Since social media’s inception, companies have adopted strategies to both reach their audience and increase sales. However, a recent Wall Street Journal article said that marketers are increasingly disillusioned about the connection between easy metrics, such as Facebook “likes” and Twitter followers, with sales. It’s an age-old struggle, but also becoming more difficult thanks to the social networks themselves. New algorithms make engagement difficult, and advertising on social media is challenging due to minimal reach and lack of consumer adoption.
This loss of connection has led some to declare social media as a medium to communicate with their audience as dead. But such a declaration ignores engagement and the potential to build brand advocates. Companies that are strategic in their social media efforts recognize that fans can use social media to form communities, and as a result, strengthen the brand and gain new followers.
The Wall Street Journal article featured a Gallup report that found that consumers are much more likely to turn to friends and family members when looking for brand recommendations. Recent Facebook News Feed changes have made it nearly impossible for brands to reach customers without buying ads. But remember, social activity doesn’t solely involve information that originates on social. Think sharing a news article or content from an email newsletter.
This makes the people who share your email promotions on social that much more valuable. For example, a consumer may rarely use an emailed coupon but shares it on social media. Five of their friends use the coupon. Under the old “likes and followers” mentality, this individual’s full worth wouldn’t be realized. He or she is more valuable to a marketer than the consumer who uses the coupon but never shares it on their social networks. Moreover, the recipient that shared the coupon may be worth more due to the fact that they influenced additional measureable transactions.
Combining email marketing and social media allows businesses a simple, yet effective way to reach fans on social media while developing brand advocates. Here’s how brands can identify their advocates:
- Social share buttons: One way to encourage brand advocates to provide social share buttons in an email. Make the process as easy as possible on subscribers. Few will have the patience (or the know-how) to copy and paste URLs. Buttons are far more accessible.
- Attribution tracking: Once a fan shares the campaign, companies can attribute opens, shares, new subsequent subscribers, and revenue back to the original subscriber. By tracking this, companies will be able to measure the value of a customer and tailor future emails to better serve their customers.
- Email subscription options directly from a post: Providing an option to subscribe to the campaign’s email in the shared promotion will allow interested customers to subscribe right from the News Feed. Interested friends of fans can become new customers.
- Empower customers: Allowing your customers the ability to share your campaigns is an alternative to promoted posts and other display advertising. Shared campaigns show up in a News Feed naturally and seem less intrusive than a paid advertisement. As a result, the customer who shares the campaign feels more invested in the brand, and will likely continue to advocate.
- Increased engagement: The easier it is for consumers to advocate for the brands they like, the more likely they are to do so. Incorporating these recommendations will do just that. As customers continue to share, marketers can provide an opt-in for new customers, who can then become loyal customers.
Social media may not be the driving force of all sales, but there is a definite benefit for brands that strategically incorporate social media in their email marketing efforts. By combining the two marketing platforms, brands can better engage with fans and offer new ways to share information. Consumers who desire to share are given an easy yet effective way to interact with a brand. Social media is alive, and when partnered with the right tools, can be effective and influential.