Many businesses, entrepreneurs, and marketers perceive social media optimization (SMO) as merely a way to generate traffic for a website using social media. Today, social proof plays an important part in search engine ranking. Receiving content shares, likes, and comments informs search engines that your content has value, and deserves a higher ranking.
How often have you heard, “If you create great content, the social engagement will happen.” It is such an oversimplification of reality that it is almost lie. All too common are businesses focusing their SMO efforts on just content and site design—such as social buttons and commenting systems. However, SMO so must focus on the author’s online influence and authority, and a user’s experience on social media networks interacting with a brand, the author, and the content .
If you are looking to drive traffic to and awareness of your website, a vigorous SMO strategy will not just focus on creating good content, and a website designed for easy sharing. In order to receive the full benefits of social media, one’s strategy must include actions to improve search engine performance.
So, if you’re ready to discover the four SMO principles that separate the best from the rest, read on.
SMO Website Design
Your website design should focus on both making it easy for visitors to share your content, authorship, and the overall design. Content sharing buttons, social login options, and social commenting systems seem to be obvious to most for SMO. However, it does not end there.
Make sure your site includes all the appropriate tags identifying company/publisher and author. We want both the search engines and social media sites to know whose content it is, and who and where they are on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other sites. Search engines are looking at overall online authority, not just how often that one blog post is shared.
Also keep in mind that your overall design, not just the quality of your content, impacts shareability. If your site does not load quickly, and is weighed down with too many images, videos, advertising, and scripts, visitors become annoyed. If your site takes more than a few second to load, not only do you risk visitors leaving to find the information somewhere else, those that stay are less liking to share with friends and followers.
We all know content is king. This truth has been long known by search engine optimization strategists, but it is also true for social media optimization. One simply cannot get by with a static website that never changes. SMO grade content will be of high quality, engaging, and created on a regular schedule.
I think it should go without saying, one should always strive to make your content the very best it can be—whether the focus is informational or entertaining. However, where some fall short is optimizing content for engagement. Shareable posts will contain compelling titles, include tweetable quotes, have images. and will be long enough to be considered authoritative..
Having a consistent schedule will also gain you followers, increasing the possibility future posts being shared. You don’t need to blog every day or every week, but you will need to meet visitor expectations. One must give visitors a reason to subscribe, bookmark, and engage with your content.
Influence and Authority
The myth of “if you create good content, it will be shared” equates to “if you build it, they will come.” In the highly competitive world of online marketing, that tactic just does not work. You must be active on social media to build your reputation, authority, and leadership.
One must be actually engaged on social media, not solely focused on constant self promoting. It is called social for a reason. One must post at regular intervals, and you must also engage with others. The two most negative things that could happen to you on social media is being labeled either inactive or a bot.
Your brand’s online influence and authority relies on building a large following who will engage with you and your content. This will not happen if you are not following and engaging others, both in your area of expertise and your interests. It will also not happen if you do not show gratitude and appreciation for those sharing your content.
Building a Community
Building a social community is not the same thing as having a large number of fans or followers. Social media experts will often say, “It is better to have 100 engaged followers than 10,000 followers not engaging with your content.” This statement implies a bit of a false dichotomy, but the basic premise is true. Your “community” is a subset of your followers who you can regularly rely on to engage with you and your content. They are often super-fans, and the bread and butter of social media marketing.
Trust builds trust. Your social community may be those who are already clients, customers, colleagues, and friends. Your community will also consist of those who may have the potential of becoming clients, customers, colleagues, or friends. However, they are all identifiable as an elite group sharing your content and engaging with you on a regular basis. They may be a small percentage of your overall audience, but they will create opportunities for you.
The fundamental idea behind SMO is building trust and credibility in order to earn the right to sell to fans and followers. Does that make sense to you? Real people, who engage with your and your brand, will come to trust you, creating loyalty, and that brand loyalty creates interest in others—creating an ever growing sphere of influence.