Keep in mind what own (hint: you don’t own Facebook or Twitter)
There is a rush of individuals and small businesses going toward Twitter and Facebook as their main points of contact with their customers. In fact, a prominent social media consultant told me recently “If I had a big email newsletter list I’d try to convert those people to Twitter and just use that. It’s faster and better.”
I completely disagree.
The reason is clear: ownership. If you have an email list, you own that list (and you better be using an email service like Mailchimp or Aweber to be sending your messages!). An email list can be curated, controlled, built up over time, but can’t be taken away from you forcefully unless you use it for spamming. Your Facebook Friends or Twitter followers? Look in the fine print of the Facebook and Twitter rules of service and you’ll discover something I doubt you’ve thought about: you don’t own anything. You don’t own your lists, your friends, your tweets, your posts, your maps, your identity. Even your photos are in a grey zone … in order to publish them to the web you first have to release some control.
To Twitter and Facebook you are, honestly, simply ones and zeros. And if Twitter or Facebook crash and burn in a blaze of glory? Bye bye to your communication with customers.
Am I telling you to not use them? Of course not. But here is the goal, and always focus on it: in the end, the top level of trusted communication is an individual willingly signing up for direct email communication from you. So make it special. The burden is on you, but the burden will make you better.
Think about it: your email list is full of people that have given you permission to send them stuff. Twitter is not … twitter is full of people that have chosen to keep an eye on you. If you put out good info and links and become a resource they will look actively for your tweets. Facebook is full of people that have expressed they “Like you.” That’s nice. They like you. It’s a good step. But do you truly have their attention? A Facebook wall post is often scanned and scrolled past. If they click on it, that’s great. But always offer more if they take one more step: join the email list.
What to offer to email subscribers? Exclusive content, special ‘insider’ info, even something simple like a free beautiful photo or a poem or an idea once a month is enough to bring most people to sign up.
They simply have to know they are getting a bit more than the run of the mill ‘follower’. It’s as simple as that.