The titanic growth of social-media marketing has inevitably brought with it dire predictions for the future of more-established marketing channels. Some commentators keen to predict the next silver bullet for marketers have announced the end of email, and even the death of blogging. Each successive social-media tool or channel is jumped on as the new best way to reach and influence your audience.
The truth, of course, is far different. Clearly, social media is no fad, but nor has it replaced email or any other more-traditional marketing channels such as direct mail.
Experienced marketers understand that success in targeting and developing profitable relationships with various audiences comes from developing a 360-degree approach with the consumer at the center. Likewise, understanding which marketing channel to use for which purpose is key to successful marketing.
In the rush to adopt anything "social," a lot of people are grabbing the closest tool at hand rather than stopping to think about the right tool for the job. As online marketing consultant Paul Gillin said in a recent webinar on Secrets of Social Media Marketing, "Start with the goal, not the tool."
Distinct Channels, Each With a Role
There are many similarities between social-media marketing and email; but they are two distinct marketing channels, and they should be used separately to enhance or magnify, not just promote, each other.
Again, according to Gillin, "Social media is for awareness; email is for retention."
In short, you need to consider and use the right combination of tools—in this case, email and one or more of a range of social-media tools available. Marketers need to understand that social-media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed, Flickr, and YouTube—to name but a few—are, essentially, personal channels. In other words, they are not where your audience expects or wants to be sold to or receive offers.