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“There’s a buzz in the air: the holidays are here. Undoubtedly, countless businesses are bombarding your inbox offering 20% off, then free shipping, then another generic offer that is indistinguishable from all the rest. How can your business or organization separate itself from the herd at such a busy time of the year? By effectively using all your communications channels – particularly email and social media – to reach customers and supporters.

When you blend email and social media you present a stronger communications message, one that’s more engaging and more visible. Email and social media, when used together, can mean the difference between a business whose message blends into the background, and one whose message is actively sought after by its clients and supporters.

Here are four ways to combine the power of email and social media during the holidays:

1. Use social media to support your email program. The temptation is always there e to increase your sending frequency when you’re trying to take advantage of the biggest spending season of the year. And that’s exactly what many people will do, doubling up on promotional emails and clogging inboxes. Social media allows you to stay top-of-mind with your customers and supporters without giving them something else to read in their inbox. The good news is you can probably increase your social media posting frequency without becoming a nuisance.

This holiday season, in between your regularly scheduled emails; make sure you keep up with your postings on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t just post coupons and special offers: share good content that will make a connection with your fans and followers and engage them. Ask questions about their holiday plans. Share tips for using your products and taking advantage of your services. Resist the temptation to sell, sell, sell and your fans and followers will keep you in mind when they want to buy or donate.

2. Promote your emails on social media. If you want your emails to be seen, give your subscribers a heads up on social media that they should look out for a message from you. Post a message on Facebook and/or on Twitter such as “Our newsletter is being sent out later today. Keep watch for it and let us know what you think!” Or, even better, tease the content that’s included in your newsletter. That will get people to keep an eye out for the email and excited to read it.

3. Get your subscribers to share. Everyone likes a discount, but on social media people like helpful or fun content they can pass along to their friends. When you give that to your subscribers and arm them with the tools they need to share your content, then your messages will go farther than your subscribers’ inboxes. In fact, they may even be seen by someone who is looking to buy the product or service you sell, or to support your cause.

What kind of content will get passed along? Tips for using your products or surviving the holiday season. Fun videos that show off your silly side. Anything that doesn’t sound like a promotion and that provides a benefit to your readers.

4. Don’t forget to listen…and engage. Social media is a great way to spread your message further but, in addition to generating share-worthy content, you have to remember to step back and listen. Read what your customers and members are posting on your Facebook Page. Monitor Twitter for mentions to see what people are saying about you. By listening, you may also find new trends or nuggets of content to share with your newsletter subscribers and social media followers. Then you can continue the engagement cycle by using their comments or feedback to serve as fodder for email content in 2012

The end of the year is a busy time, both in and out of the email inbox. Use the communications tools at your disposal to keep your customers and supporters’ attention and you’ll reap the rewards now and all year long.”

Guy Steeves – Small Business BC
December 7, 2011

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