First we had SEO and now we have Social Media Optimization or SMO.
What is social media optimization?
Social Media Optimization is the ongoing process of making sure your entire business is social-friendly. A growing number of consumers use social media in many areas of their lives and it’s essential to be shareable if you wish to effectively market your business.
By the end of this article you will know what social media is and you’ll also be able to start optimizing your business right away. Included are examples of how social media optimization has worked for other businesses and ways you can use the same strategies for your business.
You understand that social media optimization is important so take this plan and grow your business today!
Why Social Media Optimization Matters
Today we’re in a new paradigm. Businesses have long been able to push messages to customers as a way to earn a purchase or a conversion. The change now is that customers have more control. Sure, you can still send direct messages like email. In fact, email still works really well, but the key is that you need permission to send those messages.
The customer is in charge.
The new term for the paradigm is the customer journey or the buyer’s journey. The customer is doing research online. They’re asking for input from friends, experts and others regarding the purchase of anything.
Companies that understand this journey are getting involved during the entire process and that’s where social media comes in. Social media is part of the early stages (and the later stages) of the buyer’s journey.
Imagine this, a consumer realizes they need a new television. They don’t know much about televisions, but they noticed their friend just purchased a great looking television because of a photo posted on Facebook. The customer goes online to research the TV. They read descriptions, customer reviews and they poke around forums, blogs and social networks for information.
Finally the customer enters the store or even uses an ecommerce site to make a purchase. A few days after having the television in their home the customer posts a photo on Facebook and Twitter.
Social media is a crucial part of the buyer’s journey and in order for your company to succeed you’ll need to understand social media optimization.
Here’s a rundown of how you can make social media optimization work for you.
SMO and SEO Work Together
Search and social are now connected. Over the last few years search engines have been including social aspects in the results. A major change was adding video previews from YouTube and other video websites. Google also shows +1 counts in the search results and you can see results based on people in your circles on Google+.
Social media sites themselves are search engines as well. People are using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to find social media content. At one point Twitter was getting more searches than Yahoo and Bing.
How can you optimize for search and social?
Optimize Titles and Posts: Everything you post on a social network can earn attention through search and people are searching for specific keywords. Use the keyword research you have for SEO and use it for SMO as well. If you are targeting a specific keyword for PPC and SEO also create Twitter posts, Facebook posts and maybe even a Pinterest image for the keyword. Use keywords in your post titles so it’s easy for people to find the post.
Repurpose Content: Different social communities are interested in different forms of content. Say you create a blog post that ranks well for a search term. To build on that success you can repurpose that post so it’s more social-friendly. Turn the post into a video for YouTube. Create an infographic to share on Twitter. While posting links to your website on social networks is fine it’s better to repurpose your most successful content in a way that caters to each social media audience.
Listen to Social Media Language: Chances are your customers are using social networks. To optimize content for them listen to what they’re saying on social networks. For example, follow 100 people that fit your target customer on Twitter. When they ask questions that relate to your business create content that answers the question. Create a blog post and share it on Twitter. Odds are high that person and others will be following you and will find the content worthwhile. Use a great title and a relevant hashtag and people that are searching will find it too.
Understanding Social Networks
Every social network is different. Twitter has become a way for people to get immediate news. Facebook is a place for family and friends to stay in touch with each other. Instagram is an app that allows regular photographers to create amazing photos with a few simple steps.
To have your business ready for social media optimization you need to choose the right social network. You can certainly try to invest in every social network, but a more practical approach is to invest your time in one, two or maybe three networks.
Here is a review of the popular social networks. Use this guide to help you determine the social network or social networks that are the best fit for your company.
Facebook: This is obviously the biggest social network presently. Businesses have found success gaining large followings on Facebook in a variety of industries. Facebook users like to share photos and they also like to argue. If your business goals cross with these two things Facebook is a great opportunity.
Twitter: People use Twitter to get the latest information on a variety of topics. Twitter has become news-focused, but content of all kinds is shared on Twitter. Celebrity content is shared quite often, but marketing content is shared as well.
