Social Media Optimization (SMO) or Social SEO is the methodization of social media activity with the intent of attracting unique visitors to website content. SMO is one of two online methods of website optimization; the other method is SEO.
There are two categories of SMO/Social SEO methods:
(a) Social media features added to the content itself, including: RSS feeds, social news and sharing buttons, user rating and polling tools, and incorporating third-party community functionalities like images and videos
(b) Promotional activities in social media aside from the content being promoted, including: blogging, commenting on other blogs, participating in discussion groups, and posting status updates on social networking profiles
Social Media Optimization is related to search engine marketing, but differs in several ways, primarily the focus on driving traffic from sources other than search engines, though improved search ranking is also a benefit of successful SMO.
Social Media Optimization is in many ways connected as a technique to viral marketing where word of mouth is created not through friends or family but through the use of networking in social bookmarking, video and photo sharing websites. In a similar way the engagement with blogs achieves the same by sharing content through the use of RSS in the blogosphere and special blog search engines.
Social Media Optimization is considered an integral part of an online reputation management (ORM) or Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM) strategy for organizations or individuals who care about their online presence.
Social Media Optimization (SMO), is not limited to marketing and brand building. Increasingly smart businesses are integrating social media participation as part of their knowledge management strategy (ie. product/service development, recruiting, employee engagement and turnover, brand building, customer satisfaction and relations, business development and more). Additionally, Social Media Optimization is oftentimes implemented to foster a community of the associated site, allowing for a healthy business to consumer relationship.
According to search engine expert Danny Sullivan, the term "social media optimization" was first used and described by Rohit Bhargava. Bhargava's original five rules for conducting social media optimization are:
- Increase your linkability
- Make tagging and bookmarking easy
- Reward inbound links
- Help your content travel
- Encourage the mashup
- Get communities connected
Several authors added new rules to the original post. Today there are 16 rules, which were translated into French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, German, Japanese, Greek, Portuguese, Russian, Hebrew and recently also in Thai.
Four years after the initial post, Rohit Bhargava posted an updated set of five new rules.
- Create shareable content
- Make sharing easy
- Reward engagement
- Proactively share content
- Encourage the mashup
Around the same time, entrepreneur and blogger Ben Elowitz proposed as SMO as a broader set of online marketing strategies for all published websites in an era where social platforms are ubiquitous.