This is the age of social media. Social media activity is the single most largest activity being performed on the internet presently with a huge number of tweets being tweeted, videos being uploaded on YouTube, status updates posted on Facebook and career related content uploaded on LinkedIn every second. In short, social media has become a new tool of expression for the new age society. Thus social media optimization (SMO) assumes greater significance if you want to drive more traffic to your website. SMO was originally designed to drive traffic from the bookmarking sites and social networks. However, due to the explosion in the social media activity on the internet, SMO also has a positive effect on the SEO parameters of any site. A good SMO strategy will attract traffic from both the direct social sites and even from the search engines.
The concept of social media optimization was first floated by rohit bhargava in his article ‘the 5 rules of social media optimization’ in the year 2006. In this article, Rohit emulates the importance of social media optimization to attract traffic to any website and how important role SMO plays in driving traffic from the social media sites to your website. Even the definition of SMO in Wikipedia recognizes this fact and as per Wikipedia, SMO plays a key role that is akin to SEO and optimizes the content so that it could be shared easily across the social media channels.
While the initial focus of the SEO was on link ability and easy bookmarking, the priorities have changed since the social media scenario has undergone a lot of transformation with the passage of time. The user recommendations are playing a huge role to rank up the pages and websites in the search engine page results. Looking at the SEO efforts from a traditional point of view, it focused more on the technical aspects of the website. However, all this has changed due to the constant changes in the Google’s search algorithm where digital marketers are focusing more on the user experience (UX) and even the quality of the content itself that is being shared. More often, the content that has the most shares, most comments, most social proof that it is being liked by people is going to produce the best results in the SMO rather than just blind sharing of any social media post. Focusing on quality rather than the quantity is the key towards SMO.
However, social proof and social signals may not just be confined to the number of shares or the size of an individual’s network. The quality of interactions that the person does is by far more valued than the number of people that particular individual is having in his or her account. With the vast strides that have been made in machine learning and artificial intelligence and also big data, now increasingly the huge multitude of data that is been produced by the social networks is now being analyzed by the algorithms of say Facebook and they are taught to consider many more parameters rather than just the number of shares or the number of comments on the particular post before defining what in terms of machine language can be termed as a valuable piece of social media posting. In this context, you may be tempted to opt for quantity over quality and may think that one way to SMO of your content is to join every Facebook or LinkedIn group out there and post the link of your content, sharing endlessly just for the sake of sharing without looking at the relevancy of the content shared in that particular group. This is however is very wrong way of approaching SMO.
This kind of behavior is not only intimidating to other users but it is also counterproductive. This kind of behavior diminishes your authority and the poster of quality posts that have value and the moment your posts are seen by users, they are likely to unfollow you or hide your posts from their Facebook news stream or may even report your content as spam. Machine learning makes things even worse for you. If the algorithm discovers that there is no interaction with your posts and links, such as sharing, commenting or liking, the algorithm would conclude that your content is not valuable. Thus, the more quantitative approach you make towards your SMO efforts, the more your content may not be valued in the form of user generated activities and your authority diminishes.
Keeping this context in view, Joshua Berg, one of the leading authorities of SMO has advocated a seven step model for social media optimization named REALSMO, which is described as follows:
You have to ensure that the type of content you post promotes you as an expert in your field. You don’t always have to promote original content that you have written, but, if you can be the source of credible information and info that is interesting and has a high social value, even though it is from some other source other than you, it goes a long way in establishing your credibility as the originator of good and interesting sharable content. All this will make you a respected and a qualified source. In addition to this, your reputation of how you engage and help people online would go in a long way in establishing as a credible source. It will be enhanced if you openly share your content and expertise including content that is not your own, engage with your viewers through discussions and commenting and generally being helpful and nice with people.
No man is an island, and this tenet holds true especially in the era of social media. You need to actively engage with your viewers and be a participant in their every activity with your website. This can be in the form of comments, shares, likes and plus ones. You should besides sharing your content also share good quality content produced by others and give your expert comments and feedback. One way to enhance user experience (UX) on your website is to make it easy for people to interact with you and also with each other. You may find that communities on LinkedIn and Google plus are far more active and people are willing to engage themselves in lively discussions on these sites in the groups they are listed in. You should also encourage people to comment on the content that you have created. This serves for you as a valuable feedback and also helps in raising the social media quotient of the content that you have created, so user engagement is much more beneficial to you.
There are many dimensions to authority and it doesn’t come easily. Search engine algorithms are keen in determining what individuals and brands are seen as authoritative and trusted by real people on the internet. The most obvious way you can do is by gaining Google Authorship. Gaining Google Authorship not only helps you in establishing yourself as an expert in the eyes of your audience but also serves to highlight your profile prominently in search results. So, in order to gain the two pronged benefit of gaining the status of authority and being in the top rankings of the search results, you cement your presence on the social media scene. Being an authority also helps you gain the trust of your readers and audience, since they tend to trust you more if your audience views you as an authority on certain subjects.
Leadership consists of high quality research, thinking and original content production. A trait of a good leader will be that they research everything they can about their areas and then share thoughtful insights which is based on their own judgment, experience and analysis. This adds value to the kind of content they are creating and this will definitely attract more visitors and audience to the content they are creating. In contrast, if you consistently generate poor quality content, then you will lose the trust and respect of your audiences and your content will consequently not be shared on the social media. As a leader, you can also play the role of a content curator. This means you don’t have to share your original content every time in order to establish yourself as a leader in your area. If you just give your thoughtful insight or just add a good summary to the content that others have produced, your job is done.
For the sake of social media optimization (SMO), you also need to build high quality networks, where in network quality potentially matters more than the number of members you have in your network. You can begin by connecting to experts and authority figures in your field, read what they say, engage them in a discussion through your comments and shared insights and also share your ideas. Thus, it is not just the number of people you have in your network, by the manner you are able to curate your relationship with your network members and trying to establish a one on one relation with the members in your groups, especially the experts, will go in a long way in your SMO efforts.
6. Media platforms
It is very important that you focus on the right kind of platforms and communities that are relevant and related to your audience. You need to do a little bit of research here and find out where does your audience hang out? Some platforms are more effective in improving the SEO benefits of SMO than other platforms. Google plus is a pertinent example of this. Google is trying hard to give you all the credit for your shared links to the degree they deserve.
Optimization is a vast subject in itself and consist of a number of topics. Broadly speaking, if you make your share buttons prominent and make it easy for your audience so that they are able to share your content easily, then your job is then. This also adds to the social proof and by demonstrating a number of shares of your generated content, you are able to establish yourself as a thought leader and an authority. You should also try to group subscription options such as email, RSS and newsletters. In addition, making your audience to easily comment on say your blog post will also go in a long way in establishing your credibility and optimizing your content. Hence, you should use social login options to make it easy for users to comment. Also, besides all this, you should optimize your title tags for sharing, especially on Twitter, where there is a character limit and you should also include your name. Last but not the least, do try to include as many images as possible as pictures speak a thousand words. Include pictures that add value and can be used as a thumbnail for your content.