Facebook and Twitter are social media sites, but they're also news sources. With 193 billion page views in December 2009, Facebook was almost as trafficked as Yahoo and MSN combined. In terms of news stories, Facebook drives more traffic than any network except for Google, Yahoo and MSN. Anybody in the online news business knows that while positioning on Google search pages is a traffic boon, a prominent spot on Reddit or Digg can blow up your site. SEO matters. But increasing SMO -- that's social media optimiziation -- matters just as much, or more:

SMO strategy means appealing to the audience, not an intermediary; knowing what drives interest; and activating people's desire to consume and share. Sure, there is buzz among many publishers around Facebook logins and likes, and the traffic bumps that come with them. But SMO offers more far than that. It's about creating a positive feedback loop, where users are rewarded for both consuming and distributing content. The key is to develop virality in media like that of Zynga games and Groupon offers. Beyond, of course, creating great content and experiences that are worth sharing, publishers need to then reward their audiences with the full range of possibilities, including prestige, access, exclusive content and enhanced experiences.

Read the full story at paidContent.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.