Like search engine optimization (SEO), social media optimization (SMO) is all about getting your website and content found online. Instead of targeting the search engines, you're going after social media networking and bookmarking sites. Closely allied with viral marketing, SMO aims to spread the word about your brand, your ideas and your products and services by word of mouth, i.e. by referrals from people like you in the online places where they hang out. As in all things social, there are generally agreed upon rules of the road that can help you to understand and benefit from SMO. What are the key tools and best strategies for social media optimization?
- Blogs - You want to get found online? Get busy with your blog. Blog early and often. Target your niche audience and wow them with interesting and helpful content. Blend your blog with SEO by using keywords relevent to your business and strengths in the blog title, headings, content, images and tags.
- Social Media and Feed Widgets - Use these buttons on your blogs and other web content to make it easy for people to subscribe to your blog rss feed and recommend you to friends via social networking and boomarking sites. Here's a great freebie.
- Social Networks - Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn along with any and all niche community sites that make sense for your business. Examples are Yelp and FourSquare for small businesses, restaurants and shops.
- Social Bookmarking Sites - Digg, Delicious, Stumbleupon, Reddit and many more. Here's a list of the top 20 to start with.
- Blog Directories - There's a ton of these. Here's a good list.
- Video, Photo and Slide Sharing Sites - YouTube, Flickr, SlideShare, the list goes on. This is a rapidly growing segment, so don't ignore it.
- To borrow from Nike, "Just Do It". It's a daunting task, but you must be everywhere at once. Create your great content, promote it using all the tools above and do it every day, if possible. Engage, engage, engage. You will see a direct correlation between effort and results.
- Give first. Give often. Ask later. Your leverage in social media is you, not your brand and not your stuff for sale. Be real and be accountable. Help people and ask for their help. This goes a long way towards improving your reach and loyal following. There is no substitute.
- Be creative. Nobody wants to hear about your pet peeves and projects day in and day out. Change it up. Break the rules. Tap into that class clown you buried years ago. Give people something fresh and interesting to experience. Again, no substitute. This one is the hardest for most people, but it's also the most rewarding.
What are your favorite SMO tools and strategies? I'd love to hear from you.