When thinking about how to use Social Media Optimization (SMO) to build your business, the best approach is to forget about the trendy title and associated buzzwords and focus instead on what SMO really is. Social Media Optimization is essentially harnessing the power of word-of-mouth advertising on the Internet. Word-of-mouth advertising works because it’s a recommendation from someone you know in the community whose opinion you are more inclined to trust.
SMO works the same way but it is facilitated and accelerated by the popularity of online micro- and macro-communities like blogs, forums, and social networking sites like FaceBook, MySpace, YouTube, and countless others. The salient point here is:
People will be more inclined to talk about your business, share their opinions, and give you invaluable feedback if you’re easy to find online.
So how do you accomplish this? Participate in these communities and create communities of your own. Like anything else, the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. Here are some ideas to help get you started:
- Define your target audience – and find out where they like to hang out online. This may take some time but do some industry-related searches and look for blogs, forums, and other places where the people you want to reach are likely to be found.
- Create profiles – on popular social networking sites like MySpace, FaceBook, etc. This costs little or nothing to do, gives good inbound and outbound linking opportunities, and gets the name of your business out there where it can be found easily.
- Participate in blogs, forums, and social networking sites. –Be yourself, offer your opinions, give constructive feedback, and include the URLs of your company website and profiles on other sites in your signature, if appropriate. Start slowly, get a feel for the unofficial social protocols of the site, and make sure that when you do post suggestions or ideas, you are adding something interesting or of value to the community. Be careful not to overdo it though, you’ll be the new guy for a while until you’ve built credibility.
- Add a blog or forum to your site – and give people an easy way to contact you and share their views. Stimulate discussion by adding new content on a regular basis about upcoming events, promotions, Internet-only coupons, etc.
- Include social bookmarking tools – on your site like Digg, StumbleUpon, Del.icio.us, and others which make it as easy as possible for people to bookmark and share your content with other people. Social bookmarking is impulsive, if you make it easier to do, it’ll happen more often and you’ll get some quality links in the process.
- Make videos and submit them – to popular sites like Flickr, YouTube, and others, and put them on your profile pages. These don’t have to be expensive or elaborate, just make some demonstration or how-to videos that are related to your business.
These are just a few ways that you can use Social Media Optimization to build your business. Most of them cost little or nothing except time and effort but the benefits can be significant. Start at your own pace, keep it simple, learn the ropes, and have some fun with it!