Why Social, Why Now & What You Must Do About It (Part II)

Len Shneyder

In the first part of this article, we talked a bit abstractly about the social channel and its rapid growth and expansion. Now let’s talk about how to leverage and optimize our existing digital strategy – in order to do this effectively we have to stop thinking of e-mail as isolated or something we do on the side. Rather, think of it as I said before: content for the express purpose of consumption and with a bit of luck and ingenuity, conversion.

What’s the ratio between the number of e-mails I send and the number of messages to customers via Facebook?

This question is a primer for those of you who have begun to investigate how many @faceboook.com addresses are in your house-file to gauge the impact of a direct e-mail engagement and the cadence between them. Remember, e-mail and social are connected because actions on social networks generate user e-mails. If you’re posting on your social network page and sending e-mails, you may be double tapping your customers. Consider the “less is more” approach or modulate your frequency.

If you send an e-mail with a big announcement at 2 p.m. local time, do you know how long before it hits Twitter or if it ever does?

A good offer in an e-mail should find its way into the social channel because human beings like to be recognized and are generous in nature. But do you know how generous? Are you tracking social habits? Social channels move fast, your “3-day-only” offer may be too longwinded to have a real impact on Twitter. What about a 4-hour offer with a slightly deeper discount?

Do you know which e-mail makes your brand look better in Notes, Outlook or Gmail? How about on Facebook or Twitter?

It’s no secret that your e-mail should be optimized across platforms – each one has unique nuances and challenges. There’s a new factor to take into consideration: social. Take advantage of OpenGraph tools and coding technology to optimize your e-mails for cross channel success by preselecting image and text for sharing.

Do you know how "socially influential" your e-mail is?

We have to change the “I think” paradigm into an “I know” one by measuring our penetration and success in the social realm and understanding our e-mail channel through the social lens. There are tools out there like IBM Social E-mail Analytics that specifically address the empirical quantum leap from the known to the uncertain and help tie together the metrics of social and e-mail.

What's more important to you, a click on a link in an e-mail or a like on your FB page?

The answer is both. If we go down a level further we know that a read generally doesn’t lead to a conversion, but we’ve learned that those who “like” something are four times more likely to purchase it. How’s that for bang for your buck? What’s really important to understand is that your e-mail has the opportunity to drive business on a social network making it as much or more useful than a “forward to a friend.”

When is the best time to send an e-mail assuming it gets shared to a social network?

We have to think about what drives social media and how consumers engage with it: through mobile. Based on our research, mobile usage starts like an alarm clock first thing in the morning, with sustained high usage through lunch, tapering off with small spikes in the evening. There are opportunities to deliver e-mail when customers are using smart phones and most likely to share socially; you must start thinking about the media consumption patterns of your customers.

What's more valuable to your bottom line, tweets, likes or e-mails in the inbox?

We can slice and dice our house files and see at a glance if we have more users reading e-mails on Yahoo! vs. Gmail or Notes vs. Outlook. We should be doing the same with our social network fans and helping nurture that content by including SWYNs (Share With Your Social Network) links in our e-mails, endorsing our popular channels and providing special promotions.

Where does e-mail end and social begin?

The lines are blurred: in order to open a social media account you have to have an e-mail. You have the option, in many web e-mail clients, to incorporate twitter and Facebook feeds now. This means that they are becoming more intertwined than ever, so it’s critical to not only have a strategy that addresses social media, but measure your presence, successes and failures.

What's more valuable, your Facebook fans, your tweeters or your buzzers?

Since Gmail’s 2004 viral launch it’s been a hit and has taken a pole position among top tier e-mail clients. Unfortunately the launch of Google’s social network Buzz hasn’t been so successful and it trails Facebook & Twitter. The beauty here is that they don’t really have to compete; they’re starting to really work their way into one another. Twitter feeds can be incorporated into Facebook walls automatically thanks to apps.

So how much visibility do you have in how the links in your domain cross e-mail and social borders?

E-mail is content and content drives social activity and endorsements. Keep track of your content, figure out what is truly compelling and what’s just lip service. The trick to social is establishing dialogues – if you sound like a marketer, you will be ignored if you develop an individual persona with a character that appeals to your customers – you have the ability to interact with them in a more personal and intimate manner.

Personas and characters are driving the net and are defined by the quality of the media that comprises them. Don’t drive social media, be a part of it, engage with it and ultimately your customers are sure to engage with you.


Len Shneyder is a San Francisco-based product marketing manager with Unica, which is part of IBM’s $22.5 billion Software Group. With nearly a decade of e-mail marketing experience, Shneyder addresses the concerns and needs of the top global e-mail service providers and manages relationships with clients and partners. He handles marketing for IBM Unica's OnDemand product line including Marketing Operations OnDemand, eMessage and E-mail Optimization. He is a regular contributor to the Deliverability.com blog.