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SMO vs. Engagement: Why They’re Different and How You Can Rock Both

When it comes to social media, there are two factors that drive success: Social Media Optimization (SMO) and engagement. Often time’s these two are confused with one another. Though they’re related, they actually address completely different fields within the social media sphere.

So what is SMO, what is engagement and how are they different?

What is Social Media Optimization?

Social media optimization is the more quantitative side of the social media equation. It’s what allows marketers to tackle social media in a systematic and scientific manner.

Let’s say you’re trying to get a certain fan page to go viral. One way you can measure this in SMO terms is through what percentage of people repost your posts.

So if you post something on your wall and it’s “shared” by 1.5% of your fans, that gives you a benchmark metric to measure against. If you track this number whenever you post status updates, you can very quickly start to get a sense for what kinds of things get passed along and what kinds of things don’t.

This is just one example of SMO in action. SMO can track visitors to a page, the number of shares, number of likes, peak traffic times, best days to post and a whole slew of other statistics that you can use to optimize your campaign.

In other words, SMO is the systematic and scientific approach to getting more people to like your page, more shares and overall a more powerful brand effect.

What is Engagement?

Engagement on the other hand is a completely different ballgame. Engagement is the qualitative side of the social media equation.

It’s how engaged your fans are with your work. It’s how emotionally vested they are in your brand. It’s how excited they get about your product when they tell their friends about it. It’s how much they think you care about them.

Fostering engagement doesn’t come from statistics and calculations. Instead, it comes from regularly connecting with your audience in an engaging dialogue.

If you want to foster more engagement, make it a regular goal of yours to foster more activity from your users.

Ask them questions. Get them talking to you and to one another. Host contests that get them involved. Create games for your users. Ask for their feedback.

Pull them into your brand experience. Your users should feel like they’re part of your community.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

It’s important to realize that if you want to succeed on social media, you need to use both optimization and engagement.

If you only have optimization, you’ll have a very technically well run campaign, but it just won’t have that “buzz.” That “buzz” is what causes social media campaigns to take off like wildfire. It’s what gets people to stick around. It’s what people remember.

On the other hand, if you only have engagement, you’re probably not getting as many people to your pages as you could. If you’re not posting your updates at optimal times, if you’re not tracking what kinds of content your visitors like, if you’re not using systematic testing to determine what really works, you’re probably going to have a hard time succeeding in the long run.

In order for you to have a vibrant social media campaign that engages a lot of people, you need to have both optimization and engagement.

Start out in the area where you’re weakest. If you already have an engaged community but haven’t been tracking your metrics, work on your metrics first. On the other hand, if you already have a scientifically well optimized campaign but your user base lacks passion, start out by increasing engagement.

 

That’s the long and short of what SMO is and what engagement is. In the long run, you want to master both to get your campaigns to really take off. Your campaigns must make scientific sense, but they also need to capture the heart of your fans.

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December 1st, 2011 by zeeshan

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