Social media is a great way for publishers to acquire new customers and promote their brands to new audiences. The channel has proven itself to be a promising way to get content in front of new eyeballs with its viral nature. Shareable content is a great way for your messaging to spread.
But when it comes to forming long-term relationships, social is often a vacuum. Even if a person does like your brand on Facebook, chances are that they won’t actually see your content, since the social giant manipulates algorithms and doesn’t show all content to everyone even if someone likes your page. Facebook’s reach is in decline, with only about a 2 percent chance that your content will be seen.
On Twitter, the chances of hitting someone are even slimmer. Think about it: Even if you tweet several times per day, unless you tweet at the exact moment that your fan sits down in a coffee shop to log into Twitter, they will miss the message in their feed.
Snapchat may be appealing for consumers to connect with their friends, but it isn’t really a great place for interacting with fans. The nature of Snapchat is ephemeral. Unless you are going to build a community group and have an employee working on that group full-time, then you are likely not to connect with fans in this social space.
While social has the potential for your content to be shared, it isn’t exactly the best place to build a sustainable audience. So how can publishers take advantage of social networks to build relationships? Use social as the vehicle to invite consumers somewhere else. Think of a social site as a networking event or a bar–a good place to meet new people but not a great place to build a relationship. The main goal should be to make contact and collect contact information. With an email address, you are on your way to a deeper connection in which you can meet up for coffee or take a walk in a park to get to know each other.
Email allows publishers to get to know their audience based through first-party data. Because first-party data allows publishers to get to know users on an individual level, email is far superior to social when it comes to building lifetime value for each user.
Once you have an email address, you can identify which articles your subscriber is reading and suggest additional content that they might like based on their behavior. This is a lot more powerful than just pushing content out into the echo chamber of the social sphere. Consumers that get regular emails with content that they like are more likely to come back and become regular readers of your content.
These engaged readers not only help you drive up your traffic and site visits, but they are also more likely to purchase subscriptions if you are selling premium versions of your content. Since they have seen the value of your content, subscribers are more willing to pay than someone that just read your article from a shared Facebook post.
There are a number of ways that publishers can capture email addresses and use the channel to nurture audience relationships in a social world. You can add an email signup tool to your Facebook page. NBC did this during the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, and it was even able to include a preference center in its sign-up forms so that consumers could subscribe to specific sports or athletes.
Another way to collect an email address from social is simply to put a link in your description page. For instance, you can add a link on Instagram, and fans who want to hear more can easily opt in. You can also pin tweets to the top of your Twitter page with the option to share an email address, or use Twitter’s lead generation cards. Blogging platform Medium lets authors share links back to a signup page in the author’s description page.
Consider the lifetime value of each user. If you are just focused on reaching as many eyeballs as possible, then you are setting yourself up for something that isn’t sustainable. It’s not about getting likes or fans on Facebook; it’s about building relationships that last a lifetime. Social network connections are fleeting and aren’t the foundation to build something solid.
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