Tuesday, July 14, 2009

SMO Provides Unique Marketing Channel

by Julie Ann Ross

While SEO and SEM are the most frequently used methods of reaching a targeted audience online, social media optimization (SMO) is gaining momentum. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and similar properties that form the springboard for communities of like-minded consumers have reached a tipping point. Once a novelty, they have quickly dominated popular media. In the process, they have become the focus of social media optimization.

One of the reasons social media optimization has gained significant traction with companies is because it provides a unique marketing channel. Rather than depending solely upon traffic generated from specific search queries on Google and Yahoo!, a site can be positioned to enjoy a grassroots - and often, viral - marketing momentum. But, this strategy is not without challenges. To that end, here are the four basic tenets for a savvy social media optimization (SMO) campaign.

Tenet #1: Encourage Community Links

Consumers are starved for compelling content. White papers, blog posts, video and news feeds that inform or entertain (ideally both) are perfectly positioned to attract attention. Once such content is discovered, entire communities descend upon it and spread the word. As a result, a company's exposure and link profile can expand rapidly. Community links are one of the underpinnings of an effective social media optimization campaign. As the members of a community spread the word, inbound links grow. And with it comes a growth in organic traffic.

Tenet #2: Leverage Tags And Bookmarks

When sharing content with others in their community, people will always gravitate toward the path of least resistance. In the context of social media optimization (SMO), leveraging tags and bookmarks from popular social networking sites is critical. There is no shortage of plugins and scripts that allow your audience to share your content with a single click. Whether "tweeting" to their thousands of Twitter followers or seeding your content on YouTube, Flickr, or Facebook, these tags and bookmarks can help trigger a groundswell of exposure.

Tenet #3: Identify The Best Opportunities

Not every social networking site offers the same potential for a social media optimization project. Some sites cater to a younger audience. Other sites cater to a professional audience. The key is to properly isolate the target community given a company's product line. For example, a financial services company geared toward high net worth individuals would find limited success on MySpace. On the other hand, a social media optimization (SMO) campaign that targeted professional communities on LinkedIn might be more appropriate.

Tenet #4: Integrate Social Media Optimization

The advantages of a social media optimization project, while significant, often distract companies from leveraging SEO, SEM, and ORM. It's important to realize that effective online promotion is a confluence of all strategies. Not only does each use a different route to increase a company's exposure, traffic, and sales, but all blend seamlessly with one another. In effect, SMO- social media optimization should be integrated as one of several best practices.

The basic tenets that we've provided above do not comprise an exhaustive list. Indeed, they merely form the foundation of a social media optimization project. When carefully crafted, SMO can be used to gain access to communities that would otherwise lie beyond the reach of traditional marketing strategies.

About the Author

With 20 years in marketing, advertising and 10 years in internet marketing, Rostin Reagor Smith has refined the SEM SEO Expert Formula. Hundreds of internet marketing case studies have combined to build the formula that drives search engine ranking through Social Media Optimization, Online Reputation Management, Social Marketing and web 2.0 communities and resources. http://www.rostinreagorsmith.com