The debate over which is better, email or social media marketing, is an age-old debate that never seems to get solved, and depending on which side of the fence you are on you may have some strong opinions on which is the most important for business growth.
Some business owners swear by social media, while others put all their eggs in the email basket. But which is truly the key to business growth? It depends! Don’t you hate it when people say that, lol?
Personally, I feel very strongly that everyone should be building an email list as soon as they launch their business and that no business owner should solely rely on social media to grow their business.
As an online entrepreneur, you might be tempted to rely solely on social media for your marketing. After all, hitting 10k followers on Instagram or a million views on TikTok feels like the ultimate success.
However, building your entire business on social media can be risky.
For starters, you don't actually own your social media accounts; they're just rented space that could disappear in an instant.
One day you could have thousands of followers, and the next day your account could be locked for no reason.
I have worked with several clients over the years who had followings of thousands of people on social media and woke up one day to discover they were locked out of their accounts for no reason.
I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it is to listen to a grown woman sobbing on a zoom call because she spent years growing an audience that she now has no way to contact.
I wish I could say that this is a rare occurrence but unfortunately it happens ALL.THE.TIME!
Whether it's because you were running an ad that didn’t comply with the platform's ad policy, or you posted something that fell outside of what was deemed “safe content” that week, you can be shut down without notice and with little recourse to get your account back.
But it’s not just your account getting taken down that can make social media risky.
Let’s recall The Great Facebook/Meta Shutdown of 2021. Do you remember that cold dark day when the entire Metaverse disappeared?
I call it the Meta-apocalypse because for online entrepreneurs the world might as well have been ending during the six long hours, nobody could access Facebook and Instagram.
Some companies that rely solely (or heavily) on social media for their marketing lost thousands of dollars during that outage. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg himself is said to have lost $6Bn from his personal fortune during the outage (don’t worry, he’ll probably recover).
Fortunately, for those of us who have built email lists we didn’t skip a beat and it gave us an incredible opportunity to reach out to our customers and further foster those relationships. (more on that in a minute).
With social media down for the day everyone who used email had a captive audience…there was nothing else to do after all, lol!
Unfortunately, when it comes to Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, etc. you do not own those platforms.
You are basically renting space to build your business and then are at the mercy of the platform landlord (I’m looking at you Zuckerberg) to determine if they are going to allow you to keep your account or shut you down for no reason.
Now hear me out. Using social media to grow your business is essential when you are an online entrepreneur.
Can you build a business without it? Sure! But I have no idea why you would want to do that. You will have to work twice as hard to reach the same amount of people. Anyway, I digress.
Back to my point. While social media is an amazing way to organically grow your audience and get leads for your business, you don’t want to only focus on building your business on social media for several reasons.
First off, the algorithm changes are constant and this can impact your business's ability to be visible and reach your target audience, ultimately leading to decreased engagement and sales.
You also have less control over your own audience. Social media platforms own the data and the relationships you have with your followers and ultimately they decide which of your content your audience will actually see.
If you pay for advertising on social media you have a lot more control over this, but paying for advertising might not be in your budget at this time.
So while social media can be an effective tool for businesses, it's important to diversify your marketing channels to ensure a steady stream of traffic, sales, and customer engagement.
In addition, social media is great for growing an audience of followers but the only way they become leads for your business is if they either join your email list or purchase a product from you.
So what should you do instead?
Rather than focusing your efforts on growing an audience only on social media, you should be focusing on growing an email list as well.
As I mentioned, building an email list and building a social media following are both valuable ways to reach and engage with your target audience.
However, there are several reasons why building an email list, in my opinion, should take priority over building a large social media following. Here is why:
When you build an email list, you own the data and have full control over who receives your messages and how they are delivered.
On social media platforms, changes in algorithms or platform policies can impact the visibility of your posts and limit your reach. If you have been on social media for more than a month you can testify to this (can I get a witness!).
Between platform changes, updates to the algorithm, and the fact that these platforms decide one-minute feed posts are king and then the next minute everyone better be lip-syncing and pointing at words in their video, they may no longer be relevant. Ugh, it’s all too much to keep up with!
An email list allows you to get up close and personal with your audience. There is a lot of trust that comes from someone who is willing to give you their email address and allow you to take up space in that precious inbox.
Email is a much more intimate form of communication than a social media post that they can quickly scroll past because it also allows an opportunity to build a relationship with your audience.
You can segment your list based on specific interests and send targeted messages to different groups.
Social media platforms, on the other hand, often use algorithms to determine what content users see, and you don’t have as much control over who sees your content or if they see it at all.
Emails have a higher engagement rate compared to social media posts, and subscribers are often more likely to act on an email than on a social media post.
This is because emails are often considered more personal and targeted, as opposed to social media where users may see hundreds of posts in a single night of scrolling.
An email list is a long-term asset for your business.
You can continue to use your email list to reach and engage with your subscribers, even if they haven’t interacted with your social media account in months or years.
Of course, this doesn't mean you should abandon social media altogether.
When partnered together, social media and email can work together to be a powerful lead-generation machine.
Just remember, don't put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify your marketing channels and build an email list to ensure a steady stream of traffic, sales, and customer engagement.
So, which is better, email or social media marketing? The answer is simple: Both! With the right strategy, you can use both to grow your business and reach your target audience. You don’t have to choose sides. Whew, what a relief!
If you would like help creating a marketing strategy for your online business that encompassed both email and social media to fill your funnel with consistent client leads then check out The Client Accelerator, my signature marketing and lead generation group coaching program!
Hey! I'm Rebecca!
I'm a business coach and marketing strategist and I help service professionals, coaches & consultants simplify their marketing and sign more clients!
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