What Social Media Must Learn From E-Mail

Article first published as What Social Media Must Learn From E-Mail on Technorati.

Most e-mail marketers will agree that “batch and blasting” the same e-mail message to a single list is not nearly as effective as segmenting your lists and sending targeted or personalized content. While it does require more planning and work, this effort will pay off in:

  • More opens, clicks, and sales
  • Reduced cost (assuming you’re paying per delivered e-mail)
  • Fewer un-subscribes

It’s an obvious thing. Send me valuable information that I want and I’ll read it. Send me stuff that has no applicability to me and I’m going to ignore it and probably you. What’s interesting is that most companies only have a single Facebook page or a single Twitter account creating a “one size fits all” approach to their customer base.

Let’s look at a few examples:

Two posts by Sports Authority – right next to each other. If you’re a basketball fan, do you care about golf?

Sports Authority 1Sports Authority 2

Now Walmart – mixing Shareholders’ meeting information with Fajita Salad recipes.

Walmart 1
Walmart 2

Companies do want to add “personality” into their Facebook posts.  And there might be value in getting that “golf fan” to become excited about basketball.  You may also want to ensure that you have something being sent out so that your page is not perceived as dormant. However, the stakes are different in social vs. e-mail. In e-mail, if I don’t like your e-mail, I’ll ignore it and delete it. If you bother me too much, I’ll unsubscribe. In social, the same thing does happen as well through “unliking” or “unfollowing” a brand. In addition, because of Facebook’s EdgeRank system, ignored posts have an interesting hidden effect. If people are not engaging with you (e.g. by clicking on a link, watching a video, making a comment, etc.), you will drop off most consumer’s Facebook wall and they’ll simply never see your message unless they come to your Facebook page directly.

Let’s look at Microsoft now:

Microsoft 2

Microsoft - Search On Facebook


They’ve created a variety of separate pages based upon product. They also have a basic “social preference center” where people can easily opt-in to receive information on multiple brands and products. Segmenting their newsfeeds not only helps ensure that people receive information that they want, but it also creates additional touch points for your brand to rise above the noise.

If you are using Facebook’s open graph links with the right social media management platform, this can be taken to an even more powerful level. Take a look at Zappos where you can “like” any product on their site:

Zappos Use Of Open Graph Links


The short-term benefit of this for Zappos is the viral impact of that “like” showing up on the customer advocate’s wall – ideally to create comments and engagement from their friends. Going forward, Zappos could group similar likes together and publish targeted updates for people that expressed interest in Teva shoes, kids shoes, or sandals. Open graph links provide a way to create valuable news feeds that can point to a web site’s product page (without the necessity to create a separate Facebook landing page).

Another excellent example of this is Mashable Follow. It allows readers to build a targeted preference center for the types of information that they want to receive by “liking” topics and information.

Think about how effective e-mail marketers are segmenting their traffic and think whether you could do the same thing with social. By vertical? New customers? Location? Frequent Purchasers? Differentiating your news stream and targeting your customers will help yourise above the noise. If you find a way to get the messages that matter most in front of your busy customers, they’ll love you for it.


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