Email vs. social media: Sharing habits differ

Oct. 25th, 2010

In a recent post , I stated that email was still a key marketing tool—even in the wake of newer channels like social media. This got me thinking about my email and social media habits as a consumer.

I receive a lot of email (newsletters, promotions, etc.) from a variety of brands. I also follow many of these same companies on Facebook. Even though they're delivering much of the same content via status updates that I receive in their emails, I haven't unsubscribed to most of the emails. Why? A couple reasons.

First, there's a high probability that I'll miss a company's message in my Facebook News Feed. Unlike the majority of Facebook users, I prefer the Most Recent to the default Top News News Feed option. This means my News Feed includes updates from everyone I'm "friends" with. So, chances are good I'm going to miss an update (or two or three) from the companies I follow. Similarly, unless customers are regularly interacting with your company on Facebook, your status updates won't appear in their Top News feeds.

Second, I prefer sharing content via email than via social media channels. It's easier. For example, there isn't always a Share option for content I find on Facebook. Also, an email often provides more information, and this helps me determine whether it's something I want to share. That's not to say I don't share content on Facebook, I just don't do it with the regularity that I forward emails onto friends, family, and colleagues.

Apparently I'm not alone in this behavior. A recent study by SocialTwist found that 55 percent of sharing happens via email while only 24 percent of sharing occurs by social media. That said, according to the study, social media content garners more click throughs than email—60 percent vs. 31 percent, respectively. That holds true for me; I click through more on Facebook, as it's the only way to read the entire message or access the promoted content.

Both email and social media are valuable for sharing content. However, as Jay Baer recently pointed out, "…the connections between companies and their email subscribers are far stronger than the connections between companies and their social media subscribers."

A customer who "likes" your company on Facebook or follows your brand on Twitter may show passion, but it doesn't show commitment. What it does show is the potential for a fan or follower to become a customer. Using your social media channels to get them to subscribe to your emails offers a better opportunity to convert them into an actual customer.

What channels are your customers using most often to share content?


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