Facebook & Social Media vs. Email: a Look at Commitment

Social Media. Email marketing. Both are mediums through which you talk to people, people who are interested in what you have to say.

We’ve posted about the relationship of Facebook and Email, and about how it is important to use all forms of communication to get the word out to people who will listen about your business.

But are all listeners created equal?

Committal and Non-Committal Relationships


I’m sure you’ve all heard someone say ‘I have 100,000 followers on Twitter’ or ‘I have 100,000 friends on Facebook’. But you know they don’t really have 100,000 actual friends, let alone know all of those people.

Chances are they are only really friends with a small fraction of those people. The same is true for businesses and the people who follow them through their social media outlets.

All a Twitter follower (or Facebook fan) has to do to listen to you is click a “follow” or “like” button. That’s pretty non-committal; you don’t know how interested those people actually are in what you have to say. After all, they have invested very little; all they’ve done is click a button.

Email is a much more committed relationship. People have to do more than just hit a button. They have to enter their information on your form and click to sign up. And if you’re using confirmed opt-in, (which you should 😉 ) open an email and confirm that they want to receive information from you.

Email: Commitment Through Confirmation


Confirmation is a big part of the commitment process. Not only are you asking them (through your signup form) “do you want to receive my information?” but you’re sending them an email saying, “are you really sure you want to receive my information?”

This can be used as a way to make sure they are serious about hearing from you and serious about one day becoming a paying customer. This is a lot like qualifying a sale – basically making sure that they are serious about doing business with you.

Social Media: Larger Audience, Less Commitment


Unfortunately social media doesn’t have the ability to qualify any of the people you are talking to, so you’re never sure if they are really serious about buying your product or signing up to your service.

But social media can still have a place with your online marketing. It’s an effective way to get the word out about your business and what you offer.

It’s also a good tool to help you keep an eye on what people are saying about your company. You can then better serve your customers by understanding their wants and needs.

Put Them Together for Best Results


By using social media avenues to direct people to your email campaign, you can get those people who are really interested in what you’re offering to sign up and learn more about why they should become paying customers.

The combination of social media and email is an effective way to build both audiences. In fact, we surveyed customers about how that combination has effected building their subscriber list as well as the growth of their social media followers.

Graph

As you can see, the majority of the people we surveyed either saw a boost in their subscriber base, or a growth in their social media followers.

In addition to helping increase your audience, you can also think of this combination of email and social media as a two-tier way to approach prospective customers.

First tier: Social media followers: people who might be interested

Second tier: Email subscribers: people who took the time to sign up and confirm. The fact that these people took the time to sign up to your campaign tells you that they care about what you are offering them.

Tell Us How You Use Your Email/Social Media Combo!

So which audience is better? Neither, they are just different! Using email to boost your social media voice and vice-versa is key to reaching as many people as possible.

Understanding the different levels of commitment audiences have will help you to create the right voice and content for the appropriate medium.

What’s your personal experience when using email and social media together? What techniques do you use?

25 Comments

  1. Rita Allen

    1/25/2011 9:58 am

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head…there are indeed many tools in the toolbox and each has a particular value. Email as a vehicle for communication can offer a tighter relationship for all the reasons mentioned and social media has its value indeed. Note that clean lists perform the best and should your email list have accumulated bounces and inactives…there is a way to update these and not lose touch. This was a good comparative. Thanks.

  2. Jim Cockrum

    1/25/2011 10:48 am

    A fantastic insight. I don’t even really count a “Facebook” or even Twitter “friend” as a true prospect until they are on my mailing list. Facebook can be fickle about fan pages and have been known to shut them down for rule violations. The best use of Facebook as a marketing tool IMHO is to grow your aweber email list and count anything else that happens on Facebook as gravy…

  3. Dr. Marilyn Johnson,ND

    1/25/2011 10:49 am

    Thank you for this information. I am deciphering the social media and email maze of communication marketing. I have to say that even though I had a large list that using the confirmation marketing offered by aweber has narrowed the list down to the dedicated subscribers that have been faithfully attending my Monday Morning Money Mastermind Meetings. I am very happy about that. I will also post if on my facebook page and see how that helps. Thanks so much!

  4. Anne

    1/25/2011 2:19 pm

    Thanks Jason, I have been reluctant to embark on Social Media marketing. Your stats have now convinced me.

  5. Nick Stamoulis

    1/25/2011 3:48 pm

    Social media and email marketing both have benefits, and I agree that it’s best to use them together. While your email list may be more loyal, you never know what kind of lead can come in from social media. You are catering to different audiences, but it’s important that they both get the message.

  6. Veda Horner

    1/25/2011 5:09 pm

    Great article. I am new to internet marketing, learning as I go.
    Certainly social media is easier , but like you say do they really care.
    I have not started email marketing yet but look forward to the challenge of it.

  7. Darren Scott Monroe

    1/25/2011 6:39 pm

    I recommend the strategy of sending to my clients blog (passive)
    And having a link to signup in case it is forwarded.
    And actually offering across CM to signup to my email list.

  8. Social Media vs. Email: a Look at Commitment | Townsend Creations Inc.

    1/25/2011 6:53 pm

    […] Social Media vs. Email: a Look at Commitment […]

  9. Mike

    1/25/2011 6:53 pm

    Nice article Jason.

    One point I think you overlooked.

    You wrote “Unfortunately social media doesn’t have the ability to qualify any of the people you are talking to, so you’re never sure if they are really serious about buying your product or signing up to your service.”

    This is not entirely true. On Facebook, you DO have the ability to qualify your friends. You can focus your friend search by niche or when you already have a list, you can send it a mass message (i.e. an email) geared to do just that, qualify them.

