Is Your Social Media Killing Your List?

I was reading the book, UnMarketing by Scott Stratten.

In the chapter about Viral Marketing, Scott makes an interesting observation about social media:

Social media is really good for building relationships and can result in sales if you do it right.

Social media is not the best way to build your list.

Please let me explain before you tell me that your 5000 Twitter followers are a list. Basically on Twitter, at any one given time, all of your followers are not sitting at their computers staring at the screen waiting for your message. Only a small segment of followers are on Twitter at a time. You cannot control the distribution of the message to them. You can only tweet and put it out there.

I do not use Twitter to build my list, I use it to engage and build relationships. That’s cool. That’s what great about social media. (p. 2o8)

Last month, Darren Rowse made a similar observation over at ProBlogger:

I guess it comes down partly to the stage you’re at as an online entrepreneur and how established your network is.

If you’re well known, have a network already in some way and have the ability to pull numbers of email subscribers then it’s probably something to consider.

But if you’re starting out online – you’ll probably need some kind of site or other presence online to help get the ball rolling.

So if the social media channels – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter et. al are only useful in building relationships, what builds a list?

For starters, here are a bunch of ideas that can help:

1. A really great good away: Perhaps a manifesto, blueprint (while is surely the most abused term of 2010) or a complementary membership site subscription. (Hint: Remember to be authentic – faking it won’t work).

Upside – high quality, motivated subscribers.

Downside – Double opt in takes time, and is slow, organic in nature.

2. A freebie gift bribe: Think iPad.

Upside: Potential to go viral.

Downside: Low quality subscribers who will not be interested in what you offer once the freebie winners are declared.

3. Doing your homework: Delivering quality content. Solving real problems. Creating value.

Upside: The only time-tested formula to list building success. Can help relationship building too – with all the retweetable content that you are creating.

Downside: Takes time – and is heck of a hard work for sure. In the words of Mike Cliffe-Jones, it really is bloody hard work.

Are you using the social media channels to build your list – or are you using your base camps to build your lists? What’s working for you – and what has backfired?

I would love to hear!

(Image Credit: Cayusa http://www.flickr.com/photos/cayusa/)

3 Responses to Is Your Social Media Killing Your List?
  1. Mike CJ
    Twitter: mikecj
    September 14, 2010 | 7:07 am

    When I first started as a blogger I didn’t want a giveaway to bribe people into my list, and I didn’t want to use pop ups, both of which I thought were tacky.

    I soon realised they are an essential component to build an email list reasonably quickly, and that the email list is the most important and profitable part of my business.
    Mike CJ recently posted… A Simple And Free Solution To Creating A Store On Your Website – Wazala

    • Kapil Apshankar
      September 14, 2010 | 11:27 pm

      The case study that you offer as a give away on your blog is all meat, no fluff Mike. That’s the ethical bribe that really makes a difference.

      Unlike irrelevant giveaways (like an iPad), the giveaway really needs to provide value – and be sticky. The case study does both – and I’m guessing that’s the reason why it has been so successful and a key element in building your list.

      I do agree – a good email list is (and should be) definitely the most important component of any profitable online business.

  2. Kapil Apshankar
    September 14, 2010 | 11:27 pm

    The case study that you offer as a give away on your blog is all meat, no fluff Mike. That’s the ethical bribe that really makes a difference.

    Unlike irrelevant giveaways (like an iPad), the giveaway really needs to provide value – and be sticky. The case study does both – and I’m guessing that’s the reason why it has been so successful and a key element in building your list.

    I do agree – a good email list is (and should be) definitely the most important component of any profitable online business.