Social media optimization: 9 quick tips to improve your SMO today

Social media is not your grandma’s cactus that you can water once a month. In fact, it’s more like a fragile orchid, in need of regular (and constant) tending. And that’s lucky for us, since social media is our job. It wouldn’t be much of one, if it were a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing. 

That said, the time-intensive nature of our industry means that there’s never enough time in the day or days in the week: we always want to do more – to see our posts perform better. And that’s where social media optimization (SMO) comes in: In a social landscape that requires constant tending, SMO is a little bit cactus, a little bit orchid. It’s a way to boost your post performance, without too much extra effort.

Here are 9 quick tips to improve your SMO today, little follow-up required.

Tip #1: Optimize your social accounts and profiles

We always like to start with the basics and it doesn’t get more basic (or more important) that optimizing your social media profiles. We’re talking simple changes, like being sure your name/company name, bio, profile pic, and cover photo are all complete and cohesive: one should complement the other and they should all tell the story of who you are and what your brand is all about. This not only helps you appear in search, but also entices social users to give you a follow.

Tip #2: Integrate social media into your website, blog & other collateral

social media optimization with follow buttons

Social media is not a field of dreams: build it, and they still might not come. To get serious traction with your social accounts, incorporate them into your online presence. By this, we mean that, where possible (and logical), publish follow buttons: streamlined, easy-to-use buttons that enable social follows in a single click. Integrate your Instagram photos into a blog sidebar. Add follow buttons to your email footer. The possibilities to tie your social media into everything you do online are endless.

Tip #3: Spend time with keywords

Keyword research exists for a reason: Sometimes, it’s not clear how people will search for your content. Keyword research shines a light on that, illuminating the myriad ways and keyword combinations that people might use. So, do your keyword research and then, incorporate it into your posts: Seamlessly add keywords into your posts, hashtags, and meta info.

Tip #4: Get hashtag happy (just not too happy)

Hashtags are an excellent use of keywords, but don’t overdo it. We’ve all seen the repeat offenders, who post three words of explanation followed by a million bajillion hashtags, including ridiculous ones like #blue or #shiny. Don’t be that person. Keep your hashtags targeted, helpful, and modest in number. (Check out our post on Twitter trending hashtags to learn more about how to use hashtags to your advantage.)

Tip #5: Optimize your posts for search

In the same keyword-and-hashtag vein, be sure that your posts are adequately optimized for real-people search: Beyond just using the right words (keywords) and meta info (including hashtags), be sure to include a strong post anchor– a core, look-at-me subject that makes your post worthy of a real person’s time and attention. 

Tip #6: Add photos or video

Add photos or video - Facebook example post by Headspace

Screenshot via Headspace on Facebook

Speaking of worthy post anchors, photo and video are one of the most popular (and most foolproof): People love good imagery. (For example, did you know that Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites, and 150% more retweets?) Point, illustrated. 

Luckily, adding engaging images is simple – there are at least 50 best free image creators designed for marketers – and fast; in a matter of minutes, you can churn out visually interesting photos that will catch social eyes.

Tip #7: Know. Your. Audience. 

We know, we know – we say this allllll the time. But, it’s true: You have to know your audience. Social media optimization is not all automated. It’s not something that your metrics, or a tool, or even a computer can do as well as a person because there’s a personal element involved. 

Because real people comprise your audience, stop and use your real-people brain: Study their demographics and behaviors, but also look to their interactions and demonstrated preferences: What posts have been popular with your audience in the past? Why were they popular? What gets the most shares? Does your audience love when you comment back? When you tag them? Be a real person and you’ll often find your audience will respond. 

Tip #8: Focus on timing

Your social posting schedule can be a tough nut to crack, in part because it varies by platform – the best time to post on Instagram is not necessarily the best time to post on Twitter – but also because it varies by profile.

In other words, the best time for our brand to post on Facebook, may be different from your brand’s best time to post on Facebook. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. That said, there are tools out there that will analyze your metrics on an individual social platform, to determine when is best for your brand to post on that platform. So, definitely do that.

Tip #9: Encourage interaction

social media optimization with reaction buttons

At the end of the day, social media is all about interaction. Yes, we’re marketers and we’re doing this as marketing, but really, social media is a conversation. It’s about person-to-person interactions. So, encourage conversation. 

Ask questions. Comment back. Add incentives. But, beyond all the standard, on-platform interactions, take your social off-platform and onto your site: Deploy share buttons to encourage people to post your content to their own social platforms. Publish reaction buttons, so readers can tell you how they really feel. Link to Instagram contests from your newsletter. In other words, extend your social interactions beyond the boundaries of your social platforms. And then, watch your followers grow. 

So, there you have it: 9 quick tips to boost your social media optimization. Which will you start on first? If you’re ready to start growing your audience right away, install the Facebook share button today – it’s easy to install (you can be up and running in just minutes!) and it makes it super-simple for your visitors to share your content, boosting your online exposure in seconds.