Social media optimization (SMO)

Search engine optimization for improving the impact of organic search and conversion rate optimization for web pages are well-established techniques. But the equivalent technique of Social Media Optimization has never gained traction as a skill or technique within businesses despite it being suggested by commentators for a long time. This seems a missed opportunity so, it’s worth reflecting on your optimization process.

The concept has been around at least since 2006 when the search engine marketer Danny Sullivan first used it and brand strategist Rohit Bhargava developed his 5 rules of SMO not long after.

So what is SMO? Both of these commentators mainly used it more to refer to the approach of improving content quality and integrating social media activity into your website. While these activities are useful to consider and we will review them, we believe the process of SMO should focus on improving the main activity which marketers responsible for social media focus on, that is improving social media company pages and creating social media updates that are shared on them.

We define social media optimization as:

A structured approach to review and improve the effectiveness of social media platforms with the aim of increasing followers, follower engagement and post amplification to meet your social media channel goals of brand awareness, brand preference, leads and sales

The challenge of social media optimization compared to SEO or CRO, or even email marketing to which it is most similar is that it is difficult to identify a control to compare to. However, you can still use a more considered approach to improve results.

Consider your process, which of these activities could you look at to improve your process? Activities to consider include:

  • Benchmarking your approach to different companies both in sector and beyond
  • Ideation of new approaches by brainstorming, selecting and logging new approaches to test
  • AB testing of social posts using tools like Buffer and Hootsuite to compare post impact
  • Monthly reporting of business impact and tests, for using reports referencing Google Analytics or Social media dashboards


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About Smart Insights

Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of digital marketing advice site Smart Insights. We’re a publisher and learning platform that helps our 150,000 active members in over 100 countries plan, manage and optimize their digital marketing activities by applying the actionable advice in our planning templates, guides and interactive e-learning tools.

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