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Email Is Social Media’s Best Friend

Dec 28, 2015 11:00:00 AM

Email Is Social Media's Best Friend

I spent two hours creating and recreating a graphic for our Facebook page. I quickly Googled “Best times for a Facebook post” as a refresher and then scheduled what I saw as “The Perfect Post.”

Only it wasn’t. It fell on its face. Not only did it not get any shares, it got 5 likes and a reach of about 5%. I felt like I wasted my time. Worse yet, I got the sinking feeling, “What’s the point?” I don’t think I’m alone in thinking, “There must be a better way to reach your constituents, while at the same time getting your messages in front of new people.”

Jay Baer coined a term “reliable reach,” which he defines as “the ability to send a message to a person who has asked to hear from you, and for that message to reach that person.”

Social media reach is unreliable. Facebook organic reach is tanking for pages. Nowadays, you’ll have to pay to play (which isn’t the end of the world), but it can be an unfortunate new reality for churches and schools.

Enter email. According to Mailchimp’s “Email Marketing Benchmarks” report (updated most recently on Dec. 1, 2015), religious institutions sending out email campaigns see an open rate of 26.32% and a click through rate of 3.31%. Basically, this means that for every 100 email subscribers you have, 26 will open the email. Meanwhile, the average post for Facebook pages reaches about 7 of every 100 fans (as reported by Locowise).

3 ways to use email to help your social media efforts

  • Email Your Staff to Share
      • Remember, your colleagues are on your team and everyone is in communications. Coworkers WANT to know how they can help. They’re on Facebook—invite them to share the post with their circle of friends and family.
  • Email your community—sparingly
      • When a post is SO incredibly vital that it needs to get out, start by boosting it with an ad. Another tactic is sending an email to your entire list. Keep the ask short and sweet (“please share this post”) and make the call-to-action button large. This tactic is to be used sparingly, as you are stepping into someone’s inbox—this is a sacred space. It’s not very difficult to unsubscribe from pesky emailers.
      • On one post in particular, we saw a lift of 90+ shares on a Facebook post. It works. However, always err on the side of respect for the inbox of others.
  • Include in your weekly enews, “Featured Social Share” section
      • This is a simple step. Most churches send out a weekly enews. Add one more block, “Featured Social Share.” Include a link to the most important post of the week and ask your weekly readers to share.

How it worked for us

There was a vital post that needed to go out to our constituents. We quickly put together an email and sent it to our entire list. Within two hours of sending that email, we saw over 100 shares on Facebook. Without email, that post may have fallen flat and been buried in the newsfeed. Email gave us the opportunity to equip our community to spread the word. That particular email saw an open-rate of 42% and a click-through rate of 32%.

I’m grateful for our staff at the Michigan District, LCMS. Every blog post we write is special, but there are certain ones we encourage our staff to share on their personal profiles. I’m always impressed by their willingness to help. When the time comes, I’ll send out a simple a message like this (feel free to customize):

“If you are able, I’d like to request that you share this [insert name of blog post] article on Facebook. [Name of author] wrote a wonderful article and, by sharing it, it will reach more folks in our community.

Visit: [direct link to Facebook post] to share.

Thank you!”

That’s it. Our incredibly supportive staff takes it from there. Again, if you can’t tell, I’m extremely thankful.

What now?

Keep building your email list. Make sure you have email addresses for every single member. Edit your weekly enewsletter to include a featured social share. Send important social posts to your colleagues. Send critical updates to your entire list.

The truth is that it’s incredibly hard for Facebook Pages and Twitter profiles to get messages to their fans. Facebook is working to improve user experience, and, to them, it means that page posts decrease in the newsfeed. However, you can work to offset this by equipping real people to share your content. You will expand your reach and help get your posts in front of more fans as well as new audiences. 

All you have to do is ask.


 

How about you?

How are you using email to reach your members? Have you been able to utilize email to move them to action? What are your best practices? Any tips to share? Tell us in the comments below!

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Seth Hinz

Written by Seth Hinz

Seth Hinz serves as Assistant to the President—Web/Media for the Michigan District of the LCMS. A graduate of Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Seth is passionate about connecting church-communication folks and equipping ministries to communicate effectively in the ever-changing digital age. Seth is married, has two sons, one daughter, and enjoys popcorn, Wes Anderson movies, and way too many things on Netflix.

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