A Marketer's Guide to Social Media Content Optimization

Ellie Diamond
Published: Mar 14, 2024
Table of Contents
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Social media marketing never stays still. From emerging trends to shifting algorithms, the constant need to adapt can definitely keep you on your toes.

Optimization breaks the cycle. It takes you out of reactivity and into a proactive mindset, where you design campaigns based on high-level goals. 

In other words, social media content optimization is about making your strategy work harder. But before we look at how to do that, let's ask the key question: What does social media optimization mean?

What Is Social Media Optimization?

Social media optimization (SMO) is the process of analyzing and strengthening your social media presence. It starts with thoroughly analyzing your current strategy, including what content you post and how it performs.

SMO targets all of your key social media objectives. When executed well, it can:

  • Expand your reach
  • Engage more people
  • Gain followers faster
  • Attract more leads
  • Raise brand awareness

SMO's overall goal is a social media marketing funnel that converts. Your content must reach and engage audiences at all stages of the buyer's journey.

17 Social Media Content Optimization Tips To Improve Performance

To get the most from social media, you need to optimize your content. Social media content optimization transforms your posts, aligning them with your audiences' behavior. 

Here are 17 SMO tips to help you realize that goal.

1. Use Keywords To Optimize for Social Search Engines

If you're not optimizing your social media content like you'd optimize for Google, you might miss out on traffic. As social platforms become integral to people's lives, many have begun using them as default search engines.

According to a recent HubSpot study, nearly 1 in 3 consumers have used social platforms to find answers to their questions. Social media is a go-to search engine for 31% of Gen Z and 28% of millennials.

Where there's search, there's search engine optimization (SEO). Luckily, social media search engine optimization is much simpler than standard SEO since you don't need to worry about technical or offsite aspects.

With social media SEO, your main task is to use relevant keywords across your profile and in posts. Key locations include:

  • Your page's About section
  • Photo and video captions
  • Posts including key updates

When in doubt, add a keyword if you want content to appear in social search.

2. Define a Social Media Content Strategy

Before creating social media content, you need an SMO strategy to guide your efforts. Craft that strategy by answering three questions:

  • What are your goals?
  • Who are your potential customers?
  • How can you capture their attention?

Start by creating a user persona for your ideal social media follower. Study the profiles of your current followers and visitors to identify their demographic details, needs, and interests.

Also, notice which social posts and campaigns get the most engagement. Every audience is different — some pay more attention to what a brand says about social issues; others are mostly there for deals and promotions. 

3. Post When Your Target Audience Is Online

In 2023, Sprout Social analyzed its data to identify the best times for social posting. The team found that the best times to post across platforms are between 10 a.m. and noon on Monday and between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. on other weekdays. 

Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best days to post. Sundays are the toughest. On LinkedIn, weekends are a difficult sell in general.

These are helpful general guidelines, but every brand's audience is different. It's always wise to conduct your own analytics. 

4. Leverage Social Listening To Identify Topics of Interest

Social listening means analyzing conversations and mentions related to your brand or industry. By aggregating data on what topics get the most shares, comments, and mentions — positive and negative — you learn what your brand can add to the conversation.

For example, suppose you're working on social media content optimization for your independent bakery. You use social listening to learn that "fresh baked goods" is a popular keyword in your market and that your audience loves your recipes. That insight lets you design a successful campaign about how you choose ingredients.

5. Be Among the First To Use New Social Media Features

Social media platforms invest significant time and money into building and releasing new features. When these new features come out, they attract considerable traffic, meaning trailblazing early adopters get more attention.

For example, Instagram is testing new interactive gaming features to make live streams more engaging. Imagine being the first brand in your industry to host a trivia game with valuable freebies as prizes. 

Make staying up to date with social media tech news a part of your SMO strategy. It's the best way to put yourself in a position to offer something no one else knows about.

6. Encourage Shares and Interactions on Your Posts

The ultimate goal of social media content optimization is to drive engagement. The best way to get there is by encouraging interaction across your social networks.

Inviting audiences to "like, comment, and share" is an excellent first step. You can include this type of encouragement in your YouTube video descriptions and the captions of re-shared articles, photos, and videos. Sharing content is an easy and efficient way to generate discussion on your page.

However, to optimize your content fully, you need to go deeper and speak to your target audience's needs. For example:

  • Ask "discussion questions" to encourage community conversations. These questions can be as simple as "Which of our flavors do you like best?".
  • Engage around cultural moments and special occasions that are relevant to your audiences and make sense for your brand.
  • Incorporate interactive content, such as quizzes and polls. Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn all have easy-to-use poll features.

Pay attention to what type of encouragement gets the most interaction so you can do more of it later.

7. Experiment With Different Post Formats

All social media platforms have popular content formats, but those trends can vary by brand. Before you assume that your videos should go on TikTok and your pictures on Instagram, look at the data. Answer these questions:

Recent data shows that videos get the most engagement on LinkedIn, Facebook, and X (formerly Twitter). Image carousels are by far the favorite on Instagram. And if all you have is a link, Facebook is the best place to share it.

For brand-specific insights, you need to collect campaign data and track key performance indicators. If you get more click-throughs from articles than videos on LinkedIn, keep them coming.

8. Post Frequently and Be Consistent

Social media algorithms reward accounts that post consistently and frequently. Frequent posters also have a better chance of staying top-of-mind with potential customers, allowing for better brand awareness and recall. 

