This has to be the question I get asked most often about social media during interviews, speaking engagements, consulting calls, etc.
“Which social media platform is the best?”
When people previously asked me this question, my go-to answer was Twitter. It’s a completely open platform (meaning you can find and follow anyone) and it’s completely searchable. Twitter can be extremely powerful for finding people and finding conversations.
During my year of soul-searching in 2013 I realized that Twitter wasn’t the answer anymore. My new answer, and one that probably won’t change is email marketing. Yep. The best social media platform you can use to build an audience, stay in touch with customers/fans, sell stuff, etc, is good old fashioned email.
But wait, email isn’t a social media platform. It’s been around for a long time. It doesn’t hold a candle to the almighty social media titan Facebook does it?
Don’t get me wrong, Facebook has been a great social media platform over the years. I’ve been able to connect with friends, fans, and family. I’ve been able to share and promote my crazy projects. I’ve even been able to attribute sales to Facebook-only promotions. But as Facebook changes their news feed algorithms like I change t-shirts and last names, my ability to reach people with minimal cost is fading away.
Here’s what Facebook, Twitter, and all other social media networks intend to do: Let people share content and hope other people consume/engage with that content. Email does this as well, but with one caveat; people control (for the most part) their email inboxes.
There’s no algorithm change for what email shows up at the top of your email inbox.
If you send someone an email, they get it, and they have the choice to read it and engage with it. When people connect with you on social media, even though they’ve opted-in to receive your content (a follow, or like, et al), the platforms control which content gets seen the most.
Oh, and social media is effin’ crowded. There’s a new company popping up each day. Signing up for social media accounts. Thinking they’ll follow 2,000 people and some percentage of those people will follow them back and become great customers (spoiler alert: this never, ever, ever works). At least when you get spam emails you can quickly archive them, report them, or unsubscribe and never be bothered again. For a nominal fee, companies you have zero interest in can pay to promote their boring sales tweets or next sales discount on Facebook and keep showing up.
Email is the best social media platform because email inboxes are a sacred place for people. I send emails all the time that get tons of replies (because I want people to reply). I also send emails asking people to buy things and they do. Through email I’ve built trust with people by providing them value over time. I could provide the exact same value on Twitter, Facebook, etc (and I have) and have little-to-no success selling something.
When was the last time you caught yourself scrolling through your email inbox trying to get to the next email as quickly as possible? And then the next? And then the next? No one treats email like they treat their social media news feeds and not realizing that is a huge mistake.
Take a look at your social media strategy right now. Is it working? Are you creating engaging conversations and sales? Or does it feel like you’re just throwing darts into a black hole? If you haven’t prioritized email marketing, now’s the time to start. Here are a few resources that have helped me hone my email marketing strategy recently:
- Video: Growing an email list
- 1,000 Email Subscribers
- Paul Jarvis & MailChimp (Storytelling)
- Video: TheRiseToTheTop Email Marketing Strategy
- Chris Brogan’s Email Marketing Tips
- Example Email Sign-Up Page (via JamesClear.com)
- 8 Email Marketing Tips (a post I wrote last year)
Maybe you think social media is working for you because you get a few favorites on Twitter or Likes on Facebook, but those are just vanity metrics (and don’t get me started on “reach” numbers). The most important social media statistic to me right now is my email open rate.
I’m not saying you should abandon social media altogether, but I’d highly recommend focusing on email marketing first.
ps – in case you were wondering, MailChimp (aff link) is my email provider of choice.