The immense popularity of social networks and the meteoric rise of social media marketing are two of the most exciting new directions for PR and marketing I have experienced. That’s why I jumped on board the social media marketing train over a year ago, and it has been a huge boon to my performance-based PR business.
But in spite of the many extraordinary opportunities in social media marketing, one drawback I’ve found is the speed with which one can be forgotten. Even the social-media savvy may struggle to stay in front of and remain memorable in the minds of their friends, followers, connections and fellow group members.
The truth is that being an active and diligent social media marketer, posting and participating with consistent frequency, does not guarantee that your messages are going to be seen by everyone you would like to reach. And that’s understandable: people are busy. Some log on to their social networks at different times of day than when you happen to be on, others get involved only sporadically, and still others may only check in to see what’s happening in their group every few weeks.
Missing in Action
Tweets are here and gone in a flash. If your posts aren’t showing up in someone’s news feed or social network home page when they happen to log on, your only hope for that person to see your communication is for them to find you interesting and memorable enough to regularly visit your profile to see what you’re up to. Sadly, more often than not, the majority of your prized connections are probably missing your posts.
My solution for this dilemma is to support my social media marketing with traditional e-mail marketing activities. This one-two punch has been a very valuable approach for me: social media marketing has enabled me to increase my e-mail list by thousands with those on the list continuously receiving newsletters that carry my message.
Each week I e-mail my newsletter, containing my articles with tips on how to use PR to promote your business, to my mailing list. (I have actually been sending these weekly e-mails since e-mail became a common means of business communication, and prior to e-mail I was sending faxes.)
Unlike my social media efforts, I know that everyone on that mailing list sees my e-mail in their inbox, at the very least. Some read and respond with feedback or a request for information about our services, while others forward it to their own lists.
My newsletter helps my social media contacts remember me and what I do, and this has led directly to many new business relationships. Indirectly, I frequently receive referrals from the members of my opt-in list. And I always enjoy the times when someone from my list, who has been quietly receiving my e-mails for years without responding, finally reaches out for my professional help.
That is the real reward of combining your e-mail and social media marketing efforts.
So how do you do this? The trick is a strategy to turn your social media followers into opt-in newsletter recipients. Here are five tips for using social media to build your opt-in list:
1. Join Targeted Groups and Post Effective Discussions. Within your social networks, choose the groups wisely in which you will participate, focusing on groups that are active and contain your target market. You should post discussions to demonstrate your professional expertise and drive people to your website, taking care to make your headlines short and interesting. Making the headline for your post a question is an effective attention-getter, or using wording containing phrases like “tips for” or “strategies for” also works very well.
Be sure to post a paragraph-long teaser in the discussion body telling people what helpful information you have to share, and include a link to your website where they can read it in full. Close with a question for the reader or a statement soliciting feedback. When readers comment, your post will remain at the top of the group list where more people can see it.
2. Make Sure Your Website Is “Opt-in” Friendly. Make sure your opt-in form is prominent throughout your website, with a message telling visitors that when they sign up for your list they will receive helpful information as opposed to spam. You can also include incentives to help encourage people to opt-in. E-books work nicely.
3. Invite Everyone… But Don’t Pester. Every time you get a friend request or a new follower, send a message introducing yourself and include an invitation (with the link to your site’s opt-in form) to sign up for the helpful information you send to your list. If the new connection doesn’t immediately respond, don’t message them again with a repeat of your invitation. If they didn’t take the bait through the initial invitation, you’ll have plenty of chances to win them over as they continue to see the wealth of information you have to share.
4. Be Direct… But Not Too Often. If you have a helpful and valuable incentive to offer, occasionally post updates inviting your friends and followers to go get it. Keep in mind you are treading a thin line with this type of post, so make sure they are infrequent and are mixed in with many posts that are completely non-promotional in nature. You don’t want to be considered “that guy” who’s just there to promote to people.
5. Be Consistent in Your Social Networking. The key to making points 1 through 4 above really work for you is to stay active in your networks and groups. If you are only an occasional visitor, you might as well “stay home.” In order to reap the rewards of these strategies, post often and wisely, and pay attention to your group members.
Participation in social networks can be enjoyable and rewarding, so start posting and have fun!
Marsha Friedman is a 20-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations, hosts a national weekly radio talk show “The Family Round Table,” and is the author of “Celebratize Yourself.”