One of the major challenges of online marketing is communicating the value of new techniques such as corporate blogging, SEO, or social media optimization. Uninformed superiors are often wary of marketing tactics they don’t understand.

If you think you’re ready to ride the wild wave of social media optimization but your boss is still skeptical, here are a few points that can help increase his or her familiarity and, hopefully, willingness to give it a try.

It’s just another channel. List out the ways you market your website to your customers. You might use PPC, SEO, banner ads, email, online press releases, and the like to drive your message online. Offline, you might use radio, television, yellow page listings, newspaper ads, fliers, billboards, etc. These are all examples of marketing channels. Each has its own unique advantages, disadvantages, best practices, and success metrics. Social media optimization is no different.

It has its own rules. Even though it’s just another channel, social media optimization can’t be treated in the same way. Much like blogging, SMO is collaborative in nature. Branding messages and hard sales pitches are not well-received. The best approach could be described as mingling. Go out and talk to your customers on neutral ground. Get personal. Share something with them that is genuinely exciting, entertaining, or useful outside the context of commercial interest. Praise and reward those who bring attention to you. You may not get conversions (at least, not directly), but your brand as a whole will benefit.

It’s a lot of work. On the flip side of those who doubt SMO are those who think it’s a magic pill to ease all of their online marketing woes. It’s not. Social media optimization requires painstaking content creation and networking to pay off. It’s a lot of work with uncertain returns. Care should always be taken when determining what marketing strategy is best for the goals you have in mind.

It’s volatile. Traffic from traditional online marketing comes in steady streams; traffic from SMO comes in tsunamis or droughts. You may submit a piece of Diggbait only to have it languish and die in Upcoming, or it may hit the front page and bring in tens of thousands of visitors that overwhelm your server. It’s boom or bust; there is no in-between.

Much of its value is indirect. Social media traffic is notorious for low conversion rates. However, it’s important to consider the many indirect benefits of an SMO surge. For starters, it gets thousands of eyes on your brand. If they liked what they saw, that good impression may result in conversions at a later date. These visitors may also link back to your content, improving your search rankings. It’s true that this makes total value hard to measure. Whatever the real value is, though, you can be sure that it’s higher than the conversions generated off of the initial flood of traffic.

3 thoughts on “Explaining Social Media Optimization to the Uninformed

  1. Companies that spam digg, reddit, etc… are the worst. It’s the scattershoot approach, and rarely works unless you have a power digger behind you. And Digg has redesigned its site recently so that you get even less SEO benefit from it now.

  2. I totally agree. Spam is bad, and social media spam is the worst. However, I’d argue that social media optimization, done correctly, is never spam. Sure, there’s a commercial interest motivating it, but a properly-optimized article will still be valuable and linkable.

    Much like SEO, those who work against the system will suffer, while those who work with the system will benefit.

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