Email and social are not competing channels, so email marketing and social media marketing work well together too. Email and social simply are among the many channels which consumers now travel in. They share a fundamental power to bring people together in communities and nurture and grow those communities via quick and easy communication.

The sooner you shake off the fear that one might replace the other any time soon, the better equipped you will be to leverage them for your success.

A whitepaper from Alterian titled: “Extending Email to Social Networks” (update: the whitepaper has been removed since SDL acquired Alterian), focuses on taking the fear factor out of social and demonstrating how the two work hand in hand.

Social media couldn’t function without email

As the report points out, social media is not going to be the death of email anymore than radio was the death of newspapers. If history has taught us anything, a media channel doesn’t just wink out of existence when a new one comes along. At the very least there is an overlap of years as one evolves and the other stagnates. Certainly, email and social are just too strongly linked while each possessing it’s own unique strengths for one to bury the other in the near future.

The one truth you must accept as a marketer is that the old days of shouting a message at consumers are gone. Consumers are no longer passive recipients, but assertive participants.

Word-of-mouth (peer influence) is growing massively because of social media and that power means people are talking about your brand even if you are not participating in the conversation.

According to Alterian, that means marketers need to focus on two new activities:

  1. Listening to what’s going on in social media in order to understand how their brand is being perceived and discussed
  2. Participating in the social media world to increase engagement with customers and prospective customers

Social media couldn’t function without email. For example, Facebook and Twitter use email for account creation and updates, so even though people are spending more time on social networks, email is not going to die off anytime soon. Email and social are like peanut butter and chocolate – two great tastes that go great together.

Email marketing and social media intersect at two key points:

Brand awareness is apparent in that you can use both email and social media to drive it. In fact, one can drive the other. For example, creating a Facebook page and then using your newsletter to drive people to that page. Creating a Twitter account and using it to encourage subscribers and using the newsletter to build followers on Twitter.

Always remember that what you really should be doing is creating multiple channels so that individuals can connect with you on their terms and not yours – that is the real power of the cross-channel reality of marketing today.

Sharing content can be a bit trickier, but at the most basic level you could be tweeting links to positive Facebook or blog comments or flattering blog posts about your brand. Better yet, reach out to your fans and ask them what kind of content they would like to share and provide. Your customers use your products and no one knows better what value those products bring to their lives than those using them everyday. Indentify the social advocates you have and support and encourage them!

Some common ways to use social media with email as presented in the Alterian paper:

  1. A newsletter type email were marketers highlight specific pieces of content on social networks, such as polls, submissions of content, contests, etc
  2. Creating offers on the social networks and then sending the email with a link to the content on the social network. This will encourage email recipients to go to the social network where content sharing can happen more naturally.
  3. Including links to all the social networks where the brand has a presence so that people can connect with the brand at the site of their choice.

You can also reverse this and drive people to subscribe to your newsletter by offering incentives via social such as e-coupons and contests.

If you are not using social now then the very first thing you should do is what you always do when you are learning something new: look, listen and learn. Read up on what others are doing, network with your business connections who are already using social and find out what is and what is not working for them and listen, listen, listen to what people are saying about you on social.

It’s like a cocktail party, first find out what people are talking about, scope the vibe in the room, get comfortable and then if you have something worthwhile to offer, speak up.