I was once the butt of a prank that left me with some explaining to do. A week before my wedding, I was dumb enough to leave my desk unattended with my Facebook account logged in, this within a few minutes of pranking a colleague’s Facebook account. The victim of my joke acted fast, updating my status to read: “Sigh, one more week till I get married *cries*”. I repeatedly clicked delete, but by then my fiancé had already seen it. The die had been cast, the damage done. In this case, 3 minutes of social media posting had been enough, but luckily I was able to remove it before it encouraged comments from my quirky and often inappropriate friends.

And that’s the great thing about social media. It’s perfectly suited to time sensitive topics, unlike its older brother traditional media. Email marketing on the other hand is the best friend to social media. It not only allows for the same kind of execution, but also has a high return on investment, which is obviously crucial to marketing objectives.

These two peas in the marketing pod work well together. Let me elaborate. There are more than 8 million online users in South Africa and 99% of them use email, while 400 000 are actively using Twitter for brand and content engagement. The downside to social media, similarly to that of breaking news, as Elvis Costello will tell you, “Yesterday’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper”. Adversely, an email sits in your inbox till you read it. Showing the importance of making sure both mediums are treated equally and utilised correctly.

So what’s the Social Inbox?

It’s all about integrating the two channels. With social media continuously growing and companies spending exorbitant budgets on increasing their social following, there’s a need to convert fans and followers into subscribers. There’s no point in having 300 000 Facebook fans if you’re not engaging with them on a regular basis through email, one of the highest ROI channels.

For instance, integrating Facebook and email communications is easy. You just have to insert subscription forms or iFrames (inline frame) onto your social media platforms. If people are loyal to your brand and have followed you on Twitter or liked your Facebook page, there’s a good chance they’d agree to subscribing to your mailing lists.
So where to from here?

It’s important to allow your clients, fans, followers and friends to be able to find your content in the medium of their choice, at the time they want. I suggest you use multiple online mediums to ensure that no one is ignored or unaccounted for. Using social media in conjunction with email marketing allows for you to take those loyal fans and communicate with them in a more personal but targeted arena, namely email.