Are we switching off to email in favour of social media?

Social media activity continues to grow at an astonishing rate, with billions of tweets and mentions a day. This is no indicator that email activity is declining, in fact in the over 55 age group, email usage is actually increasing.

Yet there are examples of companies stopping email marketing altogether in favour of only using social media to communicate with their customers. In our recent round table we discussed whether email marketing was going to be replaced by social media.

People’s interaction with email is ever-changing, whereas once there was a ‘right’ time or day to send an email marketing campaign, it isn’t that simple anymore. People read emails multiple times, they triage them and decide to read them in more depth later, they read long emails on their smartphones during their commute, they read business emails on the weekend. All of these behaviours have occurred in the last few years, and break all the pre-existing ‘rules’ of email marketing.

How to create a social media strategy

Social Media is a hot topic in marketing, almost every conversation I have about digital turns into a social media discussion these days. I also find that while a large number of companies have started social media marketing, many companies don’t know where to start. I’ve had many discussions in the last few months where senior executives admit they know they need to do something but they don’t know what.

I firmly believe that social media is what the web will become and in most ways what the web was designed to be. The web is still in it’s infancy and the how we connect online with the real world will continue to develop. Companies need an integrated digital strategy that includes social media as a central component to ensure they meet the developing needs and behaviours of the modern customer.

The various discussions about social media have led me to outline the key items every company should consider when defining their social media strategy.

1. Set your objectives
The biggest mistake organisations make is not knowing what they are trying to achieve with social media. They do it because they see other companies doing it or because they want to be the first in their sector or niche to use social media. Social Media can be used for a multitude of reasons including positioning, lead generation, sales, customer service and marketing (in the fullest sense), amongst others. But if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. Make sure your social media objectives align with your business objectives before you set off on your exciting new journey.

2. Define what success looks like
I can’t overstate the importance of defining success, it’s the only way to understand whether you are achieving your desired objectives. You must set targets for each of your business objectives and then set the metrics that you will use to measure these targets. A customer service cost reduction objective may have metrics such as the volume of queries resolved through social media, the reduction in queries offline and net cost reduction. All of which will show whether you are moving towards your overall target.