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Why I Cringe When I Hear The Term SMO or Social Media Optimization

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March 25th, 2013

social media optimization

SMO or “Social Media Optimization”

It’s widely used by social media service providers, professionals and often thrown around in conversations like “Hey you should consider social media optimization services for your website if you want traffic or results!”. Personally, I despise the term for the simple reason it implies in some way you can manipulate certain social media channels and “technically” adjust them to your website or brands benefit.

Social Media “Optimization”. I cringe when I hear the word since it seems to suggest a technical way to “optimize” or manipulate social media to your benefit. Clearly this SMO phrase caught on from the term Search Engine Optimization which in itself I have no qualms about. Search engines have been based on algorithms or an arithmetic logic which takes into consideration a number of technical factors. A website CAN technically be “optimized” for search engines by manipulating content, keywords, titles, descriptions and other elements. Ranking well in search engines and driving traffic through adjusting for better ranking results IS all about “optimization”.

Social Media however, is not purely about technical adjustments, manipulating social networks or sites for traffic. It’s not about optimization. It’s about communication, content, conversation, engagement & human interaction. You can use tricks, tools and technical manipulation to increase numbers of Facebook Likes, Traffic Stats, Get Followers, Increase Comments and show numerical increases in metrics (believe me: a number of “professional service providers” do!) but you can’t bank on technical manipulation to deliver real value via social media. THAT is done through “connecting with people”, engaging people, drawing them through the content you publish, interacting with them and bringing out a personality that audiences can identify with.

You can add a Facebook page, YouTube Channel, Twitter account and LinkedIn page for a brand or website but that isn’t going to help if there isn’t a compelling interaction across those channels and a strong enough lure to interest people. Simply creating RSS feeds, bookmarking accounts, accounts on every site doesn’t tap into the long term benefits of people actually connecting with your brand or what you do and as much as the SMO term is marketed as a technical service….it’s really not some purely technical process where someone can be hired to “optimize” your website for social media, leave and you’re all set. It’s a communication and content driven service which is ongoing in nature and focused on “people” and your website or brands interactions with them in the digital world just as you would network, communicate and interact with people in the physical world.

You’re either social. Or you’re not. You can wear a nicer shirt (optimize your appearance) hoping people will like you better but eventually its about your personality, the way you interact with others and what you say that determines how people take to you.

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