Social networks were designed as a way for people to connect with friends and family. Despite this origin, publishers have gotten awfully dependent on using social networks to distribute content. At the end of the day, publishers shouldn’t put all of their eggs in this basket, since these networks are constantly evolving to serve their basic purpose: to connect people.
While social media may offer publishers an avenue to acquire new customers and reach new audiences through viral sharing, on its own, the channel doesn’t offer publishers a solid leg to stand on. While there are branding benefits to using these networks, they don’t offer publishers a great way to build audiences whose views generate revenue.
Social networks are also constantly rigging their algorithms and most content is hidden, which means that just because a person is a fan, doesn’t mean he or she will even see your content.
In addition, relying on social’s third-party data isn’t a solid way to build a relationship with an audience. The data those networks offer publishers are so clouded that you can rarely understand audience response rates in any compelling way.
While social is a great place for publishers to meet readers, email should be at the center of your social strategy in order to build a strong marketing program. Email allows publishers to connect with their fans in a direct capacity and learn more about them through first-party data. This approach helps publishers build long-term relationships with interested subscribers and creates the ability to personalize content.
A social marketing strategy should go a lot deeper than posting content and vying for retweets. Smart publishers are realizing the benefits of adding email signups to their various social accounts, and this is getting much easier to do across social mediums.
NBC Olympics, for instance, built an email signup page directly on its Facebook page, which allowed it to capture email addresses on the social page. Viewers that like the Facebook page could also sign up to directly receive emails based on their interests, since these email signup forms have preference centers built in.
For example, a fan could follow a particular athlete such as Michael Phelps or a favorite sport and sign up to get alerts when that athlete is competing or when the sports game is taking place. The platform automatically sends these subscribers email notifications every time there is news about the athlete or the sport, as well as reminders that the competition is about to begin. This offers fans the level of engagement that they would hope for when signing up on social, but that they may not get if they miss the content in their Facebook News Feed.
Another way to build email into social is through blogs. For example, on blog site Medium, many publishers are adding links to the end of their posts, encouraging readers to sign up for their email newsletters. This is a very simple way to give new audiences the chance to connect on a deeper level via email that doesn’t involve integrating with anything.
Many publishers are also taking advantage of the popularity of Instagram to reach new users. While it’s a great vehicle to show off images, it’s not the best channel for readers to engage with content. The best way to draw audiences from the site is to add a link to your newsletter signup page and promote it in the description of your company in your Instagram account.
The bottom line is that while social is a great place to meet new people, the best way to build a relationship with those audiences is through the proper nurturing that only email can provide. Email should be at the center of every solid social strategy, and savvy publishers are experimenting with ways to collect email addresses within social networks in order to nurture their connection with their fans.
Tony D’Anna is the CEO of email service provider PostUp.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.