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Back to Basics: What Social Media Can and Cannot Do for Marketers
By: Elaine Reed
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I recently heard a peer say that if she could start her business all over again, the only tool she would use to generate leads and sales is email. I am an email marketer at my core, so that statement warmed my heart. But at the same time, it triggered some skepticism, too.

Yes, email is a fantastic and highly effectively marketing tool. And part of what makes it so awesome is that it is pretty cheap to do. But we shouldn’t totally toss the idea of social media. So let’s take a few minutes to look at what Social can and cannot do as part of your marketing mix.

Some of the pros of social media:
  • It is an outlet you can use to help establish expertise in your field.
  • It allows you to make rapid changes on the fly.
  • It can get you an instant response from your target market.
  • It can be an effective test bed for email marketing subject matter and headlines.
  • It can help you tap into exactly what your target market wants to know, giving you the opportunity to create more effective campaigns across all of your marketing channels.
And drawbacks:
  • Social media messages are generally not kept and referred to after they have been posted.
  • Social media messages usually do not reach your entire audience and the medium doesn’t have a mechanism that allows you to target the people who did not see your last message.
  • People who use social media from a mobile device are less likely to read an entire long-form article or watch an entire video that is more than two minutes long.
  • No matter how hard it tries, social media will not replace email. Yes, it looks like they are all taking a stab at it, and so far Facebook has probably come the closest. But consider this: all of the social networks require an email address to establish an account.
  • To make it a truly effective part of your marketing program, social media takes a lot of time. It could quite possibly require more time to execute well than email.
Email marketing and social media both have distinct and important uses for marketers. But keeping each medium in a silo reduces the effectiveness of both of them. If your company has someone dedicated only to social and someone else dedicated just to email, you'd better hope they are best friends and share the results of all of their campaigns. Using social media in tandem with email will create better, more effective campaigns.


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About the Author
Elaine Reed is a marketing professional with heavy emphasis on e-commerce and Internet marketing. She blogs regularly on her website and tweets often.
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