Social media. It’s cheap and easy to get a lot of followers, likes, or whatever. And it feels good to have a big following on social media… it feels like… success. But is it? I already wrote about being aware of vanity metrics and focusing on things that really count – like sales. :)
Social Media – The Good
There are a lot of positive aspects of social media, including…
The ability to gain a large following. This is one of those situations where it is “simple” but not always “easy”. There are steps you can take and processes you can put in place to leverage social media and grow tremendous numbers of followers. (If you’d like to know how I’ve handled this in the past, comment below. If a few people comment, I’ll write a post on it.) Anyway, it really isn’t that hard to get a few thousand followers on your social media channels. Good news, right?
The ability to blast a single message out to all followers at once. Almost by definition there is a one-to-many experience with social media. You post one message, update, tweet, or whatever and it gets broadcast out to everyone who is engaged with your social media account.
It can be very interactive. Granted, a lot of people don’t use it this way (what I’d call the “right way”) but it can be extremely interactive and engaging. You can converse with people both privately (but why) and publicly and encourage other people to join in an participate in the discussion. Far too many people just blast out messages and never truly engage, but that’s their issue, not an issue of the platform.
Cheap – or in many cases free! You can build a social following and engage with them for almost nothing – or in many cases literally nothing. Go start a Twitter account, find some followers, engage, and boom – you’re on social media!
Social Media – The Bad
Too many “followed”. Just as I stated it is easy to gain followers, it is easy to follow others. And it seems lately that most people on social media follow hundreds, if not thousands, of other people/brands/etc online. That means you might wind up being just one of thousands of messages competing for people’s attention.
It’s often very “now”. I get Twitter alerts (and Facebook notifications) for certain specific things that I don’t want to miss. But for everything else – that doesn’t have an alert set up, which I guess most people don’t bother with – I don’t see it. I might check social media a couple times per day but unless you post something right when I’m looking, or shortly before, I probably won’t see it. Even with my Twitter account only following less than a thousand people, it gets very noisy very quickly. For me to scroll through and try to take notice of every single post that happened since my last check, well, it just isn’t possible.
Who knows what gets showed? I have no clue how Facebook decides what to show me and what not to. I know it doesn’t show everything from all of my “friends” because I can click directly to someone and see posts that don’t show in my feed. So just the fact that I’ve liked your page, and that you are putting out content, doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily see it. This is beyond the timing issue mentioned above.
Email on the other hand…
On the other hand, if someone has opted-in (purposely agreed to join) my mailing list, I can send information out to them with a fair level of confidence that they’ll at least get a chance to see it. Now, they may or may not open and read the email, or they might open it but not read the entire thing, but that’s an issue with the messaging and the content, not the medium. In fact, even with social media channels you have this same challenge. Make sure you understand how to create compelling messages and valuable content if you want people to read it – regardless of where you put the content.
You may, or may not, have noticed that a lot of strong brands are working harder to build their email lists lately. I’ve personally noticed a huge swing back in this direction. A number of years ago people seemed to largely abandon email (perhaps because of the large volume of spammers?) and focused on other venues. Now email opt-in forms are very commonplace. In fact, I’m generally surprised (and sometimes annoyed) when I read a post from someone that I really enjoy and I want to subscribe to get their new posts as they release, but they don’t make it easy or even possible in some cases.
If you have an email list you can engage your community by sending them new valuable content when it comes available; you can make them aware of specials and promotions that you are running; you can ask for their input or participation in a survey to better meet their needs; there are a lot of things you can do with a good email list.
Make sure it is a good list and follow the rules
Never buy an email list. Make it easy for people to join your email list but don’t manually add them unless they ask to be added. You don’t care about the number of people on the list as much as you care about the engaged people on the list. Emailing a bunch of people who don’t care about you or your content is a waste of resources. But someone who chooses to join your list is expressing an interest in the content, services, or solutions you are providing.
In every email give a way to unsubscribe. People will leave your list – and that’s okay. If they weren’t someone interested anyway, then let them go. Make it easy for them to stop getting the emails.
Don’t just sell. If I join your email list I want something of value, and I don’t mean some sales pitch or one-time coupon. I’m giving you permission to engage with me, so do that. Provide some valuable and interesting content for free, and if you do, I won’t care if you occasionally mention your paid services as an option.
I hope these thoughts are useful. If so, please consider subscribing to MY email list so you can get notified of new posts that I publish. The volume is fairly low because I try to focus on quality over quantity, and it is very easy to get off the list if ever desired. :)