That said, not every brand can post daily — or even every few days. That's okay. It's not about reaching a miraculous posting frequency. It's about finding a posting schedule that works realistically for your brand.

9. Master the Art of Hashtags

Hashtags allow more people to find your posts. Social media users often search or click on a hashtag to learn more about a particular subject. When they notice you in the results, they immediately see your relevance.

The best approach is a mix of general and niche hashtags. General hashtags cast a wider net, attracting many people with diverse interests. Niche hashtags zero in on a particular topic or community. Niche hashtags may generate warmer leads, but fewer of them. By using both, you get the best of both worlds.

10. Include Compelling CTAs To Improve Conversion

Your social media call-to-action (CTA) has to pack a punch. It needs to tell the reader precisely what to do and why.

You might invite the reader to subscribe to your newsletter, request a discount code, or even buy a product. For these more significant asks, offer clear value and encourage action with urgent, active language. Use concise sentences like:

  • Get our free guide.
  • Start your free trial.
  • Shop the sale!

Remember to include action words in your "simpler" CTAs as well. "Tell us what you think" is stronger and more memorable than "Comment below."

11. Include UTMs in Your Links

Part of optimization is learning which campaigns and posts get the best results. Adding an Urchin Tracking Model (UTM) to your links is the easiest method. A UTM is a code snippet that tracks the source of website traffic. Adding a UTM to your social media links lets you determine how many people came to your site from a particular post. 

12. Make Your Content Accessible

Inclusive campaign design is essential in the modern internet age. It allows users of varying abilities to engage with your post, improving the user experience for everyone. Examples of accessibility content include:

  • Video captions and subtitles: Translate audio into text in real-time at the bottom of the screen.
  • Descriptive transcripts: Convert video content into written text so people can access it later.
  • Subtitles: Translate your audio into other languages.
  • Alt tags: Describe images for visually impaired viewers. 

Including these elements can also improve SEO for social media since algorithms scan them along with your regular content. Add relevant keywords to each accessibility aide to reach even more people.

13. Collaborate With Other Accounts To Improve Reach

Because of how social media algorithms work, your followers are more likely than non-followers to see your content. That's why collaborations are so powerful — two audiences, one project.

Consider collaborating on a campaign with a related, non-competing brand or a local partner. Another option is to call for user-generated content, such as a video of audience members using your product. 

Then, of course, there's influencer marketing. Every niche has its influencers, and not all of them are expensive. Consider researching micro-influencers in your industry for collaboration ideas.

14. Include Your Location To Reach the Right Audience

Social media algorithms often consider location to determine relevant content. Adding your location to your social media profiles is a simple way to reach people in your area — a particularly pertinent step if you run a location-based business, such as a gym or housecleaning service.

15. Stop the Scroll in the First Three Seconds

SMO marketing moves fast. It takes less than three seconds for a reader to scroll through a screen's content, and you must inspire them to stop.

There's no time to lead up to your message or offer background. Instead, open with your biggest attention-getter — perhaps a colorful slide announcing your new product or a video intro that makes the viewer need to know more.

16. Leverage the Power of Video Marketing

There are countless marketing content ideas for social media, but video is hard to beat. In HubSpot's 2023 Social Media Trends Report, 34% of marketers said short-form videos had the highest return on investment of any social media content type.

The runner-up? Long-form videos at 11%.

Video is compelling because it's engaging, relatable, and versatile. You can create large volumes of high-quality content without running out of video ideas. Here are just a few to get you started:

  • How-to videos that teach a skill
  • Product tutorials or demos
  • User-generated unboxing videos
  • New product or service announcement
  • Behind-the-scenes videos like facility tours and staff interviews

17. Get Familiar With Your Social Media Metrics

Social media analytics are essential to any optimization campaign. The only way to tell if you've truly optimized your content is to analyze the data and get to the bottom line: Are you engaging more users?

Engagement rates are easy to track on social media. All major platforms, from LinkedIn to TikTok, have analytics dashboards that even the most casual user can understand. You can track likes, comments, clicks, shares, and click-through rates.

What Tools Can Help You Streamline the SMO Process?

Without today's social media tools, strategizing and managing multiple platforms would be prohibitively time-consuming. Fortunately, today's social media marketers have access to robust solutions, such as:

  • Buffer: Multi-platform publishing
  • Hootsuite: Comprehensive campaign and account management
  • Sprout Social: Integrated social media management with advanced analytics
  • BuzzSumo: Content development and engagement analysis, including competitor research and campaign ideas

You'll also find social media optimization tools with specific purposes, like finding an influencer in your industry or curating third-party content. Take time to locate the best solution set for your business.

Reach Your Profile's Full Potential by Optimizing Your Content

Social media content optimization is an essential investment in your public image. Both your re-shared and original content tell audiences who you are and what you value as a brand. 

Take the process one step at a time, starting with your profile. Save the above steps or bookmark this page as a guide to stay on track. 

Meanwhile, keep adding high-quality content regularly. Stay consistent and remain up to date, and you're bound to make a great impression.


Learn how to work with AI tools, not against them. 

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✅ The benefits and limitations of generative AI
✅ When to use AI tools and when you still need human assistance
✅ Tips for writing effective ChatGPT prompts
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