I blogged about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and talked about how it was one of the most important tools for building brands online. Now we are going to talk about Social Media Optimization (SMO), which works hand in hand with SEO to build your brand on the traditional and social web. These are two of the most important components of your online marketing plan, and when used together can be a peerless combo. According to a recent Nielsen study, social media sites account for 18% of where searches begin, sometimes showing up higher than the core websites where the information originated.

What does this mean to SMO experts? It simply means that it can be a very useful way to build your brand so it will be found on the first page of search engines. SMO is composed of two components. The first is social media tools pushing content, including, but not limited to, RSS feeds, news, sharing buttons, images, videos and social media. The second is promotional activities like blogging, commenting on other blogs, participating in discussion groups, status updates, etc. Listed below are the social media websites that I feel are the core influential social media websites that every brand should use for promotion:

  • A Blog can be used to establish your brand identity, but also use it as an opportunity to show your readers other sides of you by pointing out other social network outposts and other subjects of interest. They are a way to get to know the people around us as they converse about what we have to say. Of course, blogs also drive traffic to your website, especially when optimized for the long run.
  • Facebook. After recently surpassing Google as the most popular site in America and closing in on 500,000,000 monthly unique visitors, Facebook has huge amounts of traffic that can be ethically leveraged to grow brands online.
  • Twitter founders recently revealed that their site has over 110,000,000 accounts and the site is growing by hundreds of thousands of users per day. Twitter is a great way to bring a personality and voice from your brand out in the open.
  • LinkedIn is considered by most to be the most professional network. It is a great way to get your brand name officially recognized through group, personal or company profiles.

There are many secondary social media sites you can use to boost your SMO, that include, but are not limited to: YouTube, Flicker, Plancast, Yammer, Digg, Delicious, FriendFeed, mobile marketing, RSS feeds, podcasts and webcasts. The list goes on and on, with new start-ups sprouting up every day. Each has a different use that can be used to add content or promote your brand. GO will help you to carefully analyze all the social media tools available and plan how you will incorporate new media into your social media marketing plan.

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