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Is the time right for Social Media Optimization?

Dave Chaffey at the i-SCOOP Fusion Marketing Experience Brussels 2011
Dave Chaffey at the Tutorials.one Fusion Marketing Experience Brussels 2011

In this guest post, Dave Chaffey , speaker at Tutorials.one’s first two Fusion Marketing Experience conferences, looks at the core of social media optimization (well, as a European I should say optimisation like Dave does really). Is the time for Social Media Optimization or SMO now? And how do you develop a strategy?

With the importance of social ranking signals increasing in Google and Bing! Social Media Optimisation offers a more rigorous approache to make the most of social media marketing.

Social media optimisation or SMO isn’t a new term or a new approach, far from it. The term SMO was first coined in 2006 when Rohit Bhargava of Ogilvy New York wrote a post on 5 Rules of social media optimisation, describing elements of a service offered to their clients.

5 rules of SMO

He said: “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.

Popularity of services used within ShareThis site widget -Source – ShareThis – Starcom MediaVest survey June 2011 based on 7 billion shares
Popularity of services used within ShareThis site widget -Source – ShareThis – Starcom MediaVest survey June 2011 based on 7 billion shares

Search engine strategist Danny Sullivan endorsed it, as did many others. But times change, for example there was no mention of Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter in the original article. More recently Rohit has updated the concept, describing 5 New Rules of Social Media Optimization which I think are a useful call-to-action for todays online marketing:

  1. Create shareable content.
  2. Make sharing easy.
  3. Reward engagement.
  4. Proactively share content.
  5. Encourage the mashup.

The heart of SMO is a rigorous approach of test, learn and refine

With many companies now having different forms of social media marketing in place, SMO is a logical next step to improve the effectiveness of social media marketing. But which activities are needed and what are the marketing goals?

I recently asked readers of the SmartInsights.com blog about this and there was a split between those who felt SMO has the narrow aim of “using social media marketing to support SEO goals” (31%) and a broader aim of “analysis and improvement of all social media marketing activities to results” (40%).

I think all this shows that you have to decide for your organisation the main emphasis of SMO activity. For me, the heart of SMO is a rigorous approach of test, learn and refine. I describe it as a systematic approach to improving content effectiveness in attracting visitors and leads and engaging existing audiences through testing techniques to increase the visibility, participation and shareability of content.

Beyond the “5 Rules” there are other areas of social media marketing to test and refine through analytics and AB/multivariate testing such as identifying which types of content and frequency work best on different networks. We’ll need to include Google+ in our SMO soon.

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