant in all areas of life, not just social media optimization!
- Don’t be afraid to try new things, stay fresh: Keeping up-to-date on new tools, products and challenges will only make your SMO strategy better.
- Develop a SMO strategy: Any marketing initiative should have a strategy behind it with clear objectives defining the desired outcome. It is no different for an SMO strategy.
- Choose your SMO tactic wisely: Tailoring the Social Media Optimization techniques to your desired outcomes is very important to using resources wisely. What works for one site may not work for another.
- Make SMO part of your process and best practices: And finally, integrating Social Media Optimization into the way you do business can reap rich rewards as you encourage your organization to share content.
Although these 16 rules were created almost 6 years ago, they are still very relevant for any business that is looking to use Social Media Optimization in today’s wired world. Creating relevant content that speaks to a target audience, but does so with authenticity and a fresh perspective is almost guaranteed to provide rewards in terms of greater reach to a wider audience in the social network.