A few days ago I was part of an interesting discussion (while I was at work it was not directly about what I do) about the value and importance of SEO (search engine optimization for the uninitiated) and emerging value of SNO (social network optimization-could I be coining that one?).
Contextually, if you have a website, blog or some other kind of online presence-the traffic you derive from people either hitting a bookmark or typing your URL into a browser is not all that valuable. The reason being that you have a core audience, and that is really not going anywhere. The traffic your derive from someone finding your content from a search engine though is new to you, and a chance to grow your audience–and increase your reach.
There are very specific strategies you can take to optimized your content to index better on search engines–this is a science after all. If you are able to get into the 70% range of traffic from search engine referrals, you are in pretty good shape–this means when someone opens Google, Yahoo, Bing etc and enters a search term you get a click. If your content is good, perhaps three or four clicks.
And the analytics for referral traffic is pretty mature. You know which search engines work for you, which pieces of content index best and which terms are driving into your site.
Social networks though are a little tougher to predict. The analytics side on referrals is solid, but the variables are in the way URLs are crafted for social networks and the way they are shared.
I read recently (in an email from a friend) that one of the networks drives eight click throughs for every piece of content that is posted on Facebook. Think about that math for a moment. One million people see a specific piece of content and 10% share it with their Facebook wall. So 100,000 Facebook posts are generated from a piece of content. Eight people click on each of those 100k postings-generating 800,000 new visitors to your site. You have almost doubled your audience by doing nothing more than having a piece of content that your customers want to share. (This math does not include any clicks generated from your Facebook Fan Page).
So, now the subjective question, how do you optimize for social networks–and should you optimize for every social network or focus on one or two?
Since people who write blogs like these like to create lists of best practices here’s mine on this question:
- Understand your audience. Know the demographic and make up of your audience. This will help you make the right choice on which social networks you should focus on.
- Automating links and sharing them to Twitter and Facebook is simply social network clutter. Get real people to engage with your content and share it. Those real people can be you and your team-but this is social networks and people who use them don’t want to “bott’d” to.
- Be active–on Twitter RT someone’s posting of your content, on Facebook comment (don’t just like) someone’s posting. Help foster your community.