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At the moment the use of social media is like gold rush fever in the Wild West, with everyone trying to make a fast buck.

There are loads of cowboys and cowgirls heading to them there hills looking for gold, but, despite much effort, the only people really making money are those selling pickaxes and gold pans.

While it’s perhaps still a medium to initiate discussion, raise awareness, rate and review, rather than sell shed loads of product, social media is growing very fast and can be used to gather data for future marketing.

You’d think with the huge amount of coverage and conversation social media is getting, that email would be on its way out. Well, fortunately not, we’ve seen recent research that shows the total posts on Facebook and Twitter combined add up to just 0.2% of all email traffic! (and this excludes spam). 

Email is in fact stronger than ever, with more and more email being sent around the world every day.

As Parry Malm, one of our Account Directors so eloquently put it: 

At the moment the use of social media is like gold rush fever in the Wild West, with everyone trying to make a fast buck. There are loads of cowboys and cowgirls heading to them there hills looking for gold, but, despite much effort, the only people really making money are those selling pickaxes and gold pans.

So, what channel do people actually prefer for communications of an e-commerce nature? According to a recent ForeSee report, email marketing was noted as the cause of the visit many times more often than interaction on a social network.

In the UK, 62% of all respondents stated that they preferred to hear about sales and promotions through email marketing campaigns, while only 2% said that they would rather find out about them via social networking websites.

The social media age is undoubtedly upon us, but it has barely made any impact on the ability of email marketing to drive traffic to websites.

While it’s perhaps still a medium to initiate discussion, raise awareness, rate and review, rather than sell product, social media is growing very fast and can be used to gather data for future marketing.

Therefore its value is potentially massive and cannot be ignored. It’s all about owning the data.

With social media being the focus of many e-commerce operations, we’re highlighting three key ways to exploit this channel:

Fallacy of activism

Take the example of the London riots. Within days Twitter feeds and Facebook groups were alive with talk about grand plans to clean-up the mess, with thousands promising help.

However, when it came to the day, just a couple of hundred people with brooms turned up. Just because people say they will take action, doesn’t mean they will in real life. 

Consider what a "like" or a "follow" actually means; it’s nothing more than a one-click temporary show of affection.

Reality of ownerships

LinkedIn has gone public, Facebook is expected to within one year, and Twitter I’m sure will one day soon. The common theme here is that investors are calling the shots, focusing the executive management on profits.

Now while profit maximisation is broadly a good thing, it is their profits being maximised, not yours! How would your business be affected if they charged users £1 for every ‘friend’ or ‘like’?...It could happen!

Never forget one fundamental thing: they own the data, not you, so really you are building up the audience for them, not yourself. The key is to protect yourself by bringing the data under your ownership and integrating the data into your systems.

Importance of integration

No matter how you interact with customers, or which communications channels you use, it’s vital to ingest their data into your database.

For example, consider an iPad app. When someone downloads it, Apple receives their data for possible future use, not you. However, increasingly we’re seeing newsletter sign-ups designed into the app to capture user details for the publisher’s own use.

So we’ve touched on how to exploit the never-ending growth of social media and using best practice to avoid fails. The key thing is to get a plan in place to link your social media and email together, putting yourself in control of your data to ensure you are maximising both channels.

Don’t be one of the thousands of people sucked in by get-rich-quick pickaxe salesmen.

Henry Hyder-Smith

Published 20 October, 2011 by Henry Hyder-Smith

Henry Hyder Smith is MD at Adestra and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

23 more posts from this author

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Nick Stamoulis

"Consider what a "like" or a "follow" actually means; it’s nothing more than a one-click temporary show of affection."

That's why I don't understand why site owners would buy friends/followers/fans. Those numbers may look good on paper, but what does it really mean for your brand?

almost 5 years ago

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Duncan Birch

I have mixed feelings about this article. Are you trying to say email does create activism and ownership? Is an email database not just the same as a like or follow? Social Media is not just about marketing which in fairness you did point out. It is about creating relationships with customers, understanding needs and taking learnings utilising 2 way conversation. That isn't really possible in email. Email is a marketing channel Social Media is a whole lot more. Also it maybe their data but I don't see that as relevant if I want to be informed of information, promotions of a brand doing that through a platform of my choosing (Facebook, Twitter) is my choice and I can always choose to not receive that info.

almost 5 years ago

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Christian

When someone "likes" on Facebook, it will show on their news feed that "so and so likes this place" with a link to the place. It's like the person is doing the advertising for you to all their friends. Some of their friends may see it and do the same, spreading it to their friends. Many of them may have similar interests, by virtue of being Facebook friends. It's almost like targeted advertising. If they follow then they'll get notified every time there's an update, and there is the potential for them to share with their friends and so forth as with the "like." Personally, I don't want my email filled up with advertising.

almost 5 years ago

Henry Hyder-Smith

Henry Hyder-Smith, Managing Director at Adestra

Some good comments here. Just to clarify though an email is not the same as a like or a follow - it holds more weight - when it is in your database. You then own the relationship with this customer/fan/advocate which is much more valuable!

We however disagree that it is impossible to create this two way conversation with email. As a channel you should approach email in the same way you do social - encourage sharing and conversation from your recipients.

People are free to choose whatever channel they want to receive communications and can opt-out of certain channels but the opportunity to allow them to choose to receive email from you and for you to gain their data should not be missed.

almost 5 years ago

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Nick

I'd be interested in learning more about the source behind the data? Like "the total posts on Facebook and Twitter combined add up to just 0.2% of all email traffic!" This article brings to mind, how do you determine "experts" in a field in it's infancy, not just by attracting Like, Friends, and Tweets but by monetizing them. Otherwise it's no different then passing someone on the street and saying hello. I'd rather be in your Inbox. Nice article.

almost 5 years ago

Henry Hyder-Smith

Henry Hyder-Smith, Managing Director at Adestra

almost 5 years ago

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