You have a great product. People love your content, your products or your services. You have even stepped up your game and created a blog, a Facebook page and an active Twitter account. Yet, the results are unspectacular. Enter social-graph optimization.
Yet another Social Media Week panel, fittingly titled “Social Graph Optimization” featured insights from Seth Sternberg, CEO of Meebo, Mark Ghuneim, CEO and founder of Wiredset and Trendrr, Hashem Bajwa of Droga 5, and Anna O’Brien of Citibank to help attendees grasp the idea.
While Social Graph Optimization might be a foreign concept to many marketers, the good news is that it is based on common sense. If search engine optimization is about getting visibility via search, social graph optimization is about getting your messages out there via social media. Whether that is achieved via your audience’s networks or yours, it’s all about increasing your reach. In some ways, this concept is what social media should be in its purest form: optimized word of mouth.
These activities seem logical, but they are something we take for granted and often lose sight of. SmartBrief on Social Media Editor at Large and WOM guru Andy Sernovitz reminds us to “Just ask” often, and every time I hear it I think of more applications.
Mark Ghuneim of Trendrr sees Social Graph Optimization as significant because with social media, we can now see what people are doing, what they are watching and where they are going. Now, he argues, we can target those spaces rather than just targeting the people. This represents a critical shift in thinking for many marketers currently “engaging” in social media. Optimizing social media is not about finding new ways to DM people on Twitter, it’s about leveraging your audience to help them spread your message for you. To build on these opportunities, we can use data. Anna O’Brien of Citibank underscored the importance of analytics in optimization. Once we’re looking at data indicating what’s being shared and what users are reacting to, she pointed out, we can use this data to shape our products. What does your customer want more of? Create more of that and feed the hunger.
Seth Sternberg of Meebo mentioned that two years ago, Google was probably the most significant traffic driver for branded sites. While the big 10 blue links are probably still a big piece of that share, social channels are now a major player. He believes that providing current customers with smart and integrated sharing technologies is key to successful social media optimization. “After all,” he pointed out, “My pictures didn’t get any better when I bought an iPhone, but I certainly share them a lot more now.”
Now let’s get tactical and figure out what businesses can do today to optimize their social graph. Here are three tools to help you get started.
1. Retweet buttons. Many sites now use TweetMeme buttons effectively, and Guy Kawasaki has showed the impact they can have. They serve as a subtle, yet useful, reminder for your audience to share via Twitter.
2. Widgets and plugin and apps, oh my! Does your blog feature a Twitter feed? Not just of what you’re saying, but what others are saying (see: sharing) about you in real-time? Check out Collecta. Does your Facebook fan page reference your blog or your Twitter updates? There are plenty of apps for that. While it’s important that each of these channels remains distinct, taking advantages of the qualities of each space, we have to remember to use them to feed one another. Your blog should be able to stand alone — but your readers should know that they can follow you on Twitter and fan you on Facebook for further engagement.
3. Web site/blog toolbar. I’m not going to shamelessly plug Meebo because they sponsored the event, took care of lunch or because CEO Seth Sternberg had some great things to say. However, the Meebo toolbar (and Wibiya, used on this blog) is a very tactical and smart way to get started integrating your social graph. The first step in social graph optimization is making it easy for your customers and readers to share your content, offers or information. These bars are a constant reminder to your audience, and according to Sternberg, if 1% of your daily unique visitors share your content, you’re doing pretty well.
If you have great content, don’t let it languish. The first step is integrating your business’ social profiles — but the real jump will happen when you give your audience the tools they need to make it easy to share with their networks.
Image credit, mipan, via iStock