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Social Media Optimization (SMO) is a phrase that was coined by search pioneer Rohit Bhargava in 2006. Since then the term has grown and expanded and millions of people are now practicing this science (art?) every day. Many practitioners, I presume, may not even know where the term came from.

Rohit originally introduced 5 rules of social media optimization. Then someone added a 6th and 7th. Someone else came along and added rules 8 through 11. Another pioneer amended the list to include rules 12 and 13. Then there were rules 14, 15 and 16. Rohit rounded it out to include the 17th rule. And, of course, there have been many translations into languages other than English.

The purpose of this blog post is two-fold:

  1. To recognize the SMO pioneers who introduced and expanded this ever-evolving area of Internet marketing;
  2. To list all 17 rules in one place for easy reference.

With that in mind, here is the list of 17 rules of social media optimization and recognition of the person who introduced each rule to the growing conversation.

17 Rules Of Social Media Optimization

  1. Increase Your Linkability – In a sense, SMO is SEO. If you do it right then your content will be more linkable. Any inbound links you gain will increase your SEO advantage. (Rohit Bhargava)
  2. Make Tagging And Bookmarking Easy – This rule is so commonplace that many people do it without knowing they’re practicing SMO. (Rohit Bhargava)
  3. Reward Inbound Links - People who link to you are helping you out. It’s only right that you should reward them for their kindness. (Rohit Bhargava)
  4. Help Your Content Travel – Put it out there and watch it fly. (Rohit Bhargava)
  5. Encourage The Mashup – This one has been a bit controversial as there are still companies online who are stuck in the traditional mode of thinking about content ownership and copyright infringement. While those are legitimate concerns, a reasonable letting go of your content to allow it to evolve into something more powerful and with SEO and SMO benefits attached is a good thing. Don’t fight it. (Rohit Bhargava)
  6. Be A User Resource Even If It Doesn’t Help You – Providing unselfish value has a way of coming back to reward you. It’s the old “what goes around, comes around rule”. Or call it karma, if you wish. Either way, become a resource for others without regard to how it benefits you and you’ll see the benefits come back manifold. (Jeremiah Owyang)
  7. Reward Helpful And Valuable Users – If your site visitors take the time to interact with you and leave valuable comments and boost the community then show your appreciation by giving rewards. A simple “thank you” is often enough. (Jeremiah Owyang)
  8. Participate – Social media is not just about producing your own content. Interact with other people’s content as well. Be a contributor across multiple websites. (Cameron Olthuis)
  9. Know How To Target Your Audience – Instead of just throwing paint on the wall and seeing what sticks, interact with your audience in their hangouts. Otherwise, you’re wasting your own time. (Cameron Olthuis)
  10. Create Content - It may seem like a no-brainer, but if you don’t create then you can’t optimize. Social media is as much about creating content as it is about distributing it and it is just as much about creating content as SEO is. (Cameron Olthuis)
  11. Be Real – You can put on an act for only so long and when you are discovered your reputation is shot. Be genuine, be real. (Cameron Olthuis)
  12. Be Humble – Be respectful of others and don’t get a bighead. No one likes a self-congratulatory know it all. (Loren Baker)
  13. Try New Things – Just because there are rules doesn’t mean they should always be followed with no innovation. The rules are always changing anyway so embrace the change and try something new. (Loren Baker)
  14. Develop A Strategy – Don’t just wing it. Have a plan and stick to it. (Lee Odden)
  15. Choose Your SMO Tactics Wisely – Just because someone else is doing it doesn’t mean you should too. Not every tactic will work for every business. Analyze your strategy and choose the tactics that show the most promise for reaching your target audience. (Lee Odden)
  16. Make SMO A Part Of Your Every Day Process – Add it to your list of things to do each day. Make it a part of your best practices. (Lee Odden)
  17. Don’t Be Afraid To Let Go Of The Message – Back to Rohit Bhargava. If you have a great idea, let others own it. Let it go and develop on its own, just like Rohit Bhargava did with Social Media Optimization.

I hope these 17 rules of social media optimization are helpful to you. Social media is about three things really: 1) Creating Content, 2) Sharing Content, and 3) Distributing Content. It’s all about the content and what you can do with it.

2 Responses to “17 Rules Of Social Media Optimization”

  1. Thanks for the post. Good list of priorities.

  2. Thanks for the post. Good list of priorities.

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