What is SMO? Develop Your Social Media Strategy in 8 Steps

Most publishers have only completed 1-2 of these 8 crucial SMO steps

what is smo

What is SMO? Social Media Optimization (SMO) is the process of optimizing your content and your business for social media.

Typically, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes first. This is the process of creating content that has been optimized for some set of keywords that your target audience is looking for.

SMO is what to do with that content after it has been produced, and it’s not easy. If you want to be successful in social media, and you want your content to be read, clicked, and shared, then it takes as much work as any other task. To get the most out of your social media efforts, keep reading.

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1. Create a social media style guide.

Before anything, pull down your editorial style guide and highlight anything that might apply to social. For example, don’t just look at, say, how you capitalize words, but also look at how you handle competitors. Some brands are happy to retweet and comment on the Tweets of their competitors, or share a related post from a small blogger as a way to build loyalty between brands and encourage reciprocal sharing. And some are not OK with that one bit.

2. Pick a platform.

We like CoSchedule. It’s a WordPress plugin that allows you to schedule social media directly in WordPress, on the same page as the article itself. If you’re a Mequoda client, you have Haven Social, which is powered by CoSchedule. Hootsuite is another option which works great for businesses because they offer reporting and it allows you to assign different tasks to team members.

3. Assign responsibilities.

As you know, the age of the Internet has turned editors into marketers who are responsible for their content. This applies to social media, too. Unless you are a powerhouse publisher that can afford a room full of social media specialists, then your editors will most likely be running your social media. First of all they know the content best, second of all, they’re already grammar savvy and probably won’t let out any typos.

If you have an online marketing team though, they might have secure jobs in social media. For example, maybe your Managing Editor just writes the Tweets, and your marketing team is responsible for editing the Tweets, scheduling them, sending out promotional Tweets, and brand building beyond just content marketing. Or maybe your Managing Editor does it all. Anyway, use this step to determine who does what, and especially, who hits the “send” and “schedule” buttons. If you have the budget, it’s worth it to hire a social media specialist to get more out of your social media efforts.

4. Create social media formulas.

What is SMO without structure, right? By now you know we’re all about the 12x12x12 method. Write twelve unique Tweets for each article. Schedule them for 12 days. Then schedule them for 12 months. For an entire year, your article will be promoted and you only have to do it once. For Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest or Instagram, write two unique posts. Schedule on the first day, then again in six months.

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5. Create a series of non-promotional posts.

What else will you publish as part of your SMO strategy? For example, on #ThrowbackThursdays, People sometimes posts old covers of their magazines. Martha Stewart sources ideas from their Facebook fans for future issues. Be creative and come up with a series of images you can share, that will provoke comments, likes, and more shares. These will be the keys to increasing your Facebook visibility.

6. Decide what to do with premium content.

A metered paywall works hand-in-hand with social media. With a metered paywall, you can promote all of your premium content without frustrating users, because they’ll get access…until they don’t. However, hitting your paywall after their credits expire will remind them how often they want to read your content, and eventually a percentage of those social media users will convert to paid subscribers.

7. Integrate social media into your advertising packages.

Another use for social media is advertising. Publishers are beginning to include sets of social media posts, or co-sponsored posts as a part of their ad packages. If you decide to do this, remember that advertorial guidelines still apply and you must add #ad or #sponsored to your post or make it abundantly obvious that the post was paid for.

8. Create a social media calendar.

Once all of the above is figured out, it’s time to create your social media calendar. This will be your structure and it will look a lot like your editorial and email calendars combined.

  • Editorial posts get posted on the same day they’re published (plus scheduled out into the future)
  • Promotional posts get posted on the same day they’re emailed out to your email list
  • Branded posts will get posts on the days you determine
  • Ad posts will also get posted on the days you determine

Set your editorial and marketing teams up for success by creating this calendar. It will give them a checklist of sorts, so that they know exactly what’s going out and when. There are a lot of balls in the air at all times when it comes to social media, so structure will turn it into a more enjoyable process. One where your editors and marketers look forward to creating social posts that get clicked, rather than just trying to get social off their plate while they attend to other duties.

In fact, set your team up for success by following this entire list in order. Social media optimization gets a bad rap for being easy, which is a joke to anyone who has ever done it. It’s only easy if you’re doing it wrong. Do it right instead.

What is SMO for your organization? Leave a comment below. 

Over the past two decades, we’ve guided more than 300 niche publishers through the process of transforming themselves from legacy print publishers into multiplatform operations that often dominate their industry niche and generate operating margins that surpass those created by their legacy print business. Learn more about how we can help you apply these strategies to your publishing business by scheduling a FREE consultation today.

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