There’s no denying that social media is now vital to any business’s marketing strategy. Brands can engage in real time with their customers, piggyback on global news events, join in with conversations worldwide, and chat and post and share around the clock
But even huge corporations get worn out by the sheer scale of social media, and for small- to medium-sized businesses the digital overwhelm is, well, overwhelming. Which is where social media optimisation comes in.
SMO uses social media to generate publicity for a company’s products or promotions. As with search engine optimisation (SEO), the goal is to boost web traffic and improve a site’s visibility. By optimising your website and its content, you will encourage social sharing – and word will get out about what you are offering.
SMO is not the same as SEO – for a start, Google has for some years denied that it factors Facebook likes and Twitter tweets into its rankings. (Although this might not always have been the case: in 2010, a company insider suggested that social signals had played a part in rankings.)
These days, the relationship between social signals and improved website rankings is correlation rather than cause, the search engines say. In other words, if a lot of people are tweeting about your content, it’s likely to be good – and in that case, it’s also likely to show up in other measurements. One thing Google has made clear is that quality content is increasingly important for boosting your ranking.
Nevertheless, a solid and focused social media strategy is important for your website. If you create vibrant, interesting content, people tend to share it – and if they share it widely enough, who knows what valuable backlinks it could earn? Plus, social activity often appears in search engine results, meaning a second bite at the cherry.
Optimised social media is also valuable in its own right. While getting likes, shares and retweets for your latest blog or new holiday might not necessarily lift your website ranking (at least not directly), it will increase brand awareness, and could encourage new customers to click through to your site and buy. And with people increasingly likely to want to make purchases directly from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest that is an important consideration.
With only so many hours in the day, smaller companies must make every minute count. SMO focuses attention and directs effort to where it can make the greatest impact: their websites and search-engine ranking. And by narrowing the almost limitless options available on social media, it helps to manage that digital overwhelm.