Social Media though an emerging term in the Internet Marketing circles, has grown its roots deep in the concepts of Search Engine Marketing and Optimization, and Web 2.0 standards, and is evolving with Web 3.0. To understand the core concept of Social Media and its optimization, it’s crucial to identify and analyze its connections with SEM/SEO, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0. The evolving needs of web users and alterations in search functionalities demand equal upgrades in SEO/SEM strategies, and as user is the main focus, there’s an ultimate need of full duplex communication between a business and the end user. On the other hand, Web 2.0 as it provides a platform for the execution of high end functional applications sets a base line for social media to grow and evolve. Further, as Web 3.0 is all about enhancing your online presence and the business are rapidly getting online, so they need to have a direct access to the end users.
Though the www represents itself as an example of global village, but the whole system cannot work in isolation, i.e. standalone websites, and thus it needs transformation of ideas and experiences into a platform. The platform that best meets the requirements of contemporary times is Social Media. And this origin of Social Media defines it as a platform integrating technology and social interaction in order to bring innovative solutions through user experience with less response time. But this integration and interaction do not result as innovation if the optimization factor is absent, i.e. if website is not visible to the targeted user, or the user is unaware of it in any way. This creates the need of Social Media Optimization, but what actually it is?
Social Media Optimization is an internet marketing technique that includes a number of methods to promote your product/service/business/website on social media. It can also be considered as an advanced form of viral and word to mouth marketing using web. In simple words, SMO is defining and executing strategies and methods to implement changes in order to optimize a website in a way that it is highly visible in social media searches and on search engines, and is frequently included in the relevant blog posts etc. SMO cannot be bound to have a general course of action, as it depends largely on the current trends, evolving concepts, and user to user varying requirements, but some common components of it can be listed as under:
• Video Sharing
• Social Bookmarking
• Social Networking
• Collaborative Ranking
• Rating Systems
• User Reviews
Now each of these components can either be used in a single context or in combination for better exposure, but the effective optimization of a site on social media needs a collaborative effort of all the components mentioned above. Though Social Media Optimization shares basis with SEO and web 2.0, there exists some complex differences, that need to be discussed for better results.
Starting from content, SMO demands quality, uniqueness and users’ oriented stuff as it’s needed for SEO, but when it comes to sharing, SMO allows maximum spread out of same information holding that as much as it’s distributed, the maximum credibility goes to you. This credibility results as linking on one hand and users’ trust on other. Bookmarking along with tagging, especially social bookmarking and tagging can play a vital role in helping content to travel round the World Wide Web. This content traveling works as WOM marketing, and as much as content travels, it increases the user base.
SMO encourages mashup, whereby data from different sources is enabled on a single platform, i.e. Youtube, Facebook, eBay, Google Maps etc. The content for mashups requires RSS or Atom Feed, and Screen Scrapping etc. Further SMO suggests rewarding inbound links, in order to expand the outreach.
Having an overview of Social Media Optimization, one can raise a question of its importance. SMO’s importance can be well identified from the benefits it rewards an organization, business, or an individual with. The level of benefits varies with the nature of business, but SMO rewards all sort of establishments, i.e. from a freelance developer to a software solution providing firm, from an individual to an organization and so on. And these benefits include:
• High visibility in the World Wide Web
• Users’ trust
• Brand building
• Accelerated product innovation via reduced response time
• Quick feedback and users’ credibility
• Reducing gaps between the business and the end user
• Development of and exposure to high end functional applications
SMO as it benefits, but only if it’s done effectively, and the effective optimization depends largely on how much social media trusts you. In order to optimize your site for social media, make sure that whatever you’re sharing on social media is of your targeted users’ interest, so that he must consider it, and before sharing content it’s better to find out if that particular social site is the best place to share or not. Growing your network by making new friends on a social site is very good idea, but loses its essence if one prefers quantity over quality. Being active, helping and having positive attitude make you prominent and your site a focus of attention. And above all voting for stories that let’s you express yourself: may develop the other members’ trust if you’ve gone through the site carefully and given your true opinion in the form of comment by reading the actual story.
Some things that should be avoided include, random posting, self promotion in any way, submitting your press releases, affiliate programs and clients’ projects etc, sending shouts for every item you share, and voting only for mutual friends.
In a nutshell, SMO provides a live and interactive exchange of information and resources benefiting both businesses and users, but optimizing a site on social media requires qualitative efforts, and time. Quantitative efforts aiming to get a move on to shorten the time and desire to see the overnight results may help one to have a short term visibility, but may also cut back on the development and trust.