In an article from Pi Business Research, the writers mention that search engines are no longer the primary method of getting traffic to your site. Social bookmarking tools, blogs, and social networks are rapidly becoming more popular. For example, a story on a social website like Facebook or YouTube can bring more website traffic to your site than a simple Google search. Twitter has become the means of online communication among peers, with mobile phones becoming the internet tools of choice. Hence, welcome to the birth of Social Media Optimization (SMO).

Social Media Optimization (SMO) is just that – it’s SOCIAL. The only way for SMO to work is if it’s popular, and the way for popularity to spread is generally through word-of-mouth. If others won’t find an article that “relates” with them or their industry, or if that article simply contains information that other articles have, then the Social Media aspect isn’t optimized.

Think about it this way. At school, there usually are different classes of kids. One class comprises of the “socialites,” the happy-go-lucky ones. Everyone knows who they are because they’re popular. Then there are the “middle class” that aren’t the most popular, but aren’t terribly non-social either. You then have the class of kids who don’t fit in socially, either because they’re too dorky in character, too self-conscious, or they just don’t like interacting with others.

Now, think of your web page or video as the newest kid in a classroom with many others like it. Like a kid with two ears, two eyes, a nose, mouth, and hair, nothing distinguishes it from the one next to it. Being that “it’s already been done before,” the first kid perceived with two eyes, a nose and a mouth will be focused on. Once there are many kids with the same features, the next in line will be who’s the most attractive, who’s the strongest, smartest, fastest, etc. kid. The ones that have that distinction become popular quickly. The “middle class” of kids is average, and will only become so popular. The anti-social class will be distinguished by traits that aren’t the most honorable, and they will receive attention, albeit negative or none whatsoever.

Similarly, that’s how websites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube became popular. Each one was unique for something. MySpace was one of the the first websites to allow one to post ones profile and to graphically customize it. Facebook was able to take that a step further and allow for features like instant messaging, shared applications like games and surveys, and posting/sharing pictures, videos, and posts among specific friends securely. It also allows one to update ones status for ones friends to see. While MySpace has recently incorporated some of those features, it’s goal has been more to be of a user’s “space” (hence “My Space”) while Facebook has focused on letting friends know about status updates. Twitter took the “constant update” idea and made that the primary focus for its application, in 140 characters or less per message. YouTube has been unique in that it was among the first to allow for a “regular schmoe” to share ones videos and automatically become “famous,” with video commenting and quick flash video technology being present.

Now, if one looks carefully enough, there are numerous social media clones out there aiming to be the “next Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, all in one.” The problem is, because it’s “already been done before,” nobody wants to learn how to use another YouTube or Facebook clone when they can use the original. Alternatively, if ones website offers something that nobody wants, or if the website’s presentation is outdated, then people will make a point of either showing the site off to friends to make fun of, or they will be so disgusted as to never go on ones website again.

The same applies with what ones company offers in a specific industry. If the services offered are comparable to another company in the same industry, and if that competitor has either a better reputation or is a little cheaper, then the client will invariably use that company’s services over yours. This especially applies when the goods/services offered either are shoddy or grossly overpriced.

In order for Social Media Optimization to work for a business is, your business must offer something that no one else does. What makes your company positively different from the competition? Once that has been established, then it’s a matter of maximizing exposure through friends via sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Once your site has gained a certain amount of exposure, people will use your company, and even perhaps refer it to their own friends, creating a ripple effect in terms of how many clients your business may gain through Social Media Optimization.