Monthly Archives: May 2009

SMO (Social Media Optimization)?

What is SMO?

Well, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is all about setting your site up to be a grand winner in the search engine “races”. You work on meta tags, descriptions, word-density in your static pages. and so much more. But is SMO related? In a way yes, but in a very different way.

SMO is a term to describe the use of Social Networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, My Space (and to some lesser extent even YouTube) and more in order to further expanded an individual’s or business’ marketing reach. By using these sites to advertise their products or services, they end up reaching new audiences. Many individuals and businesses will create their own profile, or build a business profile and then have others in the greater community link to them, subscribe to them, favorite them, and more dependent upon what the particular social network uses.

Examples of How this Works

LinkedIn, for example, is a professional’s social network. This place is an example of the original definition of the term “networking”, outside of the digital web. People search through their list of contacts for other contacts in companies or groups in order to make new contacts. Doing this gives people a broader perspective and a much greater reach when it comes to new jobs. Many jobs would prefer people who come recommended by a current employee, rather then search through submitted resumes from job-listings.

So how does SMO effect a strict social network like LinekedIn? Groups, associations, profile advertising, and discussion boards.

People in certain groups will advertise their services. If done once or twice, especially when you are new to the group, this is a good thing. It lets people know not only who you are but what you offer in the way of skills. Just don’t repeat your profile or resume, since they can view that if they wanted to by clicking on your profile link. But, this can become spam-ridden and may annoy many of the groups members if one posts repeatedly the same thing, or even versions of the same thing. It is also an easy way of loose a group’s membership as people leave it for other similar groups, so it’s best to do this with caution and a dash of common sense.

Also, in group discussions, I’ve found people tend to offer their services as a way to “help”. Or they will offer their services, or examples of their services, in discussions in order to try and illustrate a point. This is okay is some few instances, but shouldn’t be a regular reaction as it looks very self-centered and unprofessional. There are ways to advertise your skills without making it look painfully obvious, but more on that in another post.

MySpace is a place where individuals or businesses can put up their own MySpace account. This allows for all sorts of communication and self advertising. If people want to friend the account, they can then get updates through MySpace’s PMing (Private Messaging) System, or by following the accounts updates. They can even leave comments and have discussions with others who follow the same company.

This can also become spam-filled as some businesses PM or send updates that are generally not necessary. So think before you advertise. Please.

Facebook has it’s groups that a user can become a “fan of” and follow their updates. One can set up an individual account as a business account instead.

Online Forums related to your site’s content are another place you can get your socializing groove on and get more interest in what you do.

Twitter, and it’s like, can alert people to new events, or you can add twitter to your site in order to keep people up to date just on what you are doing. (Good for clients.)

Any community or online tool (like YouTube and Flicker) that allow commenting or comment sharing can in turn be used to drive traffic to your site.

Even your Blog, if you allow comments to your posts, can be used as a powerful marketing tool. You could just as easily link to other posts (or help promote a friend by linking to their posts) as a reply to a comment on your own blog.

Other’s Blogs offer the same benefit in return.

The options are endless if you know what to look for in a Social Network.

So what is Social Media Optimization?

I’ll give you 3 guesses and the first two do not count.

SMO is about promoting your site, business, project, or product (what ever it is) by infiltrating the Social Media Networks. Then through trial and error, finding the best ways to get these various sites to work for you. Please take heed that what may seem the more obvious way to manage this, may in fact be an over-used, spam-like way instead. Do some digging to see how other businesses do what they do and take notes to later compare.

Now, this has a variety of positives and negatives to be taken into consideration, including search engine requirements.

This can give you outside links from other out-side sites, which does help a little bit in promoting your site in the search engine wars. This however can also be detrimental, as many of these social networking sites may not be related to your site’s content. Also, you’ll need to check and make sure you are getting that link-back power by comparing old site stats to current sites stats.

It can also offer another form of “free” advertising. You just need to make sure that the Social Network will allow such advertising, as some may be more restrictive of something they are not getting a revenue share out of when often many social networks do not charge end-users for their services. For example, Facebook recently changed how Fan Pages posts are viewed and have inserted more advertisements, even within one’s fan page. This was to increase it’s own revenue, obviously, but they never alerted it’s users to this change. Now some users of Fan Pages have to pay a fee to get “unrestricted” post views.

From what I understand there are two things specifically affecting how and when the posts are seen. If you have a certain number (over 1k, I do believe), then your posts are severely limited. Meaning, your fans don’t see the posts at all unless they specifically visit the fan page itself. So your posts don’t show up in their feeds all the time, nor when you post it. So if you have a large number of fans, and say have a contest, or a limited time offer, your fans are getting shafted due to you not getting the traffic you may have gotten used to getting.

This is a prime example of how social media sites can make or break your business if you are not paying strict attention to these kinds of details.

My Opinions?

First of all, networking lands us job, tips offs, advice, suggestions, help, mentors, new friends and more. The internet has always been just an expansive network, so this is merely another way of using it as a powerful tool to make those important connections to others. Yet, one must consider that these connections are not just “consumer to business”, they are actually relationships between you and others. Like any relationships they require regular upkeep, else wise these individuals, consumer or not, are going to start feeling used. When people start feeling used, bad things start ciruculating by word of mouth about you and your business.

So beware, tred carefully and with respect amid the social media arenas.

Secondly, it is the accessibility, making the world both a much smaller and larger place, that makes this such a powerful market. It is the ability to share information, media of all kinds, ideas, and communicate in a more direct, faster, and more intense way that offers such a wide range of options to “get the word out” about your business. Social networking, the sites that cater to such needs, and the communities that pop up around such sites that cater to this need to connect with each other, make up a lot of the power that becomes so personal.

Yet, this can create yet another form of spam. In turn this can hurt your site. So how do you combat it?

  1. Know you Social Media Network Platform: Forums, twitter, and more are all similar in that people can connect and interact, but they all have different issues when it comes to optimizing your interaction with them for your best effort.
  2. Contribute: IE. Don’t be a troll or spammer. Offer something of use to the community in order to expand your network of contacts and connections.
  3. Watch your links! Too many of them from any one site or place can cause you to loose footing in your SEO. Don’t threaten those standings by silly mistakes.
  4. Socialize: Depending on what your Niche is, generally speaking, will decide where you go to interact. Be polite, professional in many cases, but be yourself. Don’t sell yourself as something you are not or you’ll be labeled a faker.
  5. Interaction: Politeness, and understanding that text-based communications doesn’t always offer us an insight into one’s personality, is key in many of these communities. Don’t judge. Get to know people and be polite about the questions to toss at folks. Watch how you write the words you use. Also remember to not read into what someone has typed, as cynicism and sarcasm can be overlooked and the text read as aggressive instead of “funny”.
  6. Be real: Don’t expect to throw a few links or un-helpful comments at a network and expect to get returns. Like word of mouth Social Networks that are used poorly can backlash in ways that are crushing. Treat them with respect, sincerity, honesty, and not a purely marketing mindset. Be real, because such abuses will get you labeled and those labels will follow you for a long long time to come.
  7. Try not to use it as a marketing tool alone! See #6. Social networks are for networking, getting to know people, and interacting with people. Not for trawling for more traffic. Please. Do. Not. Trawl.
  8. Content: Yes Content. You’ll see me “preaching” content quite often because that is really what a user wants to see. Meat on the bone and not plastic, fake, toy-that-looks-like-meat.

Above all treat your networks with respect and don’t expect them to give you what you need and then not give back. That will also be remembered. Share, help, offer services, advice, knowledge, information as much as you can without crippling your business.