Integrating Social Media Into Your Email Strategy
Synergizing the Social
Social media is all the rage today and marketers everywhere are trying to decode its formula for success. Their aim, like yours, is to unlock the potential for transforming tweets, texts and daily status updates into real-world revenue. Seems simple enough… but is it as easy as it sounds?
To harness the power of these social masses, it pays to get serious about integration. By dovetailing social media touch points with your email marketing strategy, you fortify every campaign for maximum impact. And that’s a combination you can count on.
The Social Landscape
Before you forge ahead and create that email integration strategy, be sure to survey social media’s vast footprint. Consider the what, where, and why of each tool and its relevance to your goals. Since each medium varies according to its usage, audience, functionality, and topic, some may warrant priority inclusion… while others simply won’t relate.
As with any new trend, the rate of adoption, your engagement, and who’s using what are key metrics to ponder:
1. Is your company seen as a social media leader or a slow-mo skeptic? The role you play in digital technology and social media adoption impacts your brand and audience building potential. The more involved you are with social media, the greater response you’ll get from these communities.
2. How do you know which types of social media tools to invest your time in? If your business is inherently conservative, then initially waiting to join social media and then later endorsing proven players is a good move. However, if your brand likes risk and sees itself as cutting edge, then early adoption and participation in a wider swath of niche focused tools, blogs and forums fits the bill.
3. Who’s using what social media tools? Since 75% of US online adults now participate in or consume social content at least once a month, it’s a safe bet that most of your online audience is already plugged in. When developing a social media strategy, consider your unique customer demographics, keeping in mind that use varies by age and behavior:
a. Young adults lead the way, as content creators, critics, collectors (RSS feed, votes and tags), joiners, and spectators
b. 35-44-year olds are second most active, especially as critics, joiners, and spectators
c. 45-year olds and older trail the pack, but are catching up quick
Source: Forrester, The Growth of Social Technology Adoption
4. Which social media tools are most popular? As one of the fastest growing networks, Facebook now outranks MySpace in unique visitors. That means it receives more traffic, but MySpace is still a major force if you target young adults, teens, and music hounds. Twitter, another swelling social network, currently ranks number three. Other communities like LinkedIn, Tagged, and Classmates weigh in next.* As you break down subcategories like photo sharing, product reviews, and video posting, sites like Flickr, Flixter, Amazon, and YouTube rise to the top of their respective domains.
Integrate & Engage
The rapid pace of social adoption on the Web is enough to make your digital head spin. The fact is, without practical ways to manage information, keeping up with social media opportunities can deplete rather than enhance the best-intended marketing strategy. Social media’s not going away… and rather than ignore (or shy away from) its formidable surge, successful marketers are discovering how to integrate and engage this tool to garner big results. When you jump in strategically, with plan in place, you’ll discover new ways to build your brand and grow your business.
Integrating social media into your email strategies might feel overwhelming at first. But as you create the right integration plan, things fall into place. Here are some starter steps for launching solid social media engagement:
1. Define your goals
Outline what you want to accomplish through the social media channel. Ask then answer these questions first:
- How much incremental revenue do you need to generate?
- How much traffic do you want to drive to your website?
- How many new prospects would you like to identify?
- How will engagement help to build brand awareness?
- How will you engage and retain customers?
2. Know your target audience
Learn how your email subscribers are engaged with social networking. Then determine which social destinations are most relevant to your customers through surveys or social data analytics.
3. “Listen” to conversations about your brand
Use social media monitoring tools to learn how your customers are engaged with review platforms, video sites, blogs, and Twitter
- Hear what consumers are saying about your brand
- Find influencers and learn where to engage with them
- Learn what media channels your customers are engaging with
- Begin to think about what you have to offer to the dialogue
- Start with free listening tools:
- Search.twitter.com, Backtype, Technorati, SM2, Filtrbox
- Graduate to paid platforms:
- Buzzmetrics, Cymfony, Radian6
4. Create a brand presence on major social destination sites
Establish brand profiles on big social sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
- Communicate with your fans to announce new products and create buzz
- Keep your profile active by sending emails about special events or offers, posting text updates, sharing photos and videos, and adding/inviting new friends
- Set up a Twitter account and start tweeting about your email program (example: Hot deal today)
5. Integrate social media with what you are doing today
Email can be a catalyst and key tactic to your social networking plan. Treat your social media marketing channel like you do others:
- Build a strategy and tactics around the objective
- Target email content by social destination site
- Leverage email to drive traffic to social destinations
- Encourage viral sharing
- Incorporate user generated content
6. Leverage Your Email Program
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by social media opportunities. Your email program is a great place to start testing social media integration because you already have a ton of great content you can leverage and expand on. To keep it simple, try picking one tactic, testing it, and build on your learnings.
7. Offer various ways to engage
- Product promotions: Encourage subscribers to submit text and video reviews; present easy links for them to do this through all major social tools, such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blogs, Digg, StumbleUpon, and others.
- Blogs: Invite subscribers to take part in the conversation!
- Videos: Direct viewers to your YouTube channel or Web site to watch and share videos
- Forums: Let readers tap the knowledge of and converse with others
- Facebook pages: Ask subscribers to interact with and become “fans” of your brand; challenge them to make
8. “Friends” with other brand enthusiasts
Twitter: Invite fans to “follow” you; post updates about your email program, share your tweets, or engage in a conversation
9. Directly promote social media
Get even more serious about social media by dedicating some emails just to its promotion. Highlight your Facebook profile, tease subscribers with up-to-the-minute blog campaigns, and get readers to Digg you and sign-up for RSS feeds.
Tell subscribers through email that you’re plugged in, where you’re connected, and the extras available to them when they engage (regular updates, free assets/widgets, latest videos, and podcasts). This tactic not only elevates your brand to feature-rich, technically savvy, it also opens the door to huge new markets reached through viral growth.
Here are a few socially-minded ideas, perfect for email presentation:
- Promote your blog or “blogumentary,” in which you give a play-by-play account a time-sensitive event
- Encourage readers to “become fans” and reap the rewards-think coupons, discounts, limited-time promotions, sneak peaks and unfiltered commentary
- Follow-up an event with unique content, special photos, and “thank you” offers
It’s a Wrap
Although social media, like all things digital, endures constant change… some things we know for sure. Staying connected to your customers and making friends is good for business.
By remembering everyone online is a potential critic, creator and consumer, you can adjust your message and communication channel to make a lasting and profitable impression. Your key to success: creatively integrate your email strategy for powerful social media engagement.