Next Level Social Media: Optimizing Your Online Presence

Today, we are excited to launch a new series that will take a look at new and emerging social media practices that will turbocharge your nonprofit’s online engagement. If you are a beginner, make sure to check out our sister series, Spotlight on Social Media, first. It will help you get started with everything from how to conduct an audit to how to schedule online content. 


From SEO to SMO 

Today, most of us have an intuitive sense of what SEO, or search engine optimization, is all about. These three letters have come to define both the way that we find information online and the way that we are found by others. That said, if in addition to having a website your nonprofit is also active on social media, then there are three letters that will be just as important to keep in mind, and these are: SMO. Social media optimization (SMO) is the practice of analyzing and tweaking the performance of social media channels, both in terms of content and its reach. A strong SMO practice will, over time:

  • Increase your channel’s visibility, growing the reach of your posts; 

  • Establish trust and recognition for your nonprofit’s online presence; 

  • Drive engagement through clicks, comments, and other metrics. 

SMO is just as important as SEO because there are now an estimated 2.5 billion people online. This means that it’s not enough to simply operate a few social media channels––you have to commit to producing quality content and monitoring its performance to stand out from everyone else. The next section will outline a few key strategies to help you establish a SMO practice of your own. 

The Fundamentals of SMO

To excel at SMO, it is helpful to think of the practice as relying on two key pillars: presentation and content. In other words, it’s not just what you share that is important, what it looks like will be just as crucial.

Create Great Content: To create great content, start by making sure that your posts align with your overall communications strategy. Readers of our Spotlight on Social Media series may already be familiar with the valuable strategy of creating an editorial calendar. With a high-level picture of where your content is headed over a given time period––whether monthly, quarterly or annually––it will be much easier to ensure alignment not only with your outreach goals, but also in terms of how your nonprofit is presenting itself to its online audience. This will include adhering to the elements of your brand identity and narrative,  and performing regular audits of your social media channels to make sure that the content you are posting is as relevant as possible to your followers. You could also complement your audit with a regular scan of your platforms’ analytics to learn more about your audience’s habits, preferences, and needs.  

Keep It Interesting: Once you come to know your audience better, you can further optimize the reach of your content by introducing variety in the kinds of content that you post. If you rely heavily on text, for example, consider blending in visual assets, or try rotating a number of formats so that your posts also include videos, graphics, and other interactive components to keep your followers engaged. Make sure you’re also making strategic use of hashtags: know the ones that are relevant to your field or community, and include them in your channels’ bios to help new followers find you with greater ease.

Promote Yourself: In addition to using hashtags, make sure that your social media handles are widely publicized in all your public-facing assets. This includes business cards, newsletters, email signatures, your website, and so forth. As much as possible, keep your handle the same across all social media platforms for greater brand awareness. Likewise, make sure you’re always filling out your accounts’ bios and about sections with all the appropriate information: your organization’s name, website, business hours (if appropriate), location (if relevant), newsletter sign-up, or other calls to action. 

Track Your Links: Another powerful way to optimize your social media presence is to use link shorteners or ‘link in bio’ services to track the reach of the URLs you share. These tools come with built-in analytics that let you know how many clicks your link has received and other valuable information that will help you identify your top-performing content faster. 


Think of your social media presence as an extension of your community. Make your organization approachable and easy to find, and invest some time to find out what your audience is most interested in hearing about from you. You can also use your channels for interactive activities such as livestreams, Q&As, reviews, and other live events that can go a long way in deepening your connection with followers and supporters. 

Further Reading

15 Tips to Building a Better Social Media Presence (Sprout Social)

10 Ways to Improve Your Social Media Profiles in One Hour or Less (Hootsuite)

8 Social Media Content Creation Tips (Mailchimp)

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