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Social Media Optimization

Social Media Optimization (SMO) is a part of Social Media Marketing (SMM), but it is not the same as SMM. While SMM canvases the entire consumer landscape, SMO targets only those areas that are beneficial to the business and receptive to the message being conveyed. Because SMO focuses on specific consumer areas, it is imperative that appropriate tactics and marketing campaigns be utilized. This ensures a savings of time and resources, and helps retain brand credibility.

There are several benefits of SMO, namely, improved reputation, increased sales, a larger number of page views, brand recognition, decreased bounce rates, etc. While these benefits can also be evidenced via Search Engine Optimization (SEO), SMO allows businesses to rely on more than just the search engines alone. By adding SMO to SEO, businesses introduce the human element into their name, and thus thrive from even greater brand recognition, sales, and web traffic. SMO and SEO work synergistically, enhancing each other with regards to both SERP and SM rankings.

However, in order to achieve these benefits, an optimization strategy must be put in place. A typical strategy begins with the following five questions, and each question must be answered correctly if SMO is to succeed. Tactics on how to answer each question correctly are also provided.

1. What is the goal of the Social Media Optimization?

SMO should always have a clear and defined goal, whether it is to generate product awareness, increase sales, or improve customer opinion. If possible, the goal should not only be qualitative but also quantitative (i.e., 30% increase in product sales).

2. What are the consumer demographics for the products being marketed? In other words, who is using (or likely to use) these products?

Ideally, this information should already be known through product and customer surveys. However, in the event that the products have not yet launched, it is imperative that some theoretical consumer data be gathered. Sometimes, product analysis is straight forward (young adult magazines will most likely be read by young adults), while in other instances, additional research is required (high-speed blenders might be purchased by wives, hospitals, and bartenders).

3. Where in the Social Media landscape do target consumers reside so that the marketing message can reach them?

Arguably, this might be one of the most time-consuming aspects of SMO, especially if one is not very familiar with SM. There are at least six major SM outlets, including those dedicated to social networking (Facebook, MySpace), photos (Flickr), bookmarking (Digg), articles (eZines), user generated content (Ciao), and videos (YouTube). There is a plethora of sites dedicated to each major SM outlet, with each site serving a specific consumer demographic. Unless one has expert knowledge of SM outlets and can identify the predominant consumer market for each major outlet, such a task may best be left to professional SMO service vendors.

4. How should the message be designed and how should it be delivered?

Once the appropriate SM outlets and individual web sites have been chosen, a marketing campaign can begin. This campaign should still employ target keywords, quality content, and be optimized for search engines. However, the marketing message needs to engage the readers' interest and be unique in some way. Since search engine bots are not the only "eyes" that will be scanning this content, the advertising campaign will have to engage consumers on a personal level, making them want to interact with its message and share it with others. Also, it is important that the marketing campaign not be viewed as "spam" by SM users. Spamming, either real or perceived, will quickly result in the company being banned from the SM community.
5. How will consumer response be measured?
Once the marketing campaign has been launched, consumer response needs to be measured and analyzed. In this way, future campaigns can be improved upon for even better consumer interest, improved sales, etc. Surveys, product reviews, and incentive programs are some of the methods that may be used to obtain feedback.

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