Social Media Marketing (SMM) and Social Media Optimization (SMO) are two new phrases that popped up last year to define marketing through social media and social networking sites. There seems to be a lot of confusion about what each of them mean and what exactly they define, which is bound to happen with any new phrase.
Even when potential clients contact us there seems to be a lot of confusion between the two. I see them as two different emerging marketing techniques. When the phrase Social Media Optimization was first invented by Rohit Bhargava, some people didn't agree with the phrase and instead suggested that we rename it to SMM.
I'm not trying to point fingers at anyone though, even I am guilty of making the same mistakes; when I jumped on the original SMO meme-wagon and added some rules of my own I added one about creating viral content. I would no longer classify that rule as SMO and instead would now classify it as SMM. In my opinion creating something new is more about marketing than it is optimization. In light of this confusion, I am going to make an attempt at clarifying the two phrases.
SMO refers to the process of refining a website (optimizing it) so that it's awareness and content are easily spread through social mediums and online communities by users and visitors of the website. This can include anything done "on-page" such as improving the design and usability of the website so that it becomes more compelling to users, in an effort to help them spread it through social media sites. The simplest example of SMO is represented by all the "digg this" and "add to delicious" icons and links that are all over the web today.
SMM on the other hand plays more of an active role in relation to social media by referring to the creation and distribution of content and other messages through the social web by some form of viral marketing. This can be anything from creating compelling content that gets bookmarked and even hits digg's homepage to spreading a viral video by putting it on YouTube and other social media websites. It's about the things that are done off-site, for example, participating in online communities where your customers hang out would be an active role that falls under SMM.
In some ways the two remind me of the differences between push vs. pull marketing. But only a little bit, and I have to be careful what I say here. In a way with SMM you are actually pushing your message out there, but that's usually where the pushing stops. Once you push that message out there it should not require any more pushing. A true viral marketing campaign is so good that it spreads on it's own and people actually want to spread it, so the push usually ends with the creation and initial "planting" of the campaign. SMO is all about pulling people in with an "optimized" site and encouraging visitors to spread your content without any effort on your part. I think the clear difference between the two is that SMO refers to on-page modifications (on your website) while SMM refers to activities that take place outside of your website (on other websites). As I see it, SMO can be one of the ways to encourage SMM activities by users and visitors of your website.
I would love to hear what other people think about these ideas about social media optimization and social media marketing, does my explanation make sense to you, or do we need to go back to the drawing board?
1. Increase your linkability : Think blogs, content, aggregation & linkbait.
2. Make tagging and bookmarking easy : Include calls to action for users to tag, bookmark and Digg your stuff. I’d suggest the Sociable Plugin if you have a Wordpress powered blog.
3. Reward inbound links : List blogs which link back to you via permalinks, trackbacks or recently linking blogs (like the Yahoo & Google blogs do).
4. Help your content travel : Content diversification can lead to mobility of your content beyond the browser.
5. Encourage the mashup : Let others use your content or tools to produce something a bit different or outside of the box with your stuff, even RSS.
6. Be a User Resource, even if it doesn’t help you : Add value and outbound links, even if it doesn’t help in the short term, it will in the long.
7. Reward helpful and valuable users : Give your contributors and readers the recognition they deserve.
8. Participate : Get in there and get involved in the discussions going on among the blogs and sites of others, and do it organically. Earn your rep on Digg.com, don’t try and force it.
9. Know how to target your audience : Understand your appeal and those people you wish to attract.
10. Create content : A little bit of rules 1 & 4 here, but the underlying message is know the form of content working for you.
11. Be real : Transparency pays off and no one likes a fake.
12. Don’t forget your roots, be humble : Sometimes it can be easy to get carried away being a BlogStar or industry talking head. Remember those who helped you along the way, and that respect will help all involved.
13. Don’t be afraid to try new things, stay fresh : Social Media is changing and morphing by the minute, keep up on new tools, products and challenges in your social sphere.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for websites has been honed into a fine art with entire companies devoting considerable effort to defining best practices and touting the value of SEO for raising a site's performance on organic search listings. While I believe in the power of SEO, there is a new offering we have started providing to clients which we call Social Media Optimization (SMO). The concept behind SMO is simple: implement changes to optimize a site so that it is more easily linked to, more highly visible in social media searches on custom search engines (such as Technorati), and more frequently included in relevant posts on blogs, podcasts and vlogs. Here are 5 rules we use to help guide our thinking with conducting an SMO for a client's website:
Increase your linkability - This is the first and most important priority for websites. Many sites are "static" - meaning they are rarely updated and used simply for a storefront. To optimize a site for social media, we need to increase the linkability of the content. Adding a blog is a great step, however there are many other ways such as creating white papers and thought pieces, or even simply aggregating content that exists elsewhere into a useful format.
Make tagging and bookmarking easy - Adding content features like quick buttons to "add to del.icio.us" are one way to make the process of tagging pages easier, but we go beyond this, making sure pages include a list of relevant tags, suggested notes for a link (which come up automatically when you go to tag a site), and making sure to tag our pages first on popular social bookmarking sites (including more than just the homepage).
Reward inbound links - Often used as a barometer for success of a blog (as well as a website), inbound links are paramount to rising in search results and overall rankings. To encourage more of them, we need to make it easy and provide clear rewards. From using Permalinks to recreating Similarly, listing recent linking blogs on your site provides the reward of visibility for those who link to you
Help your content travel - Unlike much of SEO, SMO is not just about making changes to a site. When you have content that can be portable (such as PDFs, video files and audio files), submitting them to relevant sites will help your content travel further, and ultimately drive links back to your site.
Encourage the mashup - In a world of co-creation, it pays to be more open about letting others use your content (within reason). YouTube's idea of providing code to cut and paste so you can imbed videos from their site has fueled their growth. Syndicating your content through RSS also makes it easy for others to create mashups that can drive traffic or augment your content.
Social media optimization (SMO) is a set of methods for generating publicity through social media, online communities and community websites. Methods of SMO include adding RSS feeds, adding a "Digg This" button, blogging and incorporating third party community functionalities like Flickr photo slides and galleries or YouTube videos. Social media optimization is a form of search engine marketing.
Social media optimization is in many ways connected as a technique to viral marketing where word of mouth is created not through friends or family but through the use of networking in social bookmarking, video and photo sharing websites. In a similar way the engagement with blogs achieves the same by sharing content through the use of RSS in the blogsphere and special blog search engines such as Technorati.