SMO: Social Media Optimization


Most people in business has heard, worked on or paid for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) on their websites. SEO attempts to setup a website in a such a way that when search engine bots and crawlers visit your site, they are able to find, index and eventually display your information well. Here’s how Wikipedia describes it:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. Typically, the earlier a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, and industry-specific vertical search engines.

But a new science/art is emerging along with the growth of Social Media, I have heard it called SMO for Social Media Optimization. SMO is about an individual or organization’s strategy to drive traffic to a website, event or even to a retailer. It’s usually a well-coordinate effort and yet a bit unstructured so it feels more organic and spontaneous than a sleek marketing push.

When done well SMO comes across as serendipitous and not forced. However, the key is in the execution. Soles4Souls is a shoe charity and a client of my company. S4S gives a pair of shoes every 12 seconds all over the world. Recently, Zach Braff and Donald Faison, stars of the television comedy “Scrubs,” created a viral video for “50000 Shoes” (, which gives 100% of its proceeds to Soles4Souls. Jessica Simpson sent out a tweet to her million+ followers minutes after the 50000 shoes website posted Zach and Donald’s video and almost instantly, thousands of people watched the video and, subsequently donated to the cause. Simultaneously a press release went out to major media outlets and S4S’s Myspace and Facebook fans got blasted with the news. The video player on the fund raising site is branded with the 50000shoes url and has a share feature that allows for it to “travel” through the internet and keep its branding everywhere it goes.

However strategic and professionally executive this campaign was, most of it came to many in a simple tweet or text message from a trusted friend or celebrity:
“This is so funny. Check out my friends Zack Braff and Donald’s funny video at”

For people who are contributor and friends of the charity it took another slant:
You must see the fundraising video the guys from Scrubs put together for us.

I have seen other plans executed using the same approach from Thomas Nelson as Mike Hyatt, the company’s CEO and his team pushed Andy Andrew’s book “The Noticer” up the best selling list and kept it there several weeks through a well executed SMO.

How are you using social media beyond personal connections?

  • Jonathan Landry

    This is great information. I work for a large organization but social media is still not used well and misunderstood by a lot of people as a waste of time. Would you be willing to come and talk to our team?

  • @Jonathan,Yes,I think I can help. I've been speaking a lot lately in conferences and organizations about understanding the power social media has for business and growth. Email me at

  • Lisa

    Great insight as always. I need to help our staff to coordinate our tweets and retweets that would help drive more traffic to our site when we have new information there.

  • Interesting… as I live and work outside of the USA, I have some questions/opinions. I've noticed that SMO's are successful when championed by celebrity or large company. (especially in the USA) They are less successful in Europe when championed that way. The European success has been on a cause that is pushed viral. Is there any examples of an SMO that wasn't championed but viral? Are there any significant differences? Can an SMO… truly go "global?" I think it can if championed by a celebrity… if done by someone more global than Jessica Simpson. (her yellow cousin Bart would do better! ;-)) But I don't believe it could be a success… outside of a "nitch" market.So how can a Global NGO utilize SMO, when you have to break it down a target audience based on language, education and income… who's only commonality will be the internet and belief?

  • @Jonathan, The whole idea behind a successful SMO campaign is that it appears organic and not forced. In your case, I would look at the influencers in your culture, and I would define them as individuals with large social networks whether they are celebrities, bloggers or business people. The point of SMO is to drive traffic, and hopefully qualified traffic to site, retail, or event using social connections over paid traditional media outlets.

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