Social media optimization (SMO) is the process by which you make your content easily shareable across the social web. Because so many options exist for where people can view your content, the content model for the web has shifted from, "We have to drive as much traffic to our website as possible," to the more pragmatic, "We have to ensure as many people see our content as possible."

You'll still want most people to see your content on your site — and if you're doing it right they will — but helping people view content through widgets, apps and other social media entry points will accrue positive benefits for your brand. The more transportable you can make your content, the better.

Why Social Media Optimization Matters

Before we get to the practical, we can realize that social networks are driving an increasing amount of traffic to an increasing number of websites. How social referral traffic is performing for you most likely depends on two factors:

  • How interesting your content is; and
  • How easily shareable you have made that content across a variety of networks.

In other words, SMO can lead to increased traffic to your site, as friends encourage their friends to digest specific content. If you can appeal to a given person, their friends are statistically more likely to be interested in the same thing, so you're likely reaching a well-targeted audience.  Further, it also leads to improved search engine optimization, as major search engines count links as if they were votes for your site.

SMO isn't just about building a bigger social media presence for your brand. Whether or not your organization has a strong social network presence, the social networks of others can be leveraged to great effect.

Widgets and Badges: – Before the sudden ubiquity of Facebook's Social Graph, widgets were the go-to tool that allowed others to "grab" your content and share it on their blogs, Facebook profiles, MySpace accounts, and dozens of other smaller social sites or programs like iGoogle.

"Badges," on the other hand, don't necessarily have the "Get & Share" functionality.  Rather, they consist of an embed code that allows the user to add an image to their blog that links visitors back to your content.

Content Sharing: – While most experienced social media marketers now understand the value of social sharing and available tools like AddThis or ShareThis as these are handy tool that allows people to share to multiple networks at once without even leaving your site. This is an excellent way to socially optimize your content.

Social Sign In: – The goal of most websites is to attract visitors. Beyond that, you want the visitor to register. Why? Connected visitors tend to engage more than non-connected visitors — they've already engaged once by registering, after all. So if you can get the visitor to connect, you'll likely see more time on site, more pageviews, lower bounce rate and, if you're operating an e-commerce site, increased sales.

The traditional long and cluttered registration form is a bit of a pain in the neck for users, and Social sign-in can help solve this.

Social Commenting: – Leaving a comment on a site is nice. Sharing that comment with your social network is a traffic driver. Today, through programs like Echo, Gigya and Disqus, you can easily encourage people to share their comments more broadly.

Overall Strategy:- Given the importance of the referral traffic and the fact that many search engines, including Google, Bing and Scour are currently incorporating social actions into their search results, having a strategy for socializing your website and your content is increasingly important.