The rapid growth of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, is bringing about a shift in focus for the online presence of businesses. The new focus is being dubbed as social media optimization (SMO) by industry experts. Some feel that SMO may become more important to businesses than SEO (search engine optimization).
A future where the number of hits on a website is less important than the size of the network an organization has built on sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn may not be that far off.
That is not to say that SEO strategies will not be important as well. People are still going to go to Google and search for products and services they want or need. However, there are some distinct advantages that SMO holds over SEO.
The use of social media gives organizations a chance to change interactions online from having mostly a transactional nature with no personal touch, to ones that build a relationship between a business and their clients or prospects.
People are more likely to buy from someone they know, like, and trust.
With so many people using sites like Facebook and Twitter, people are almost expecting that a company has a presence on these sites. The advantage for a business owner is that those who do use social media sites tend to use them on a very frequent basis.
For example, statistics show that of the more than 140 million users of Facebook, over half of them use it on a daily basis. With the creation of applications that allow people to log on to these sites right from their cell phone, users today have such easy and convenient access to these sites that it seems unlikely that those trends will decline anytime soon.
Video marketing sites like YouTube and Vimeo can give an organization a chance to put a face with a name. Many business owners today are recording short messages about their products and services to share on these sites. These videos give them all the benefits of a television commercial without the high cost. In fact, some research is showing that many people trust a simple video shot with a handheld camera even more than a corporately produced, high priced advertisement. There is something about simplicity that people like and trust.
The use of these social media sites can easily be intertwined. A video shot on YouTube can then be embedded into a Facebook page. A Twitter account can be used to broadcast a message to followers and let them know about the new video on the Facebook page. All of the sites will have links pointing visitors to the organization’s main website. In this way, organizations can stretch their reach farther than ever before.
Another advantage to business owners is the viral nature of social media. A user of Twitter may “retweet” the broadcast of a business they are following. Now instead of a business just reaching its followers, it is reaching the followers of their followers. Some of them may pick up the message and decide to send it on to their followers. A message on a Facebook page may attract comments from the “fans” of the page or they may choose to share the message with all of their friends. The activity of those fans will be broadcast on the news feed of each of their connections. It may attract interest from those connections. They may choose to visit the organization’s fan page and become a fan as well. Their activity might then peak the curiosity of their friends, and so on.
In this way, social media can give a business organization a super-charged version of word-of-mouth advertising. There is no more powerful form of advertising than hearing an endorsement from someone you trust. People may not talk to all of their friends and family on a weekly, monthly, or even yearly basis. However, if they post something on a social media site that they are a member of, chances are all of their friends and family who are one of their connections on the site will see it within a day or two.
The business organizations who embrace this change and start to really invest in their social media presence will find themselves far ahead of their competitors who jump in much later.