It wasn’t that long ago that social media was brand new – adopted by mostly college kids and self-proclaimed geeks - sites like Facebook and MySpace were unventured territory for marketers. But, at the time, this new communication channel had captured the attention of the business world and companies everywhere were focused on leveraging this new channel for the benefit of their bottom line. Display ads, social media business pages and the like sprang up everywhere.
Now that the initial boon has passed, many businesses regularly include various social tactics into their branding and marketing plans. If you are like most, a cornerstone of that plan is having social media pages for your business, and icons for each featured in your email templates. While this is a smart (and relatively low cost) way to support and grow customer adoption and penetration across the email and social channels, it may not be enough to truly engage subscribers and your social audience into a deeper relationship with your brand. To provide a cohesive and compelling experience for your audience, consider integrating some new tactics into your strategy:
1. Add a link to sign up on your social media pages. Encouraging your social followers to engage in email helps to grow their participation in your program – and increase the likelihood of conversion.
2. Periodically make tweets and posts encouraging email sign up. Briefly state a few of the benefits (exclusive previews, discounts, etc.) and provide a link to your subscribe form.
3. Include social media icons with a “Connect with us” call to action in your email templates – and make sure they are located in the same place across all your creative. This familiarizes subscribers with the sites you participate in and gives them easy access to your page.
4. Dedicate a small portion of your email template to focus on a reason to connect via social. Specific questions with a “give us your thoughts” call to action, or exclusive chat with a buyer, writer, or celebrity helps provide a compelling reason for subscribers to take the time to connect through social channels.
5. Establish a #term and ask subscribers to use it on twitter for posting their thoughts, ideas, and feedback. Think about a topic that is timely or relevant for your audience that doesn’t directly link to a “buy” - - for example ask why subscribers may be happy or sad for school to be starting again.
6. Feature specific ideas or feedback from your #term topic in a future email to make it a full-circle experience and encourage future participation.
7. Leverage social conversation to inspire email content. Use the feedback you receive from an online discussion or twitter topic to craft a message for your audience. Include individual tweets (and the sending @handle, too!), or summary of results is a way to make the email message feel more like a conversation.
8. Participate in the social discussion. Dedicate staff to monitor posts and feeds, responding where relevant. Don’t leave it open to fans and followers to self-manage. That could lead to disastrous brand impact and distrust among customers.
9. Consider a contest or sweepstakes that is hosted on a social website and promoted in social channels and email. This will encourage social followers to subscribe to email and email subscribers to engage in social channels.
10. Earmark some content as exclusive for each channel. Being consistent in your messaging across sites is good for branding and familiarity, but it can also get stale quickly. Keep each message stream fresh and interesting by allowing each site some content exclusives.
11. Feature the top pinned or shared items in a single inspirational email – with links to pin/share directly from the email – or to buy. This softens the buy message by leading with inspiration and celebrates the community’s popular items.
12. Use reviews as testimonials within the body of the email – rather than featuring long specs or descriptions, incorporating a single peer-initiated opinion on a product or publication or event can build trust with subscribers and lower the hurdle to conversion.
13. Conversely, make sure that you understand what products and services are receiving low reviews and ratings, and address them. Being open to acknowledge negative feedback and act on it (and certainly let subscribers know that you have made changes based on their feedback!) can build trust with subscribers and loyalty long term.
14. Have fun with it! Social media sites are just that – social. Users look to these sites for a break from their day and to connect with friends. Even if you are a B2B or more serious-minded brand, remember to be appropriate with your messaging for the channel you are using. Think about how you can integrate fun and a lighthearted spirit with your posts and in order to forge a personal connection with subscribers and followers.
So, while each social media site has its’ own nuances that make it challenging for marketers to fully leverage to the benefit of the business, by being mindful of how each can contribute to the subscriber experience – and your overall brand – you can strategically make choices that provide a cohesive experience to customers and a lift to your bottom line.