LinkedIn: This site is an online network for professionals. The site is now more than just an online resume. Users can join groups and can share content as well.
YouTube: This is really not a social media site anymore. It is a place to share your videos so your target audience can discover them.
Pinterest: This social media darling grew fast and quickly became a place for people to bookmark images from all over the web. Most users are female. Food, apparel and design are big items shared on Pinterest boards.
Instagram: Like Pinterest, Instagram quickly became a social media star. Instagram was originally just an app for the iPhone, but is now a website as well. Users can share photos and make them look cool by selecting filters. Businesses can gain a following by posting interesting photos. Gain followers by using hashtags, interesting titles and by following your target customers.
How to Optimize Your Business Website
Socializing your business website is the next step in social media optimization. This process involves making it easy for your current customers, subscribers and followers to share your content whether that includes blog posts, products or anything else.
Social Account Links: If you have a company Facebook page, Twitter account or Google+ account you’ll want to link to those locations. The three most common locations for these links are the head, sidebar and footer.
Social Sharing Buttons: On specific pages on your website you want to have sharing buttons. These buttons allow people to publish items to their social accounts. Include sharing buttons on your blog posts. You’ll need the assistance of a designer or programmer potentially. The buttons are available on each of the social media sites. You can also use plugins made specifically for sites that run on WordPress.
Other pages for sharing buttons include product pages, but there is debate around this issue. If someone is on your product page looking to purchase do you really want to distract him or her with sharing buttons? After all, you want them to add the item to their bag. A better location would be the order confirmation page. After a customer orders a product they are more interested in sharing.
Using Social Content: There are a few ways to use social media content on your site. You can embed videos, embed Twitter feeds and posts and include posts from social media sites. If someone mentions your business on Twitter, for example, you could embed the tweet on your site. You could also thank the person and let them know you included it on your site. They might tweet it again!
Comments, Reviews and User-Generated Content
Something social networks have used to increase usage is to allow websites to integrate. The networks opened up their APIs to allow websites and businesses the chance to integrate comments, reviews and other user-generated content.
For example, some media websites have integrated the Facebook commenting system to their websites. When a person comments on an article the comment appears in their Facebook feed where it attracts their friends to the article.
This trend will continue because it’s a win-win for the social network and for the website. The network gets more exposure on websites throughout the web and the website gets exposure on the social network.
Comments are one way, but reviews and other user-generated content are used as well from all the social media sites.
If your business has a strong following on Facebook it would be advantageous to integrate something like Facebook commenting on your company blog. If you’re struggling to get comments it makes sense. A person can read your post and feel more comfortable leaving a comment because they’re likely already signed into Facebook. They can easily leave a comment.
That comment will then show to friends on Facebook, which could lead to more discovery for your business.
Social Media Content Strategy
Social media optimization revolves around content.
Think about social media like a radio tower. Your website is the tower and you’re sending and receiving messages from all over the social web. You create the content at your central location, which is your website, and send that content out to the various networks. In the meantime, your content is shared with others and people are sent back to your website.
Some of the biggest companies in the world (Coca-Cola ) are investing in content. The future of marketing revolves around creating content that can be found online. This includes through search engines and social media.
The first step is figuring out what your business goals are and how those align with acquiring customers. Next, determine the best social networks for your company and start creating content for those networks. It might be blog posts, images, videos or a combination of everything.
The point is that your social media optimization strategy starts with the content you create and own on your website.
Social media optimization involves everything your business does to acquire more customers through social media. The content you create for the various social networking sites all needs to be optimized to ensure it is found by your target customers.
The steps above should prepare you to get started with your social media optimization efforts.
Determine the social media sites that are the best fit for your company. Once you have that determined get to work creating content. From there you can socialize your company website so content can be shared and found across the web.
Continue the practice of creating content and you’ll see benefit from both social media and search.
In the new online world search and social work together and if you optimize correctly you can see tons of traffic and new business.
Do you have questions?
Leave a comment below.