So you’ve baited the hook (with a helpful, regularly updated, well written blog). And you’ve optimized your content. Now you have to cast the line. This is where social media optimization comes in.
Social media optimization is about getting your content noticed by people who’ll link to it. This process is typically referred to as creating ‘buzz’.
In practice, the people most likely to link to your content are other bloggers. In order to keep their network of readers coming back, most bloggers update their blogs on a daily basis, so they’re always hungry for something interesting to talk about. And when they talk about it, they naturally link to it.
The trick to social media optimization is getting your content to appear prominently in the ‘places’ bloggers go for inspiration. As social media content creators themselves, it’s not surprising that they turn to social media for ideas. So to get their eyes on your content, you need a good understanding of social media, and you need to participate.
What is social media?
Social media is the umbrella term given to ‘places’ on the Internet where most – if not all – of the content is created by users, not webmasters. Social media services include the likes of:
|Message boards||Picture sharing||User Groups|
Because of the un-owned, unfettered nature of social media services, millions of people worldwide use them to express themselves, connect, communicate and share. To have conversations.
And because those conversations occur on what is intrinsically a broadcast platform (the World Wide Web), they are, by definition, one-to-many conversations.
This is the real power of social media. It combines the power of conversation between connected individuals with the power of broadcast.
Uses of social media
People use social media to share in all sorts of ways, but for SEO, the two key uses are:
- Communication – ‘Broadcasting’ updates to everyone in your network, e.g. “I just read a great article at www.domain.com/article.html…”; and
- Bookmarking – Saving links to your favorite content and sharing those links with everyone in your network, many of whom will bookmark it too. Importantly, many bloggers see a bookmark as a vote for their favorite content in an effort to get it listed on the ‘Most Popular’ page.
NOTE: This distinction is more a reflection of how we use social media for SEO, than it is of the social media services themselves. In practice, they’re used in much more sophisticated and subtle ways than this.
For more information…
- on the multitude of available social media services, see How to Leverage Web 2.0 & Social Media Sites to Market Your Brand & Control Your Message at SEOmoz, The 2008 Social Network Analysis Report – Geographic – Demographic and Traffic Data Revealed at Ignite Social Media, and The Conversation Prism by Brian Solis and JESS3. Also take a look at UserNameCheck.
Social media networks and communities
In the sense that the people who use social media services are interconnected, they form a network. But the term ‘network’ doesn’t even begin to convey the strength of those connections, the richness of the relationships they facilitate, and the meaning attributed to the network by its members.
While ‘network’ may adequately describe what you’d see if you mapped the interactions from a distance, it doesn’t really describe what it is, at all. What it is, is a community. A naturally evolved, continuously evolving community, with its own culture, dialect, rules, agendas, leaders and prejudices.
Having said that, I use the terms almost interchangeably throughout this book. Partly because sometimes I talk about the physical interconnectedness (in which case I use ‘network’) and sometimes I talk about the entity created by that interconnectedness (in which case I use ‘community’). And I’m sure there are times when I’ve just slipped up and used the wrong term!