Social media optimization (SMO) is the process of increasing awareness of a product, brand, or event on social media. SMO involves analyzing the content that will resonate most with an account’s followers, including graphics, text, hashtags, and links.

How to optimize social media content

To determine what type of content is best suited for their audience, social media managers usually begin by identifying what their followers are looking for and where they are looking for it. This often includes examining which social media platforms offer the greatest opportunities for engaging with their ideal customers. Social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, YouTube, and Pinterest each cater to a distinct demographic of users, so part of social media optimization is tailoring the content accordingly.

Especially on hashtag-driven networks like Instagram and Twitter, social media optimization also involves identifying hashtags that will increase the likelihood of a user seeing a specific piece of content. For example, a car repair shop would research trending hashtags that are relevant to the automotive service industry and use them strategically to get their content in front of their targeted audience.

Most networks have specifications for the type of content that can be shared. They indicate what aspect ratio(s) images/videos should have, as well as character limits for text and how many hashtags, images, and links can be included in one post. All of these specifications are important considerations when developing a social media optimization strategy. Social media management tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, and Later are helpful for organizing and planning content according to each network’s requirements.

Social media optimization vs. social media marketing

Unlike social media marketing (SMM), which is primarily concerned with paid advertising on social networks, social media optimization is focused on organic (non-paid) content. However, the two concepts are closely intertwined because they both impact a social media account’s overall performance as well as the business’s bottom line. If a social media account (and the content it shares) is optimized, any social media marketing campaigns are more likely to be successful. Sometimes, a social media account’s performance can be improved by implementing a SMM campaign, thereby making the process of SMO a bit easier.


Social media optimization and search engine optimization (SEO) are also closely related. Search engine optimization involves keyword planning and adjusting site content to maximize the chances of the site ranking among the search results for those terms. This largely depends on each search engine’s algorithm. These algorithms often consider how a website’s links perform on social media when determining the overall search performance, so a website’s SMO strategy is an important tool for SEO as well.


Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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