Which is Better to Connect with Members?
When the topic of email marketing vs. social media comes up, everyone has a different opinion. But in the end, it really comes down to the reason you’re reaching out to people. For an association, there are pros and cons to each of these platforms. Which is better to connect with your members?
Reaching Association Members Through Email Marketing
The world of email marketing is vast. There are a ton of ways to interact one-on-one with members using email. It’s also known for having higher density engagement than social media. This is because you’re reaching out to a very specific list of members.
Emails can be segmented by job title, membership level, association interests, etc. In this way, email relates specifically to the sender in a way that social media doesn’t. On the other hand, it takes a long time to build an email list and there’s virtually no community built using email. Here’s the breakdown.
Email Marketing Pros and Cons
- More direct than social media
- More personalization available with email marketing
- A higher average click rate
- Average open rate is higher than social post views
- Takes a lot of time to build a mail list
- Email recipients don’t interact with one another
- Risk of getting sent to spam
- Less creative liberty with email
Building a Member Community with Social Media
The greatest pros of social media are its ability to connect people. By utilizing social media, associations will reach all members (and potential new members) at once. Social media allows associations to throw a wide net into the world, and hopefully bring back some engagement!
Post to social media regularly to get people to interact with your association (and with one another). Invite new potential members to join the association, advertise upcoming events open to the public, and share non-member content to engage people. You may not get as high a click rate as email, but you’ll have a better chance of engaging members and building your community. Here’s the breakdown.
Social Media Pros and Cons
- Build more of a community
- Reach more people at once
- Bring in a higher rate of leads
- Encourages members to interact with one another
- Ability to go viral with social media
- Lower click rate or views than email
- Less personal – Posts are for reaching masses
- Posts need to be consistent – it’s time-consuming!
So, which is better?
The answer is: neither! Social media and email marketing both have their own purposes. When building out a marketing strategy, consider using both of the tools to both reach members one-on-one and build a strong member community.
The cons of social media reflect the pros of email marketing and vice versa. By utilizing both platforms to the best of your ability, you will maximize member engagement. Here are a couple of examples for which to use in certain scenarios.
What to use Social Media for:
Sharing Content That is Not Member Exclusive
Do you have an article that is ungated on your blog? Share these posts to social media to engage and educate followers who want to learn more. This will give potential members an idea about the exclusive content they could be getting as a member of your association.
Asking for Opinions from Followers
Do you have questions for members and potential members? Social media is the way to go. As followers to comment below and invite them to interact with one another. Run a poll on social media to get the answers you’re looking for quickly.
Sharing Industry Related News
Did you see a news story recently that relates specifically to your association’s industry? Share that to social media rather than email. It’s much more immediate, whereas by the time the email is even sent it may be old news.
Creating Specific Member Groups
Do you want to bring a specific segment of your membership together? An example of this would be a young professionals group for the association. Create this through social media, rather than sending out an email and asking members to complete multiple steps to join a group.
What to use Email Marketing for:
Sending Member Exclusive Content
If you have member-exclusive content, you won’t want to share it openly on social media. Send members only related content through email. It’s not only great at specifically targeting members, but your click rates will be much higher through email.
Inviting Members to Events
If you want to invite a small pool of people to an association networking event or tradeshow, pick email. It is much more likely to reach the right people and the recipients are more likely to respond than if they saw a generic event on Facebook.
Sending out Newsletters
This one goes without saying, but it relates to any “newsletter like” content. If it’s member specific, there’s even more reason to add it to an email newsletter rather than post it to social media.
Sharing Your Association in an Online World
In general, if you want to cast a wide net out, go social. If it’s member specific, send out a personal email. There are exceptions to the rule, but this should be your quick general guide to email versus social media. Using automation tools like social calendar publishing tools and automatic newsfeeds, your association can make social media and email marketing that much easier.
In the world of technology, it has never been so important to share your association online as it is today.