    To me, this enables Facebook to be used as both a social and email marketing medium at the same time. Thanks.

  10. Jared Kimball

    1/26/2011 12:46 am

    This is a great comparison of social media vs. email.

    Jason, I really like how you broke down the quality vs. quantity debacle many of us struggle with.

    The way I envision social media and email is to see email as an “asset” and social media as a “resource” for gaining or growing assets.

    What do I mean by “asset”? Let’s say, that you do something the Twitter or Facebook guys consider “weird” and they decide to suspend your account. Now what? You can’t login, you can’t socialize, and you can’t join the conversation.

    As long as you have email relationship lists then this wouldn’t have a major impact on your business, because you can still get the message out.

    That’s the power of email marketing. BTW I like the pics.

  11. Gonzalo Samartano

    1/26/2011 6:55 am

    Excellent article, I’m always aware that your recommendations are really helpful. Thanks.

  12. Damon

    1/26/2011 7:22 am

    The efficacy of each marketing medium will also vary greatly depending on your offer or products.

    If you are marketing something simple and popular to consumers or with a potential for a viral response, social networks often will produce great results. The trick is to get it to be passed around by more than just your 10,0000 friends or followers. If you can get other users to pick it up and pass it on, you are probably on to something with potential for good return.

    In our experience, B2B marketing is a whole lot better suited to email. With email you have a larger commitment from your audience and more time and words to tell your story. Couple strong email copy with a highly optimized landing page and you can create an automated marketing machine. Just feed it qualified emails.

  13. Iris

    1/26/2011 11:10 am

    We experience the same kind of effects on email marketing vs facebook, although the ratio of our facebook fans far outweigh our email subscribers, but whenever new shout-outs are done, most or all our conversions come from our subscribers.

    Facebook acts more like a platform for socialising rather than monetizing.

  14. Jason Moore

    1/26/2011 11:32 am

    Rita,
    It’s so true, email can certainly lead to strong relationships and social media can help drive those relationships.

    Jim,
    I like the way you think – those extra Facebook contacts and relationships are just the icing on the cake.

    Anne,
    Good luck! Glad the stats were helpful.

    Mike,
    You are right, you do have the ability to qualify your friends, but that can really be a slippery slope. How many times can you pitch something to friends before they realize what’s going on? My advice is to use your best judgment – only you know your friends!

  15. Maria Pavel

    1/26/2011 9:03 pm

    Great insight, I’m starting to love this great article. Using both email marketing and social media is a brilliant idea, it brings you up great results, I did the same and brought the great results I deserved. I don’t use a specific technique, I just keep in touch with both methods – email marketing and social media (Facebook,Twitter). I strongly recommend both email marketing and social media.

  16. Yee Shun-Jian

    1/27/2011 2:38 am

    I have links to my facebook and twitter page in each and every email I send to my list… as a result, almost 1/3 of my email subscribers are also connecting with me on these social media platforms.

    One lesson though you need to learn… if you are not comfortable sharing your personal life with your potential clients, it’s best you set up a separate facebook/twitter account/profile meant solely for business…

  17. M.

    1/27/2011 5:29 am

    Interesting points that you have raised there. I do believe that social marketing is not really what is is made up to be. I believe a lot of IM ers think that it is good and have gotten away form what we would say is conventional.

    If it works for you, go for it but I feel it is a bit of a time wasting exercise.

    Thanks.

  18. Dan

    1/27/2011 8:03 am

    Great article, loving the illustrations too! It’s so true that social media and email marketing can go hand in hand to get the best results. Like you mentioned with social media you can never really know who is interested in your business. This is where email systems come in that can give you a full break down of results letting you know exactly how your marketing efforts are performing.

  19. PR

    1/28/2011 12:05 pm

    I use social media to attract new customers, I normally post something that will get their attention, then I join large groups where i can post on their walls. This way I get more leads.

  20. Edward G Gordon

    2/1/2011 7:12 am

    This is a point that so many people overlook. One of the biggest sins in marketing is not qualifying your prospects early on. People both under and over estimate the power of social media. The truth is that it is only another tool in the marketing toolkit and not even the most powerful one.

    For me social media serves only to throw the widest possible net from which you will winnow the time wasters and spammers. I always think of that film the perfect storm where they kept moving to different areas hoping to catch a windfall. Twitter and Facebook are like that for me.

    My experience is that anyone who signs up to a mailing list is interested in either you or your product – at least at first. Then it’s a case of not messing it up.

    I really don’t see social media as a large part of my business, I prefer article writing and list building, these two methods drive almost 78% of my sales, with google searches, social media and backlinks making up the remaining 22%.

  21. Tessa

    2/8/2011 10:20 pm

    A good mixture of the top sites twitter / facebook and an email marketing program is a good idea. Perhaps an on and off page blog that connects the three together too.

  22. Alfred

    3/7/2011 9:26 am

    Wowuu, yes, your tips are working for me, but how to follow the people who are interested, using the same social network particularly the twit?

  23. Peter Lee

    11/10/2011 11:11 am

    great article, this is indirectly helpful for seo people too. I love the images you put up for the article. As for the article itself, Well written. keep up the good job.

  24. Adam Skiba

    2/6/2012 10:43 pm

    I’ve found that sending Facebook traffic, whether from Facebook Ads or Edgerank, to an i-Framed email opt-in page on a Facebook Fan Page converts at a higher rate than sending that traffic to an external website.

  25. Filippos

    5/31/2013 5:07 am

    I think that both emails and Social Media are main factors of getting traffic. But they also need special treatment! You have to cautious mainly with the way you are going to post the emails or you shares. However if you know how to use them, they are going to boost your traffic!!!