Social Media vs. Email Marketing: When to Use Each

Small and medium businesses have so many ways to reach out to their target market today.  It isn’t always clear which way is the best.  When should you reach out via social media, and when should you send an email?  It depends on a few things.  Social media and email are both important tools in your digital marketing strategy.  They each have different strengths.  So you need to consider how your message works with the strengths of each medium.  And yes, sometimes the answer is that you should send your message via both channels.  Here’s a quick overview of how to decide whether to use social media or email.

When Is Social Media Super?

Social media is great because it is easy to share.  Your post can be seen by anyone, so it will reach new people who have never heard of your brand.  Social media channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn also give people a chance to comment and dialogue with you and each other.  It can start a conversation.  So social media is a powerful way to engage your audience.  It also gives you a way to see how people reacted.  They can like and share your post, and you can review the analytics to see how successful it was.

If you want to send out something quick and simple, such as a single photo or a good cartoon or meme, social media is the best way.  If you want to have your content shared, post it on your social media accounts.

When Is Email Excellent?

Email is more targeted.  It will reach only people who have signed up to hear from you.  While people tend to skim social media, they are more likely to take a moment and read an email.  If they aren’t paying attention when you share your social media post, they can miss it.  But an email will sit there in their inbox until they get to it.  While social media is geared toward short and sweet messages, email gives you a chance to say more.  So it is better for longer or more complex or nuanced messages.

If you want to send out an exclusive offer of some kind to reward your loyal customers, email is a great way to do that.  Want to give people a message that reinforces that they are part of your inner circle such as a sneak preview of a new product?  Email is the answer.

Some things should be promoted by all means available – email and social media.  Your blog is an important one.  Send a link out via social media and email.  But remember, an email a day is probably too much, but it’s fine to share on social media multiple times a day.  So if your blog is daily, a weekly email promotion is better than a daily one.  Sales and special events that are open to all are other times when you want to use both social media and email to reach your audience.

When you have something to say to your audience, ask yourself if it is for your entire audience, including people who have never heard of your brand, or for a specific subset of your audience.  Ask yourself if your message is short and simple or longer and more involved.  Those two questions will help you decide how to reach your audience – via social media, email or both.

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