Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Email, Social Media Strategy, Blogging and Content Creation, Email Marketing Advice, Integrated Marketing and Media, Social CRM, Social Media Marketing

Social Media and Email – More Alike than Different

From a business objectives standpoint, isn’t uni-directional social media more similar to email than it is different?

Social network connectivity is becoming the post-modern email newsletter. A way for consumers to stay up-to-date with the brand, hear about special offers, and occasionally advocate to their friends. This puts significant pressure on email to be more relevant, because most of what would be contained in an email newsletter or special offer now happens faster and more personally within Facebook, Twitter or other social outposts.

Social Media is Email Without the Database

Because social communication feels more authentic and timely in most cases, email marketers must fully embrace testing, personalization and optimization to boost relevancy for recipients. Because the real advantage email has over social is data. Email knows who you are, what you’ve bought, what you click on, what time you open. Twitter knows that you are @somecustomer, and what you Tweet about, and maybe your geography. It’s no contest.

I certainly do not support the Draconian position that somehow social networks threaten email’s existence as a marketing channel. But, if email marketers don’t actually use the data they have at their disposal to increase message relevancy, then the email versus social debate become more viable. 

Unify Your Team

The first step is for  companies to devise a coordinated strategy that uses email and social communication synergistically. Today, most companies have separate email marketing and social media departments, and they need to merge (or at least cooperate fully) to eliminate the unfocused, tone-deaf message conflicts that are all-too-common today. 

To best develop thriving, mutually beneficial relationships with your customers, think of your social communication and email communication programs as two rungs on a content ladder. Google’s new Buzz technology recognizes this convergence, by treating email connections between us as the core atomic unit of the social Web, rather than newer, more ephemeral connections made on Twitter, Facebook or elsewhere.

The Content You Want, via the Channel You Choose

The future of integrated communications is in consumer choice and personalized preference centers. Today, most contact preferences center around phone, email (HTML or text), and direct, postal mail. But, isn’t “following” and “fanning” just a new version of “opting in”? Won’t we soon see forms that ask us to choose one or all of these contact methods:

  • Email newsletter

  • Blog (via RSS or email)

  • Twitter

  • Facebook

  • Remember, social media is an ingredient, not an entree. Will you spend some time thinking about how to integrate your social messaging, not building a throne for it?

    (For an interesting look into the somewhat more distant future of email and social convergence, check this post series by the thoughtful Fred Tabsharani)

    (photo by Brunogirin)

    Facebook Comments


    1. says

      Jay, I agree with the premise of your article that email and social media are similar, but one phrase made me shiver – “uni-directional social media” – YIKES! Isn't social media about 2-way communication?

    2. says

      Hi Sharon. Don't be alarmed. Sure, social media is rooted in conversations, and listening to your customers and then responding on the social Web is a pillar of social media. But, it's not all conversational. If you update your company's Facebook page about latest happenings, or create a YouTube video, or write a blog post, the conversation comes AFTER the content is sent out, not before. That's what I mean when I say uni-directional social media. Messaging you deliver to your audience that creates conversations, rather than stems from them.

    3. says

      For many companies – who look at Social Media as a new way to reach prospects – you are exactly right. Follow/fan/friend is just opt-in – and all you've done is agreed to be sent direct marketing.
      I'm actually pretty certain that by the end of this year the “marketing” end of Social Media will be rolling into integrated direct marketing – with vendors like Infusionsoft beginning to expand from email and postcards to include Facebook, Twitter, Buzz, etc.
      We need to start talking about Social Media as product (for those brands with high social utility) and Social Media as a method to improve execution (think Six Sigma or Toyota Production System).
      Those two areas are a lot more interesting than the devolution of Social Media into direct marketing.

      As an aside – if Social Media becomes just a Direct Marketing platform – I predict a significant backlash.

    4. awnpromo says

      Once again, a very compelling arguement for using Facebook! And, I particularly like you thoughts on precluding the need for 'opt-in.' I thought I was going to lose you until your wrap up on 'integration.' I still see a huge value for a business to provide personal one-on-one customer service by maintaining a list of client thru e-mail marketing.

      Great article!

    5. says

      Great article Jay – as always. You are becoming one of my favourite bloggers! One thing that I find about email 'opt-ins' as compared to say twitter, is that a lot of people are not willing to give out a lot of data – they prefer the 'non-committal' options of SM. I find that companies need to ask for LESS information to get people to follow through to the 'Thank you page' of their forms – so I agree that it will all soon start congregating into more integrated communications where we will see forms with more SM contact options. It would be good to do an experiment to see what the consumer prefers as a form of communication?
      Lucinda Callie

    6. says

      I even now feel email marketing is more efficient than the social media, Yes the fact is true that social media reaches out to a greater number, but the bounce rate is equally high.

    7. says

      Jay: Thanks for continuing to be not blog about email marketing, but also to be an advocate. It always puts a big smile on my face to see posts like these that talk about how email and social media work together. Dare I say the “digital glue?”

      Ha ha. Thanks dude. Great stuff….always.

      DJ Waldow
      Director of Community, Blue Sky Factory

    8. says

      The Email marketing technique is so versatile and quite surprising it is very easy to organize. However, the data base of the concerned company should be in good shape. Once, that

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