Social media vs email marketing? This post will settle, once and for all, which one is better. Okay, maybe not! Digital marketing has brought business into a new era; dozens of marketing options are now literally at our fingertips and that number is growing all the time. Just a simple tap on a smart phone and your marketing has the potential to reach millions.

Sound too good to be true? Well, partially. There is certainly a catch or two (or more). In this post we’ll examine two popular methods of digital marketing — social media vs email marketing — and the pros and cons associated with each one. And as a bonus, just because we’re extra nice and want your business to succeed, we’ll include a tip on how to integrate the two.

Let’s Get Social!

Getting social may sound like party time, but if you’re using social media for your business your role will be as a responsible host rather than a party goer. A common mistake new businesses often make is treating their company’s social media like their personal accounts. Social media for business is completely different, and it’s why hiring an experienced social media manager with a proven track record for building engagement and increasing followers is a must. Let’s delve into the pros and cons, shall we?


Numerous options. Not all businesses are alike, so it’s a beautiful thing that you can pick and choose which social media platforms best suit your company. A little tip: don’t try to do them all. Choose 2-5 platforms that will truly showcase your products and services and that will allow you to easily engage with your customers.

Affordable. Creating an account on Facebook, Twitter, and any of the rest is free. Yes, yes, we know that hiring someone to manage these accounts can be costly, but if you’re on a budget, you can start small with the free stuff and then allocate costs to social media as your business grows. And hey, if you’re savvy with this sort of thing and have time to spare, you can do your company’s social media yourself.

Long-term leads. Once you accumulate followers, you can keep going back to them again and again.

Analytics. While print advertising is still effective, social media has the built-in advantage of providing immediate analytics so you can see how people are interacting with your content. This allows you to make improvements and potentially reach even more people the next time around.

Expanded audience. Due to the share-ability of social media posts, you can reach people you never intended to connect with, but who may end up being valuable contacts. You also have an international reach with social media, which is a huge plus for companies that have a globally available product or service.

Targeting. Platforms like Facebook allow you to target your posts to an audience that you customize.

Brand loyalty. Social media allows you to really showcase your brand and connect with your audience. If you do it right, people will have a longterm, interactive, and positive relationship with your brand. You have options like posting photos of puppies, even if your product has nothing to do with puppies. But you know what? When people think of you, they’re going to think of puppies, and feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Improved Search Engine Rankings. Anytime someone shares or clicks to a page on your website, your search engine presence increases. The potential for posts going even the tiniest bit viral is a nice bump to your SEO.


Time-consuming. Many people start out thinking they can do their own social media, until they realize they don’t have an extra 20-40 hours a week to spare.

Trolls. No, not the kind that live under a bridge. In social media, trolls are people who post negative comments simply to stir the pot. Nothing you say to them is going to make them back down or retract their point. They are seeking to undermine or to use your platform as a soapbox and that’s it. Sadly, their negativity can occasionally be damaging for brands, especially if they offend customers. The best way to deal with a troll? Ignore them, or block them if they are causing too much trouble. Much easier than dealing with bridge trolls; we recommend bringing in a professional for that.

Copycats. Posting your content and ideas all over social media makes it easily accessible to your competitors. Sadly, some companies are like bullies at a playground and will hire people to metaphorically throw dirt in your face. This means fake profiles representing your company, negative comments on your posts, and bad reviews on Yelp. The big social media companies have ways of dealing with these bullies, but it can be time-consuming getting these conflicts resolved.

Building your pages. Once a social media page has a lot of followers, it’s easy to get high conversions on your posts. Until then, you’ve got to invest time and money increasing your followers. The return on investment will pay off, but it can be a disheartening process while you’re waiting for those followers to trickle in.

Loss of control. Heaven forbid you post something that is damaging to your brand and it gets shared around. This is why it is extremely important to hire someone who knows how to curate posts and how to monitor anything that looks like it might get out of hand.

Constant change. Social media platforms frequently change the rules of the game, and some are worse about it than others. You know that kid who hogs the ball and makes everyone play by their rules? That’s Facebook. Unfortunately, you just have to roll with it or risk being kicked off the team.

Limited space. Each platform will have their own restrictions with image sizing and amount of texts for posts. Twitter especially forces you to be creative since you can only use 140 characters. Talk about a sound bite!

You’ve Got Mail!

Email, to be precise. Using direct email marketing is like being a pen pal with thousands of people without having to write a letter tailored to each one. It’s also one of the most proven ways to sufficiently convert leads into paying customers. Of course, hitting the send button is not like waving a wand and–poof!–your email will work its magic. There are so many hoops to jump through first. You just need to know which ones and how to communicate in a way that will give you the biggest return on your investment (ROI).


