Is social media optimization part of your digital toolkit?
SEO, meet SMO. Web publishers that have tuned their websites for search engines are now discovering benefits in optimizing their digital content for social media as well.
Social media optimization is not a new concept. Ogilvy exec Rohit Bhargava is credited with coining the term in 2006. Back then, SMO meant getting your content linked to from social-sharing sites such as Digg. But the platforms and practices around SMO have evolved, as Bhargava noted in a post last week. Now, SMO is all about generating referrals from Facebook (500 million users), Twitter (145 million users) and LinkedIn (70 million users).
SMO efforts are paying off for some digital publishers. Salon’s social media referrals are up 720% from a year ago. Facebook referral traffic has increased by 250% for ABC News and 80% for Canada’s Globe and Mail (according to Facebook).
The referral growth is not surprising, considering how consumers’ online habits increasingly revolve around their social graphs. New research from Nielsen shows that Internet users spend 23 percent of their time online on social networking sites and blogs, a 43 percent increase from a year ago. Online games were a distant second, with 10 percent of time spent online.
Not surprisingly, there’s a growing ecosystem of developers and service providers – including some publishers – offering tools and SMO services. Tech publisher IDG recently added social optimization to its custom media service offerings. A startup called Gigya, founded in 2006 as a developer of widget tools, has repositioned its business around social media optimization.
Authentication, content sharing and metrics
Gigya's technology enables publishers to integrate features such as authentication and content sharing across multiple social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The company plans to add mobile capabilities to the next version of its Gigya platform, which it plans to release in September.
Gigya’s most important feature may be the trove of analytics it provides help publishers measure their social media performance and learn more about the users who are promoting their content. Available metrics include connected users (new and existing) by platform and downstream referral traffic by platform. By tagging content, publishers can generate deeper levels of insight into what people are sharing and how.
“Publishers can track in real time what content is being shared the most and driving the most traffic back to the page,” said Ben Pashman, Gigya’s senior vice president of business development. “That could influence the look and feel of the landing page.”
A custom URL shortener provides additional metrics for upstream traffic – the content users are tweeting or “liking” from the publisher’s site. Appending this information with a validated email address and cookie make the data actionable for ad targeting – for which publishers can charge premium CPMs, said Pashman.
As part of its September upgrade, Gigya plans to add a feature for ranking “influencers,” based on the amount of sharing each user does with a publisher’s content and how much traffic those actions generate.
“Advertisers will pay more to reach the most influential users,” said Pashman.
Adobe, one of Gigya’s investors, is developing a custom plug-in for integrating Gigya with Adobe’s Omniture analytics. Publishers can also use Gigya’s API to integrate the reporting module into Google or other analytics packages.
Gigya charges approximately $1,700 a month for its hosted service. The company's customers include Reuters, CBSi, The New York Daily News and Fox News.
6 key metrics for a social media measurement dashboard (SearchEngineWatch)
Facebook best practices for journalists (Facebook)