I was asked recently about SEO and its importance for my home-based business. SEO? Is Search Engine Optimization important for my business? To be honest I’m not really sure. I think SMO is more valuable.
What is SMO? It’s Social Media Optimization. And for my home-based business I’m much more interested in the ROI on my social media efforts. [ROI? That’s Return On Investment.]
Investment isn’t always in terms of dollars and cents. It’s also in terms of time. For many home-business owners and other solo-preneurs time is a precious commodity. When you are all your business has, you have to be very selective with where and how you spend your time. Truthfully I’m not so concerned with SEO as I am with SMO because I invest more time in social media connections than I do with where I rank in a search engine.
And social media gives me positive ROI. How do I know this? I utilize Google Analytics. Recently I was looking at the graphs and charts for this blog and discovering where readers are coming from. In my business’s marketing plan, I use a 5-part internet strategy for exposure:
The charts and graphs on my Google Analytics page tell me that time spent using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn does indeed drive traffic to my blog. In fact, for me, my ROI for Twitter is time well spent…for me, Twitter ranks #1 in referring sites. For the past month, the top 5 in referring sites has been:
- my former blog url address
- my Alltop
For the home-based business solo-preneur how can you use Twitter and Facebook? In my book, “Beginners Guide for Home-Based Business Owners-Establishing an Initial Presence on the Internet,” I talk about Twitter’s value:
- make announcements relevant to your business: Product/Service launches, Product/Service changes, location changes, special events, special deals, staff changes
- post the title of your newest blog posts; post when you make changes to your business web page
- Twitter can help you to gain exposure for your business, market your business’s products and services, build relationships with customers, share, teach and connect
Facebook and LinkedIn, as I mention in my book, also have great fundamental value:
- viewers can see that you are a businessperson and have a business
- get a description of your business and see your qualifications
- get the web address for your business [could be your business website or business blog]
- get business contact information
- see the latest status update [link your Twitter account to both]
I found a great article at Social Media Today by Ira Kaufman, “5 Steps to Evaluating Social Media ROI.” I like what Mr. Kaufman has to say about social media being more than numbers of followers…to me numbers of followers is not your return on investment; rather it is, as Kaufman says, “…The answer [to ‘prove to me social media works’] will not come simply from growing social media followers. Rather, it will come from the effect social media has on expanding and converting your company’s touchpoints. The marketing strategy of every company is to touch their customers, engage them, and move them to a targeted action….”
Kaufman talks about a “…Touchpoint Optimization Strategy…a 5-step process that tracks the conversion from a one way touchpoint to an “action point” in the customer relationship lifecycle….” His 5 steps:
- Listening: “…Sales and consumer insights measures include surveys, ad test, awareness tracking, contact centers, media tests, customer satisfaction studies, and brand tracking….” – all traditional marketing methods, which, truth be told, are always going to be necessary in my estimation.
- Conversing: “…With the emergence of social media, the measurement response time has been shortened. Social media transforms listening posts into ‘conversation points.’… They challenge companies to be more involved and responsive, as they provide real time information needed to make adjustments in strategies and tactics. Furthermore, each conversation point can be developed into a relationship and build brand loyalty….” Here’s where I concur – social media provides an element that traditional marketing methods simply can’t. There is, however, an exception which I’ll get to in a moment.
- Converting: “…the company needs to focus marketing efforts to convert the user to specific calls to action: downloading information, answering a survey, requesting a quote, or buying a product. Effective Social Media Marketing targets these conversation points to be transformed into ‘action points.’…” So true. I think it means that you drive the conversation towards action, which can happen quickly in social media.
- Analyzing: this hasn’t changed; whether you SMO or stick to traditional marketing, analysis is vital.
- Evaluation: “…evaluation will determine a social media ROI and the most cost-effective mix of traditional, online, PR and social media to achieve the company’s goals….” Social media adds to the evaluation mix…this is where you ask: is time spent on Twitter and/or Facebook worth it?
There is an old-fashioned, old-timey method of social conversing that we used to do and I found an interesting article at MyVenturePad by Becky McCray – she shared an article written by her friend Liz Strauss, “Why Small Town Small Biz Has an Advantage at Using Social Media Tools.” In the article, “…My dad owned a saloon…what my dad did with his cash register I do with my computer.…” She talks about the social in social media that used to be done face-to-face:
- “…a website is a store…keep it organized, clean, and focused on our key business…
- …a blog is conversation over the counter. If we put out information that answers questions and solves problems, the people who shop in our store get interested in us and what we know…
- …LinkedIn is a professional group, like the Chamber of Commerce It’s our chance to connect with people who run small businesses like ours…
- …Facebook is the company picnic. Our families and friends are there with us. Business is more casual and more about sharing events and news…”
- …Twitter is the world’s largest networking event.…”
I couldn’t agree more. I had a time in my life when I worked as an assistant department manager for a major department store – it was a nice rather upscale type of place and those were good times – although hard on my feet I’ll admit. Those were times of face-to-face marketing. You handled the products, talked to prospective customers who became buying customers and hopefully returning customers. The corporate office handled all the traditional outside marketing, but social marketing happened right there on the sales floor. Social media is a bit like the sales floor. Social media brings back into the mix the conversation which, like Mr. Kaufman points out in his article, hopefully converts to action [sales].
So. The ROI of SMO? A worthy investment. My emphasis – for my small home-based business – is on SMO much more than SEO.