With the heavy convergence of video in both search results and social media, do we now need to distinguish business strategies for optimizing video for search engines versus social media channels? Is social video optimizing just about placing videos for YouTube and social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn; or is it much more?
With terms such as "social media marketing" and "video SEO" now well-established in the online marketing lexicon, I thought it would be deserving to lend a new definition to a subset of social media marketing with video – "social video optimization." I've covered social video marketing for ReelSEO rather extensively already; and I'm intrigued to closely follow many new and developing opportunities from it. That's why I think it's helpful for any business that is doing social video, to understand the distinction between the optimization of video for search engine performance versus social media channels; also, between computers and real people.
To best do that, we need to tackle the foundation of what exactly we mean by "optimization," and how that applies to video in the media channels we flock to and generate business from. Here are my definitions, which I put together from a combination of existing web content and my own analysis and experience of being in the search, social media, and video space.
What is Optimization?
By "optimization," I go by this definition:
The design and operation of a system or process to make it as good as possible in some defined sense.
- Optimization – improving performance;
- Optimize – to make as perfect, effective, or functional as possible
5 Things "Optimization" needs (for doing business online):
- A purpose – understanding of what something is being optimized for.
- A process – a system or steps that need to be followed for that optimization to happen.
- A metric – how we choose to measure our optimization efforts.
- An audience – the recipient(s) of the optimization efforts.
- A value – a measure of importance and benefit to more than one party.
What is Video Optimization?
"Video optimization" can mean one or several things in regards to online channels:
- Technical quality – where the physically measure attributes of a video can meet professionally acceptable standards, general audience standards, or target audience standards.
- Creative – the originality and expressiveness of a video.
- Value – the worth in usefulness or importance of a video to the possessor.
- Placement – the positioning or arrangement of a video is a desired space by the video's owner.
- Distribution – the delivery and receipt of a video to the desired websites and unique visitors, measured in both quantity and quality.
- Analytics – the logical assessment of a video (i.e, "analysis”) for intended performance results, (i.e, "conversions.”)
What is Video Search Engine Optimization?
Video SEO, or "vSEO," is about optimizing your video content for attracting unique visitors from web-based search engines' organic results and video search results to your website.
Any success metric for vSEO must have 3 things in its foundation:
- An Algorithm – an effective method of well-defined instructions for optimizing your video for a search engine.
- Indexability – Having your videos, and the links to your website, web pages, and blog posts where those videos are embedded, be indexed by the search engines (both video search engines and universal search engines).
- Visibility – An improvement in the ranking or visibility of video in search engine listings related to your optimization efforts.
The types of search engines that apply for vSEO are those that display either one of the following:
- Universal search results – Also known as one-box results, universal search pulls data from multiple databases to display on the same page. Results can include images, videos, and results from specialty databases like maps and local information, product information, or news stories.
- Video search engines – Web-based search engines that allow users to search specifically for video content.
My earliest recollection of Video SEO was a 2006 search marketing conference agenda – one year after my own coverage of Web video began with video search engines. That was was when search engine marketing and SEO was high on the business radar; and many of today's social media channels were in their infancy, or without any general audience whatsoever.
What is Social Media Optimization?
Social Media Optimization, also referred to by its acronym, "SMO," involves driving traffic to a website through new channels beyond search engines, and engaging users in a social activity (either with users, or between users). These channels can include RSS feeds, blogs, social news sites, forums, and user-generated content sites.
Social Media Optimization is for anyone involved in online marketing, advertising, or social media to learn techniques for increasing visibility in social media searches both organically and through paid advertising.
What is Social Video?
Social video is the use of video in web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue, including the exchange of user-generated videos and other content pertaining to videos. (User-generated videos is also referred to as user-generated content, or "UGC”; it is also referred to as consumer-generated media, or "CGM”).
What is Social Video Optimization?
To paraphrase Wikipedia's definition of social media, social video is the blending of the technology of online video with social interaction (i.e, an interpersonal relationship) for the co-creation of value.
Social Video Optimization can also be referred to as social media optimization, with video as the medium (i.e., the content and/or the infrastructure) to be optimized for conducing and sustaining social interaction, which leads to a positive result for both the user and the creator or business.
What Makes for An Optimized "Social Video?”
Here as some questions that I believe should always be considered for any social video strategy in business:
- Does the video reach the intended audiences on frequented social media sites?
- Does the technical quality allow for a seamless user experience?
- Does the creative capture the viewer's attention?
- Is the length of the video acceptable in keeping the user's attention?
- Does it have a story that's worth telling, and retelling?
- Is the message or messages in the video communicated clearly and effectively?
- Does the user feel like their time spent engaging with the video was of value to them?
- Does the user feel incentivized to follow their video viewing experience with either a "social action." a business conversion (lead, download, sale, etc.), or both?
- Does the video make the user want to share it with others? (For more on this, I recommend checking out this post from my video colleague, Greg Jarboe over at SearchEngineWatch, "How Do You Encourage People To Share Your YouTube Videos on Facebook, Twitter, and Blogs?")
- Does the video offer any suitable engagement features and sharing tools?
- Are there any accessible tools or features that allow users to submit their own user-generated content or 3rd party content as a response to the video; and to share those responses with other people?
- Is their an expectation and measurement of the interpersonal relationship generated from the video or around the video – from fleeting to enduring, with various levels of commitment?
Where Social Video Optimization (SVO) Trumps Video SEO
Both Video SEO and Social Video Optimization are related to search engine marketing, but also differ in several ways. Primarily, the focus of social video optimization is on driving traffic from sources other than search engines, though improved search ranking is also a benefit of successful SVO/SMO.
SVO also has more tools to work with than Video SEO (or that are of greater benefit to SVO than Video SEO). These include:
- Comments and other user feedback
- User-generated (and submitted) content
- Sharing tools
- Promotional activities
- Status updates
- Other third-party community functionalities part of video
The Co-Dependency of Social Video Optimization and Video SEO
It is technically possible for Video SEO and SVO to exist independently. For example, a video optimized for Google search results and submitted only via a Google Video Sitemap, can appear in Google's universal search results without any assistance from social media channels or visitor activity. However, one has to remember the 3 key things the Web search engines do:
- Index text
- Follow links
- Measure popularity
Search engine naturally want to show what they consider to be relevant content based on these three things. Social media channels are popular, indexable sites with video, text, and sometimes offer backlinks. Social media channels do not always depend on search engines for their audience or their content. Social media channels have built-in, self-sustaining (and growing) audiences and hubs for user content, which search engines index from for their own displayed results.
Social media channels may have their own search engines, and do not need to index Web search engines results for their own content. However, much of the content that is on social media channels is likely coming from users who originally found such content from search engines. That is why the popular social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have been adding more community-based functionality with featuring and sharing video on their websites, as well as other distribution channels.
Prediction: the Future of Social Video Optimization and Video SEO
We now reached a point for having a clearly defined and measurable business strategy that combines social media optimization with video – social video optimization, or "SVO.” Social video optimization does not require vSEO to be successful, but it should be given very strong consideration if your want to reach as many targeted people as possible (which is most often what social media marketing ascribes to do.)
I believe that businesses, which obtain an understanding and skillsets for both SVO and Video SEO, will have a huge advantage over others who are just doing one or the other. Building your SVO strategy will requiring understanding the nuances between optimizing video for social media sites and search engines; and understanding the technical aspects of computer algorithms along with the web behaviors of real people.