Over the last year or so, “social media” has quickly become the next “big” thing online. A plethora of social communities with names like Digg, StumbleUpon, del.icio.us, Wikipedia and YouTube have popped up to connect people who share common interests.
As impressive as all that may sound, what does it actually mean to you, the operator of a small- to mid-sized ecommerce site? What benefits can you reap from social media optimization (SMO), and how should you approach it?
First, let’s review what SMO is. In a nutshell, social media optimization is the use of any sort of content that creates buzz within a specific community and attracts audience participation.
A good example is Digg. At this site, Digg community members identify news stories and articles they like by “digging” them or express dissatisfaction by “burying” them. The upside is that stories with a large enough number of “diggs” make it to the front page of a website that can attract literally thousands of visitors within a very short time period.
Let’s take another example. StumbleUpon is a service by which users suggest websites they like in specific categories so other users can randomly check them out at their leisure. The name comes from the site’s toolbar, which allows people to “stumble” from site to site within the preferred category. If you create a profile and consistently recommend interesting sites of good quality, then your recommendations will begin to carry weight and eventually may help you promote your own website.
Each social media website has its own twist and attracts a slightly different audience. Each is likely to have different requirements for content or websites if they are to be “optimized.”
The benefits of exploring these opportunities include large surges of traffic (landing on the front page of Digg brings as many as 20,000 visitors within a few days), potentially hundreds of new backlinks that can help in your other SEO efforts (viral content spreads quickly and attracts attention from others), and company exposure to a brand-new audience.
Social media optimization is an intricate and complex process. Here are a few resources for additional information:
The Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Optimization
Social Media Optimization: 13 Rules of SMO