What Is SMO? (Social Media Optimization)

While the term Social Media Optimization (SMO) is still inconspicuous, it is exercised by companies daily through Twitter, Facebook and other major social networks via social media commentary (businesses dialoguing with their fans and followers).  Coined by Rohit Bhargava,a founding member of the social media strategy team at Ogilvy & Mather, effective social media commentary is normally dressed with a link to the company’s site along with relevant keywords and/or hashtags.

Rohit Bhargava … creating of the term Social Media Optimization

Rohit Bhargava … creating of the term Social Media Optimization


At one time, SMO was forecasted to eventually overshadow the effectiveness of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is still the major component that many companies use to differentiate their business from their competitors within search engines. SEO professionals and their clients consistently create, research and drive unique keyword phrases to set their clients apart from the next business, but what if that isn’t enough? What if your main competitor is planted in the number one spot while you flip flop from keyword to keyword only to remain in the second, third or fourth spot?

B Culture Media recently wrote an article titled, “SEO vs. Social Media – Which is More Important?” Each of these digital marketing tools were analyzed to see which one more effectively brings more traffic to your website and ultimately increases the loyal following of a product or service. The conclusion was that even though SMO is important, it is obviously an extension of SEO and can’t stand without it. However, this doesn’t lessen the significance of using SMO. Millions of people worldwide use smartphones, laptops, tablets and desktop computers to access various social networking platforms (via apps) to get the latest information on products, events and services. People want short, concise information and don’t always have time to go to a business’s website to discover what they offer.

SMO is traditionally the implementation of relevant keyword phrases during social netowrking, but Twitter and Instagram member’s use of hashtags is also a major form of SMO. Twitter and Instagram give their members the ability to search by hashtag which are considered trending topics. Websites like What the Trend let you know what hashtags are being used the most during a particular day and allow the public to determine why the popular hashtags are being used so much.

Many companies are creating hashtags to assist in the branding of their company, product, service or event. Here at B Culture Media, we often close out our tweets with #BCultureMedia or #BCM to increase our visibility within Twitter. When Digital Atlanta hosted their annual conference in 2011, they promoted it with #DigATL and encouraged attendees to use the hashtag when attending the conference’s different forums. Some companies offer special discounts for their customers who tweet the specific hashtag that is tied to whatever the company is promoting. Celebrities like Tyrese have gone as far as wearing a shirt with their Twitter address to a major award ceremony to increase their Twitter fan base.

Tyrese at the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards

Tyrese at the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards

Social media optimization is not the back bone of online optimization but rather an extension of it. The popularity of social media allows businesses another avenue to engage with their customers while SMO gives their marketing efforts more direction. It also helps a business reach those customers that may not be fans or followers as of yet but shows the potential customers that the company offers what the potential customers are looking for. SMO-less conversation gets lost in the multi-dialogue jungle of this social speed- networking game.

@BCulture_Bianca