Social Media Optimization (SMO) – a Rundown

99% of all advertising sales pitches occurring at this very moment are ranting about the need to produce an ad that is “viral.” Viral marketing has become one of the most over used buzz words in the advertising and marketing industries.

The concept is simple, create an advertisement/marketing strategy that is unique and creative and people will tell each other about it. The demographic penetration is much deeper than traditional advertising and the conversion rates are often much higher. It is probably the most cost effective way of advertising today.

The internet has become a huge key to viral marketing, the speed, convience, and sheer number of people on the internet make it a perfect medium for viral marketing to spread like wildfire. With the intenet being a keystone in the viral marketing puzzle a new occupation has been born, brother to the Search Engine Optimizer and sister to the Search Engine Marketer… and it is named “The Social Media Optimizer (SMO).”

So what is Social Media Optimization?

Social Media Optimization is simply the practice of ensuring that a website, article, or video is primed to become a part of social media applications. This sounds simple, however it will become essential as more people start opting for user recommended content and websites over search engines. This is the wave of the future of internet browsing, and the companies who plan now will benefit first and with the greatest amounts.

But how does it help?

It really is quite simple, lets look at a website for poker tips. Looking for a quality poker tip website on a search engine will more than likely bring up thousands of affiliate marketers trying to get money by convincing you to sign up for an online poker service. This is borderline spam, and not relevant for someone who simply wants to find tips on how to bluff at poker.

A more effective method is for the same user to search on a social bookmarking website. Social bookmarking websites are a method of book marking pages you like online, and you have the option of sharing your bookmarks with the rest of the internet. Bookmarks are categorized with TAGS. Now sites with more bookmarks are considered more relevant, so when you search for “poker tips” , you are confronted with the most popular sites with the TAGS “poker” and “tips.” Instead of getting highly optimized spam, you get sites that have 300+ people have bookmarked and voted for.

Clearly a better model, and as more people use these services they will only become more effective.

So how do you optimize for this?

It really takes a different strategy that traditional SEO; calls to action and convenience are the keys right now. Giving important pages a “Digg this page/article/post” and “Bookmark this page” icons go a long way towards making it easy for users to bookmark your page in addition to reminding them that “Hey, you may want to come back. Why not bookmark it?”

The creative methods are going to be more effective, as it will be a balance between putting a user off at shameless self promotion and having them ignore or skip over your hints to bookmark/dig the page with others.

What about Digg or Netscape? and Netscape have a social news system. Users submit stories, and the stories with the most votes (or “diggs”) are promoted to the front pages to be confronted by a massive swarm of traffic, social bookmarking, and often generates quality backlinks as a result.

While you could add a “digg this” plug-in to a page and call it optimized, to be effective you must take a more strategic approach. Much like link baiting, the trick is to create a story/page that people will find interesting enough to give it votes after visiting it. If your page is really well optimized for Digg/Netscape then it should also be interesting enough to bookmark and link too.

Much more difficult than reminding users to bookmark your page, it is a lot more effective in generating links, credibility, and social bookmarks.

Doesn’t this open a can of worms?

Yes, potentially SMO could turn into a blackhat method of spamming the social media applications/platforms. Someone armed with 25 digg accounts and a proxy list could easily get a story promoted to the front page of Digg. One could write an application that signs up for hundreds of accounts and bookmarks a list of pages under specific tags.

However as these services are refined, it will become increasingly more difficult to pull these stunts off with out detection. As social bookmarking grows the amount of accounts needed to gain top popularity for sought after keywords will grow to a level where it will stretch beyond the realm of feasability.

What are some other Social Media Platforms?

There are several ways to use social media to gain targeted traffic, links, and bookmarks. Including:

and the list goes on…

Start optimizing now, and the benefits are just around the corner.