Social media optimization: sharing is caring

The broadcast model of brand content marketing has been giving way to the conversation model supported by social media. As a result, things are bit trickier now and brands are held up to a higher level of accountability because social media allows consumers to have a voice which can carry just as far or even farther than any brand voice.

Social Media Optimization (SMO) is a formal name for something that many brands do at least in part, even if they are not aware they are doing it. I’ve been reading a whitepaper from UberVU about this and there are some insights worth sharing with those new to the idea of SMO.

In its most basic form, SMO consists of such things as RSS feeds from your blog, a tweet button and Facebook “like” button. You should also be using such things as blog tags and optimized titles and meta descriptions to make your content “discoverable”. If your site requires a login then you might want to consider Facebook Connect as the user authentication method.

SMO means making it easy for people to share your content across different channels such as StumbleUpon, Digg or Twitter and yes, you do have to make it easy. Don’t underestimate the power of social sharing sites either.

Remember Ted Williams? He was the street person with the amazing radio voice who was video taped by an Ohio newspaper. The video didn’t get much action until a reader posted it on YouTube and shared it on StumbleUpon. Once he did that, the video drew millions of views in a matter of days and Ted became a media darling for a time. Sadly, the publishers of the paper didn’t have the vision to see the value of this and promptly shot themselves in the foot by having the video taken down.

What’s the difference between SEO and SMO?

SEO is aimed at driving traffic to a specific website, while SMO builds a web of interactions around your content. This is done via people sharing the content on multiple social networks. Done right, SMO means people will carry your content and your message beyond your site. No one is saying that SEO is less important or becoming less so compared to SMO, but you do need to have an overall strategy which encompasses both.

If your corporate blog is running on WordPress then you have tons of free plugins available to help with Social Media Optimization. With a few clicks of the mouse you can add sharing buttons to your blog and make it easier for your community members to carry your content to others.

Take a moment to look at how other successful brand blogs do this. You probably have some brand which you envy for their ability to get people sharing their content via such channels as Twitter and Facebook. It’s likely you’ll see some common factors among those sites which are having success with social sharing.

I hate to use “Barney the Dinosaur” for an example, but he was certainly right when he said that sharing is caring. If you want more people to care about what you have to offer then make it easier for people to share what you have.