Some social media mavericks are claiming that email is dead and, not surprisingly, the other mob (traditionalists) still defend email, citing its superiority when it comes to informing your customers.

So just how does social media and email measure up? When deciding on strategy and budget, which of the two will give you the biggest bang for your buck? A quick Google search for the exact phrase “email vs social media” resulted in 63,459 results – obviously a hot topic and one I think I have an answer for!

Today I don’t believe a company can afford to do one at the expense of the other. You should be developing a cohesive strategy using both while asking yourself “who is the target?” and “what is your intent?”.

Who is your target?

  1. If your target is under 25 years old, you’ll probably need to reach them through social media almost exclusively.
  2. If your is target is above 26 years old, you’re still likely to be successful using social media but factor in email marketing.
  3. If your target is a business, email will likely get you faster results.
  4. When targeting consumers, a social campaign will get you better results where your potential customer sees others singing your praises.
  5. Now what about targeting a person while they’re at work? Email tends to work better; but when you know you’ll reach a person at home, social media will give a better result.

Analyzing your target’s demographics and psycho-graphics will help you decide on your social media or email focus. However, most times I’d suggest a combination of both.

What is your intent?

Selling directly – then social media isn’t the place for you.  Email will work much better – but make sure you have established a relationship first (or have a REALLY GOOD offer).

Building a long-term relationship – start with social media and in time move the relationship to email.

Providing value – (news, tips etc) then social media is the place for you.

Communicating in a personal way? – use social media, but if you need to connect in bulk then email will be easier.

Consider your measuring capabilities before any activity. If you’re set up properly, email will give you fantastic tracking results. Social media is a little harder to track (but this is an area that is also changing daily).

In the end, if you’re purely about business, email is better. Business people consider their email more important than their social profile. But how do you make contact in the first place?

Simple – use social media to get into their inbox. Yes, you will need to connect personally via social media and then use strategies to pull them towards your website so you can drive value to an opt-in form.

This is the main reason I recommend both!

Think of it this way: leverage online to create offline change.

This is what I’m telling clients to do now. But if you were to ask me in five years time I may advise differently. Uni grads are forced to adopt the email world in business, yet you can be sure there will be a day when their generation will change business to the degree that social media becomes their default and email becomes tomorrow’s fax machine.