Facebook and email list growthWith Twitter recently filing papers for a stock market flotation, social media is, once again, at the top of many people’s news agendas. Whether or not Twitter will make a better stab at it than Facebook remains to be seen, but it is the latter we’ll be focussing on today. How can the world’s largest social media channel help you grow your email lists?

Opinions on how best to engage followers and ‘likers’ on social media are incredibly varied. Traditionally, email has always been viewed as the most personable way businesses can connect with customers and, while that is still true to a degree, as email marketers, we do have to accept the fact that there are other services vying for that crown.

Likes and follows are now regarded as a way to gauge customer engagement. However, getting noticed on social media channels is becoming increasingly difficult, not least because of the way in which content is hand picked and delivered to users. Facebook has changed its newsfeed algorithm and, in doing so, has actually pushed the emphasis back to email.

Now, businesses are no longer guaranteed a spot on a user’s newsfeed. Facebook’s algorithm determines strictly whether or not your post will appear in their feed and exactly how high up it will be. Thus, an element of control has indeed been lost on behalf of the business.

Email? Well, we’re in total control of that.

So, as Facebook’s tendency to change its plans continues to benefit email marketing, how else can we use the service? More specifically, how can it help us build our subscriber lists?

Obviously, the most common way of list building via Facebook is to add a newsletter sign up button on the business’ FB page. This may get you a few subscribers, but it won’t set the world alight.

One common mistake to bear in mind is that many businesses will automatically post e-shots to their Facebook newsfeed. While this might seem a great way to further the reach of your email marketing, it can in fact have the opposite effect. Why would users be inclined to sign up to your email marketing database if they know they’re going to receive the exact same posts on Facebook? Some things are best left for email.

Instead, consider email or newsletter ‘teasers’; offer them a snippet from your latest send and encourage them to sign up and see the rest. Intrigue gets people engaged – we all know that.

So, here’s three sure-fire ways to increase the size and quality of your email lists with a little help from Mark Zuckerberg:

1. Entice

People need a reason to sign up to anything. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in email. Handing your email address over to a hitherto unknown entity is a question of trust, and in order to gain that trust, you have to be honest. If people have taken the time to Like your page on Facebook, you’ve already got a foot in the door. They will have liked you for one reason – they want to hear more. There is absolutely nothing wrong with only giving them half the story on Facebook and then encouraging them to sign up to hear more in their inbox. Don’t forget, in doing so, they are likely to share the post with their friends, thus exponentially increasing the reach of your message. Offer a free white paper, discount or voucher in return for signing up to your list. You can easily change whatever the offer in question is, too, which is a great way to keep people interested and prove that you’re an evolving company which isn’t solely interested in adding people to a database.

2. Create a contest

Social media, when all is said and done, is still very much a playground for its users. Businesses can indeed harness its power to reach more potential customers, but the way in which those people interact with each other and use the service is akin to a coffee break. Jokes are made, shared and thoughts on last night’s episode of Eastenders put forth. Games are also played, and this represents another opportunity. People like contests. People like winning things. Create a contest with a relevant, exciting end result, but make it clear people have to sign up to your email list in order to be entered into the draw. Start it on Facebook, finish it on email.

3. Don’t forget opt-in

When you collect email addresses from Facebook or any other source, you have to provide an opt-in. This is particularly important in the latter’s case, and if you are enticing people with something like a contest. There is no escaping the fact that they might see the contest or the invitation to join your list as a once-only thing. They may not expect – or want – any further communication from you. Make sure you give them a clear option to continue receiving emails. Not doing so could lead you into hot spam territory in the future.

Image courtesy of arztsamui / freedigitalphotos.net

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Mark is one of mailingmanager's email experts. His contributions to this blog openly share the tricks, tips and best practices he's learned while running multiple e-marketing campaigns.

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