Like it or not, sites like Digg, Facebook, Flickr! and the such will be around for awhile. As the wise man at the hot dog stand would say: “Get ’em while they’re hot!” Statistics show increasing numbers in social media, which means larger audiences, better resources, and no signs of these highly active sites dwindling. Of course, all this information is useless if you lack the networking skills.
One might argue that social media sites have a characteristic to not last over a period of time. This is true, however, as the short history of SM has shown us, when one site falls another will rise, and with greater numbers. One of the greatest examples of this is Friendster > Myspace > Facebook. I should probably clarify that all three of these sites are still around and functional for members to use, however, looking at the history, one can see a wave which once peaked at Friendster, then Myspace, and is now peaking with Facebook.
One might also argue that social media sites are only beneficial for personal use, not for businesses. Most SM sites do generally target personal users, but there is really only one quality needed for social media optimization – networking. Businesses are made up of people, and people network all the time. Someone from your business can take it upon themself to share their knowledge with a given community, and as a result, spread the word. Forget what anyone has to say directory listings – quality link building is the foundation for SEO, and networking on an SM site can accomplish this naturally. I should point out, however, that many sites frown upon the use of their sites as link-building tools, so ethically speaking, you should only utilize these sites if you plan on interacting with the community as any other user would, and linking only to pages on your site that are relavant to topics of discussion.
Some would say that it would be a hassle to maintain multiple social media profiles just to build a few links. Why spend all those hours making and optimizing profiles when you can buy links? The key is targeted traffic. Buying links is not only unethical, but there is no guarantee as to the quality of these links. It may seem like a good deal to get a bunch of links at a low price, but it’s just a waste of money. A few links from a few good blogs will do far more for your natural search than an infinite number of random links from irrelavant sites containing nothing but links. And part of having blogs post about your site is networking with them.
One aspect of social media that one would never argue is the fact that it’s free. Sure, certain sites will offer a “premium membership” for a small monthly or yearly fee, but this will rarely, if ever, be any more useful for SMO than the basic free membership. This makes SMO a powerful tool not only because millions upon millions of people will be using it based soley on the fact that it is free, but because it costs you nothing more than the time you put into it, or if you don’t have the time to put into it, the fees you would pay your Internet marketing firm to utilize it.