Another dirty word for Social

SMO (Social media optimisation)

For me SMO is a dirty word, it seemingly replaces doing the hard work in developing a great Content strategy. Most advice around SMO is as follows:

  • Identify and target your audience
  • Look at content distribution methods
  • Optimise content for SEO (which should be happening anyway)
  • Optimise linking (inbound, outbound)
  • Create content that will travel (via social methods)
  • Look at life-cycle of web objects and keep that in mind when publishing
  • Determine editorial guidelines for types of content and apply
What SMO theorists suggest is that you should start looking at each piece of web collateral as a “social object” that can be (and most likely will be) distributed, rehashed, linked to etc. The thing is, that should already be happening whenever you are developing content online, or offline for that matter.


It can all end up in the same place; out “There”.

If you are already doing the right thing in regards to SEO, understand the differences between social networking and marketing, and have a strong Content Strategy then SMO is almost a moot point. It’s fuzzy stuff. Flowery agency language for activities that should occur as par for the course when developing online content.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say, we shouldn’t be thinking “Optimisation” rather “Integration”, so that content (regardless of shape, format, size, platform, channel)  is all considered as potentially social and is developed with this in mind.


It goes back to editorial prowess. Each sentence should earn it’s keep. Each word should have a value. Each item should have clear meaning and benefit to the end user, otherwise, kill it.

I’m going to put myself out on a limb and say that I think “SMO” is the new buzzword being bandied around so Agencies can add a few extra naughts to their fees. I’ve had some animated discussions with content strategists who, like I, are revisiting the golden days of the .com boom, when anything that had an “e-” at the front of it would also be associated with big bucks.


Maybe this is contentious, but as an evangelist of the goods that social can bring I feel it’s my duty to poke the ribs of the SMO beast and see what comes crawling back.





Published by Claire Spencer

Senior social media specialist combining mindfulness with content to build a better world.

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