Tiered budget options. There are several tiers of email marketing providers. Many companies, like MailChimp, offer free memberships for businesses that have a small (think under 2,000) number of contacts. If you have money to spend, the pricier options, like Infusionsoft, are worth their weight in gold.

Analytics. The information you can gain from email marketing analytics is even more detailed than what’s available from social media platforms. After you send out an email blast, you’ll be able to access the backend to see who clicked on what, how many people opened the email, and what piece of content was the most efficient.

Automation. Your emails can cause a chain reaction, and it’s one that over which you have control. Most providers have sequence features that allow you to time when a series of emails gets sent. Some providers even allow you to tag contacts based on the actions they perform with the emails and will automatically put them into other sequences you create.

Personalization. You can usually tailor your emails to populate each contact’s information, such as their name. Yes, the average person is aware that email marketers do this, but it’s still much more personal to receive an email with your name on it rather than the old “to whom it may concern.”

Longevity. Unless a lead opts out, you can email them again and again. And since you’ll be able to see the behavior for each of your contacts in your analytics, you can build on your longterm relationship by sending content that is tailored to each contact.

Brand loyalty and awareness. If your emails contain content that is curated so that leads have a positive association with your brand, you will quickly build brand loyalty. You can also include links and files in your emails that people can share on social media, which will increase the exposure of your brand.

Variety. It’s the spice of life, right? With email marketing, you have all sorts of exotic and familiar flavors in your spice rack. Newsletters are particularly easy methods of including a variety of content, so that you will have people clicking on your web links, buying your products, and entering your contests.

Segmenting. You don’t have to send every email to every person in your database. You can pick and choose who is appropriate for each email. This is something you should definitely use to ensure that you are courting your contacts appropriately and not crossing over into that dangerous territory of coming off like a spammer.


Spammer syndrome. It often takes numerous attempts at emailing a contact to finally get them to click on an email. Which makes you appear annoying. It’s just how it goes. It’s like a little kid tugging on their parents’ pant legs until they finally get their attention.

Expertise. After all that heckling, you better make sure the content in your email is worth it once you finally have someone’s attention. This requires either building your own expertise or hiring someone who has experience marketing within your field.

Acquiring leads. Unless you have an existing database or strategic partners who will convince their database to opt-in to yours, you will have to spend sometime and money acquiring leads.

Spam. You can’t control the settings in people’s email accounts. Even if your email blast has a low spam ranking, it still might end up in spam (which I like to think of as email hell). The next disadvantage that is only a small step up is email purgatory, which is junk folders or the “promotion” and “social” folders in Gmail. Think about how often you click on these and you’ll quickly feel discouraged when you realize that so many of the emails you send will be hanging out there for all eternity.

Cost. Small businesses and large businesses will see an easy return on their email marketing investments, but mid-sized businesses are going to struggle for a bit. If you’re a mid-sized business, you won’t qualify for the free accounts, but you also won’t have the funds to throw down for the premium accounts (which get you the best results). You will see an ROI if you make one, but you will have to ensure that your strategies are top-notch.

Two Birds With One Stone

We’re going to let you in on a little secret because we believe in leveraging one another rather than competing (another little business tip we have, but that’s another article). There are a number of strategies that will increase your email leads and your social media followers at the same time. A favorite of ours is the giveaway strategy that uses a lead capture app, such as Heyo. These apps are hosted on your social media pages, which means that people have to visit your page in order to enter. Upon entering, you gain their contact information.

Say you have a large social media presence, but a small database. Simply promote the lead capture app to your followers and watch the leads pour in. This works in reverse, too. If you have a large database but are new to social media, send out an email that includes the link to the giveaway and your number of followers will immediately increase.

If you don’t have database or social media followers, you can pay a company that has a large digital presence to promote the app link for you. If you’re really good, you can build strategic partner relationships (such as doing a joint giveaway with another company) and have them promote it for free.

If you have questions about any of this, don’t hesitate to reach out. We can help!

{photo credit: Gentlemint}

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Jasmine Cabanaw

An award winning writer, Jasmine has worked for media groups, magazines, and newspapers, gaining substantial experience in digital marketing. Her educational background in history, international development, and communications provides her with robust research and analytical skills, while her passion for social justice provides her with an integrity that is reflected in her digital marketing practices. Jasmine founded Green Bamboo Publishing as a way to combine her passion for writing with her goal of raising funds for animal charities.
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