SMO defined as Social Media Optimization is actually nothing but an Information Age term for an age old and proven business growth tactic – word of mouth advertising. An example of the power of word of mouth, or referral marketing would be you driving home from work the same way each and every day and when you pass a newly opened restaurant you might think to yourself “Wonder if that restaurant is any good’ . You may continue to pass that restaurant for months to come, until one day at a BBQ, you come across your neighbor who tells you he/she went to that restaurant and was simply blown away by the food/service. If you are a foodie, then at that point you are likely to make a decision that you are going to visit the restaurant at the next opportunity; maybe as soon as the next day. Word of mouth can be that powerful! In today’s fast paced technological world, marketers have the added advantage of fueling word of mouth not only locally, but on a global scale, and that too in a very short time! One just needs to adopt the revolutionary tools provided by the Information Age.
SMO does just that! The monitoring of social media content and strategies help enhance the online traffic inflow and lead generation statistics emerging from word of mouth. In the wake of soaring popularity of social media tools, this is being heralded as one of the most important internet marketing strategies. SMO covers almost all of the new-age social media tools – from Facebook to Twitter, YouTube to Instagram, Pinterest to Digg, and everything in between.
SMO is being considered as this decade’s answer to SEO. As a matter of fact, one of the most powerful advantages of SMO over conventional SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques is its high potential for viral marketing and penetrative reach which goes far beyond SEO.. With SEO, the strategies, goals and possibly even the results have been defined and set, which can be a good and safe thing. In contrast, SMO is not limited by any such rules, and neither do the traditional ways of advertising on social media sites. So if you had been thinking of hopping onto the SMO bandwagon just to take a ride around the block, think again! If done the wrong way you might just end up damaging your brand image and reputation rather than enhancing it.
The fact that every day, hundreds of new users are signing up as members in various social media and networking portals, showcases the potential of the medium. The internet is creating sort of a cocooned society. Think about it… what can you not get online these days? With such powerful tools at their disposal, people are spending increasing amounts of time in the virtual world. They are craving for social interaction, and tend to rely on their ‘virtual friends’ before they decide to get involved further into a cause, or buy a product or service. A substantial portion of these social media fanatics are out there for information and knowledge-sharing, which was the case with traditional media a couple of decades back (same story different medium!). This has created a huge opportunity for companies and individuals to promote themselves and their products, in an entirely new and powerful manner.
The level of trust shared between social media users is quite high. This allows discreet advertisements disguised as fellow-user reviews the opportunity of getting much better ‘click-through’ rates compared to traditional SEO techniques. Diligent postings on social media sites can help promote your product, as well as boost your traditional SEO campaign. So yes you need the stability and reliability of SEO, but it would take a great SMO strategy to supercharge it.
In spite of the whole process seeming so simple, real and measurable success can only be achieved through professional execution of social media optimization strategies. Some of the often ignored rules that define an effective SMO campaign include:
- Target the Right Niche Group – Setting up an SMO campaign ion Facebook when your niche consumer group is set in Brazil can upset your lead generation tactics. Why? Because Orkut is the more heavily favored social networking tool among Brazilians compared to Facebook. In short, choosing your target group and thereafter the right social media platform is a crucial requirement for a successful campaign.
- Join in – Join in on a conversation and discreetly promote your product or firm, rather than barging in on one. Remember that users will trust a review or subtle promotion from a fellow-user more than a PRO trying to promote his firm’s services to people who are not yet familiar with him/her.
- Compelling Content – Develop content (traditional content, videos links and tweets) that makes for a compelling read. Make sure that users can refer to you more as a resource than a promotional profile. It might not provide immediate profits, but will provide you with a huge advantage in the long run – mutual respect and trust – the very factors that help drive an SMO campaign (or word of mouth promotion) through.
- Encourage Cross-platform Mash-ups – Make sure that people or potential clients who follow you on Twitter or Facebook can have easy access to your official YouTube channel or MySpace profile. This will ensure a much more penetrative reach into the consumer base, especially if you have a limited budget and restricted alternatives for marketing your ideas/services or products.
- Linking – Links are basically your currency for buying success as far as an SMO campaign is concerned. And just like real currency, you should not waste your links. This means placing them in context and maintaining a healthy ratio between resource-links and promotional ones. You will soon find that people actually look forward to what you have to say ‘socially’ instead of being despised by fellow-users, like most of the overly-promotional firms online.
In today’s age, branding is largely social, and SMO is one of the most responsive tools for developing a powerful brand. So don’t delay, start today!