November 27, 2010

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What is SMO and Why Does it Matter?

As an online marketer, you’re probably well aware of the importance of search engine optimisation or SEO (if not, check out our guest series here). You also may have noticed a similar acronym popping up recently - SMO, which stands for “social media optimisation.”

Social media tends to rely on users rather than search algorithms to promote content, so the idea of “optimising” your content for the social web might sound strange at first. But the fact is, you’re probably already implementing a number of SMO strategies without even realising.

Wikipedia strips the definition of SMO down to two key points: social features added to content, and promotional activities.

Social features might include things like adding an RSS feed to your blog or allowing visitors to share your content via tools like “retweet” buttons. The promotional activities your undertake as part of SMO usually take place outside your website. These include things as simple as commenting on other blogs or highlighting your content via a status update.

By now, you’ve probably realised that SMO is already a big part of your daily online activity. But how do you make the most of it?

Back in 2006, marketing blogger Rohit Bhargava coined the term “social media optimisation” and set out five SMO rules:

1. Increase your linkability. In other words, make sure you have content that is worth people’s attention in the first place.

2. Make tagging and bookmarking easy. The easier it is to share your content, the more people will do so.

3. Reward inbound links by mentioning those people who link to you somewhere on your website.

4. Help your content travel by offering content such as PDFs and videos that can be easily added to other websites.

5. Encourage the mashup. In other words, don’t be afraid of people re-using and re-working your content. As long as you’re attributed somewhere, it will usually result in more attention for you. 

Since 2006, more SMO rules have been added to the list, bringing the current total to 16. Luckily, anyone who blogs interesting content regularly and participates in at least one online community is probably following many of these rules already.

If we had to choose the most important rule for agents, it would be number nine: “know how to target your audience.” That’s because the better you understand the people in your local real estate market, the easier it will be to find them online, provide them with interesting content, and ultimately create leads and sales.


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