A Beginners Guide to Social Media Marketing
Social Media Optimisation (SMO) is creating quite a buzz as an alternative to traditional SEM or as Lee Odden puts it, a ‘traffic alternative to Google‘. The concept was first defined by Rohit Bhargava and has recently been coined into Social Media Marketing (SMM) by SeoMoz.
Although widely accepted as SMO in the SEM world, I am with SeoMoz that SMM is a far more suitable and self explanatory acronym. SMM describes the relatively new SEM strategy that enables others to easily comment on, tag, link and eventually share or bookmark an article or post on a social networking site, such as del.icio.us or digg.
Examples of SMM
There are a variety of social websites that can assist in bringing more inbound links, traffic and exposure for your brand and website. Digg, Technorati, StumbleUpon, Squidoo and Wikipedia are all capable of generating oodles of inbound links. SeoMoz provides quite a substantial list, detailing 25 of their most valuable sites that will help with your SMMing.
Like any successful SEO campaign, the key to SMM is having valuable content that people want to link to, discuss and share.
SMM, a new SEO link building technique for Web 2.0?
Web 2.0 has provided search engine marketers or social media marketers with a wide array of one way link building opportunities. The emergence and popularity of social networking sites, such as Digg and del.licio.us, has made social bookmarking and social news sites perhaps as important as the more traditional link building methods, such as press releases, directory & article submission – I would say perhaps even more so, with endless opportunities to lay down some ever so valuable linkbait.
Aaron Wall of SEOBOOK.com and the founder of the term (I think?) linkbait, has recently expanded his views on various linkbaiting opportunities that will no doubt help with SEO & link building efforts for the web 2.0. Cheers Aaron.
Ok enough rambling and back to the question, is SMM a new SEO link building technique for Web 2.0? I think the answer is kind of. SMM certainly shares some similarities to SEO, but also many differences. SEO focuses its attention on getting traffic from search engines, whilst SMM from social networking sites, making it a great alternative to Google.
I really do like Danny Sullivan’s simple definition: ‘SMO: it’s like SEO, for social sites‘. He then asks the question, ‘how SMO friendly is your site’? A question I think many search engine marketers are now asking too!
How can I hitch an SMM ride, I hear you ask?
Firstly, you need to understand the Rules!
Yes, SMM/SMO has rules and a good port of call to kick things off is with Rohit Bhargava’s well publicised 5 SMO Rules of Social Media. These rules seem to have gone down well in the SEO world, with a variety of bloggers adding to the growing list. Loren Baker supplies 8 more SMO rules and Lee Odden develops the list further with 3 more of his own, to bring the tally up to 16.
Moving away from the rules for a moment, I really liked Daniel Riveong’s take on the rules and how to get SMO success. He assumes there are two underlying SMO success assumptions:
- The New Ruleset: If the Social Media is about ‘Engaging People’ and ‘Conversation’ why are we reading still reading [sic] just the Cluetrain Manifesto? We should be reading ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People‘ as well. Read up on it. Can you see how it applies online?
- The Equation: ‘engagement + authenticity x audience reach’. Logic+Marketing has covered this and so has Scott Meyer at SES San Jose.
I agree and in fact this has inspired me to order a copy of ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ too. Nice one Daniel! He then comes up with 5 suitable themes to throw into the mix.
- Understand, Cater, and Help Your Audience
- The Internet is Alive, Make Your Web Site Alive Too
- Treat the Audience Like People!
- Social Media is Not a Tool, It’s Today’s Internet Culture
- The Internet is More than a Webpage on a Computer, What about You?
And the Rules:
- Increase your linkability (Rohit’s Rules 1-5)
- Make tagging and bookmarking easy
- Reward inbound links
- Help your content travel – Content Diverification Beyond Web Pages
- Encourage the mashup – E.g. Portability of YouTube Videos on MySpace
- Be a User Resource, even if it doesn’t help you (By Jeremiah Owyang)
- Reward helpful and valuable users (By Jeremiah Owyang)
- Participate (By Cameron Olthuis)
- Know how to target your audience (By Cameron Olthuis)
- Create content (By Cameron Olthuis)
- Be real (By Cameron Olthuis)
- Don’t forget your roots, be humble (By Loren Baker)
- Don’t be afraid to try new things, stay fresh (By Loren Baker)
- Develop a SMO strategy (By Lee Odden)
- Choose your SMO tactics wisely (By Lee Odden)
- Make SMO part of your process and best practices (By Lee Odden)
That’s a lot of guidelines and there is a growing SMO community where bloggers like to discuss and share their views of what exactly SMO is.
The next step – Apply the Rules!
I think the rules have been discussed enough within the cummunity, so let’s have a look at how they can be applied:
- Blog it Up! Oftentimes we are writing excellent content, but target it more for Google, than your average Joe Bloggs (excuse the pun!). Joe Bloggs may be interested in your product or services, Google isn’t! Joe Bloggs may participate, contribute or write about your blog, Google won’t! He may even start the ball rolling in helping build up your social network, influencing influential bloggers to share and further discuss what you have to say. Know your target audience and blog for the Joe Bloggs of your community and Google will follow. Yes, you still need SEO, but why not blend it in with a nice bit of SMM?
- Digg it Up! Social Bookmarking/Networking sites are a great search engine alternative in attracting visitors and links. Make it easy for visitors to subscribe, digg, bookmark and share your stuff! Stuntdubl shows you how to Digg it Up!
- Tag it Up! Make sure your pages have relevant tags associated to it and that they have been submitted to the social bookmarking/news sites that you wish to target.
So where does this leave SMM?
SMM, as I am sure you will agree, certainly has a bright future as an alternative SEM strategy for boosting traffic, that isn’t dependant on the big ‘G’. In fact, if combined with linkbaiting it can result in loads of exposure and links and we all know Google likes links! So it’s a double whammy really, more traffic through search engines and more as an alternative.
SMM and 2007?
Britopian Marketing posted an interesting article indicating that SMO is becoming mainstream. The article points out that Ad Age has recently released a Search Marketing Fact Pack that outlines SMO as the 9th out of 12 SEO strategies for 2007.
Through spending much of my time rummaging through the various SEO/SEM blogs, on a daily or perhaps even hourly basis, I would say SMO or SMM should be in the top 5 for SEO strategies for 2007. I suppose it really comes down to how you define it. Its lethal combination with a well thought out piece of linkbait may even put it in pole position for the New Year. What are your thoughts?