Social Media Optimization tips

Make the Most out of your Social Media Marketing Campaign

Editor’s Note: In the first installment of this series, Louise Rijk offered an overview of social media marketing, or SMM. In the second, she went deep into SMM, giving advice on how to start your own social media campaign designed to get more users and links to your site. In this, the third installment, Louise shows you how to optimize your content for social media.

Publishing for profit is a numbers game. You can’t just put up a site and hope people will find it and click on your contextual ads or affiliate links, or—if you sell online—make purchases. You have to market yourself and your site(s) aggressively. As far as contextual advertising goes, publishers often need 1,000 page views or more by highly qualified visitors to generate just $1 in revenue (though this is not a hard-and-fast formula).

Taking advantage of social media is one inexpensive (if sometimes labor intensive) way to help you get more visits and, hopefully, more clicks and/or sales. That’s why so many articles you read online these days—whether published by major newspapers or on an individual blog—have an RSS button or one or more links to social media sites like Digg, Reddit, Slashdot, MyYahoo!, or (like the one above).

Social Media Optimization
But there’s more to it than just offering a way for visitors to bookmark and tag your content. To get the best results, your content itself should be optimized to perform better in social media.

Social media optimization (SMO) is much like organic search engine optimization (SEO). Whereas SEO is designed to help leverage your content in organic search, SMO is designed to help achieve greater visibility on social media sites. Your content might be very original and provide high value for your target audience, but if it’s disorganized and you have not provided an easy way for visitors to pass it along the social web, it probably won’t be effective in your social media marketing campaign.

To implement SMO, you have to make changes to existing content, site usability, navigation and information architecture to make it easier for visitors to interact with your content and to help virally spread it through the social web.

SMO Tips
There are many ways that content can be optimized for social media distribution. Here are a handful of tips that you can use to implement social media optimization:

Content Creation

  • Continually create content that is relevant to your target audience and organized in a way that it can easily be found and passed on to others. Highly targeted, relevant content increases the probability that visitors will link to you and distribute your content via social media or email.
  • Update your content frequently with new postings and promote these through email, RSS feeds and directories (e.g., podcast and blog directories). A side benefit of frequent updates is that search engines may crawl your site or blog more often for new content. Similarly, the more you post, the more you’re likely to get indexed by blog engines like Technorati.
  • Adding an “About” page is a tremendous opportunity to cement a relationship with your site or blog visitors. It puts a human face on an otherwise technical, dry and impersonal page.


  • Write your content specifically for the web. Writing for the web means using short, scannable and to-the-point (focused) copy. In general, on the Web, people scan first to sniff out the main points and then, if necessary, comb the page for more details.
  • Write attention-grabbing headlines that pique the interest of your audience. This is really important when you optimize content for voting sites like Digg or Reddit, because visitors often decide to vote for your content based on the headlines.
  • Put the information-carrying words in the beginning of the headings and sub-headings, and make the headings not wider than 60 characters. Copy Blogger offers free expert headline writing tips.
  • Don’t write in an over-promotional or exaggerated fashion. Credibility is more important.
  • Use the two-sentence test on web site copy. Ask yourself whether somebody reading the first two sentences on your page will take away the information you want to convey.

Copy Formatting

  • Use well-established web formatting techniques, such as bulleted lists, numbered steps and short scannable paragraphs to improve readability. Short paragraphs should be under five sentences. Each paragraph should have one topic sentence and one idea.
  • Use bulleted lists when items require no particular order and numbered lists for step-by-step instructions.
  • Vertical lists are more effective than run-on lists at conveying a sequence of events or ideas. Use vertical lists when you have four or more items to emphasize. Shorter lists are generally overkill.


  • Don’t use non-standard links and navigation. As much as possible, follow standard link conventions. Make obvious what is clickable: For text links, use colored, underlined text (and don’t underline non-link text). Avoid using colored underlining text for anything that isn’t a hypertext link. Differentiate visited and unvisited links.


  • Implement tools and functionality that encourage interaction, e.g., blog commenting, a feedback form, polls and surveys. This allows your visitors to participate in and expand the content on your web site or blog.

Viral Content Optimization
Make your web site or blog content viral. For example, instead of the traditional “Send-to-a-friend” message, consider the following:

  • “Tell your friends” is better than “tell a friend.” Suggest telling five or ten friends instead of one. Use multiple address fields, instead of just one, so that the message can be easily passed on to multiple people.
  • Make your content available through RSS feeds. Make sure you put the RSS subscription button in a prominent place. Also provide an explanation on what RSS is, and instructions on what visitors need to do to subscribe to your RSS feed.
  • Make tagging and bookmarking easy, by including language that encourages users to tag, bookmark and vote for your content.
  • Broadcast new posts in a newsletter to your subscription list.

Message Optimization

  • Make an offer sound exclusive (“Only three (what-evers) per customer”).
  • Make content into a gift that participants can give to a friend by offering coupon codes for discounts, samples, freebies and so forth